Coming out

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by B_HappyHammer1977, Jun 13, 2007.

  1. B_HappyHammer1977

    B_HappyHammer1977 New Member

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    What's the big deal with gay guys and girls 'coming out' to all and sundry? Just been watching a documentary about the subject and wondered how the good folk of 'Elpieland' thought about it.

    My view is this; at the age of 16 I didn't feel the need to approach my parents and say "Mum, dad...I'm straight."

    I mean, I know it's different, obviously, but this is the 21st century! 50, 40 even just 20 years ago it would have been a big deal...

    Anyway, your views...
     
  2. biguy2738

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    We still have societies, communities and even families that are very closed minded and prejudicial...that's what makes it a big deal. There's still the sentiment that men and women are supposed to marry and have children... and if you don't then there's "something wrong with you"...and it goes beyond even sexual preference. If a woman or guy chooses not to marry, then they are asked "when are you going to get married" or else there's the immediate conclusion that she's lesbian or he's gay. I know from my own experience (before my wife fell pregnant) that so often we'd be asked why we don't have any children...as if by not having any, we are doing something wrong.

    We live in a world ruled by stigmas, labels and generalisations. Everyone and everything needs to be classified and put in a specific box. People aren't seen as the individuals that they are, they filtered through a list of rules and expectations. It's these attitudes and approaches that makes coming out such a big deal...most especially for the person that is coming out, because not only does that person have to deal with the reaction, perception and prejudices of those around them, but they first have to deal with their own...bear in mind that we have the ideals of our societies and families brainwashed into us...that person has to first accept that yes, he or she is different from what is dictated to be the "norm" and yet it doesn't make them any less of a person.

    You didn't need to tell your parents that you were straight and you didn't have to deal with inner conflict because you have fallen within that "norm". To some extent you have taken your experience of falling into that "norm" and used it to filter the lives and plight of others with...which really isn't fair. It would be like me as a white post Apartheid South African saying, "what's the big deal about being black? We're all equal" What seems to be forgotten is the years of struggle and fighting in order to be seen as equal. To receive equal rights, values and respect.

    You are viewing all of this through your own world and expecting others to conform to your ideals, it sadly doesn't always work like that. If you'd really like to understand why "coming out" is such a big deal, I suggest that you picture yourself as being gay and paint a fairly bleak picture - homophobic family, homophobic friends, very conservative closed minded environment...put yourself in the shoes of another, but leave your pre conceived ideas or beliefs (which is wonderful, it's great that you see nothing wrong with homosexuality) out of the situation (the whole world isn't made out of HappyHammers - pity :eek:) ) and I think that you will then find that your question has been answered.

    A very good thread by the way. Thank you for starting it.
     
  3. B_HappyHammer1977

    B_HappyHammer1977 New Member

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    I suppose my implied quetion was; is it still the problem that I know it was?

    (Hey, the whole world can be a HappyHammer if they want!! :cool: )
     
  4. biguy2738

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    Can I be a HappyHammer? Can I? Can I? :eek:)
    So I wrote a lengthy discourse for nothing.....Thank you very much! :Flush:
     
  5. Lex

    Lex
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    Try googling "Coming Out" and read some of the stories you find. Your ignorance of the issue and challege that this process entails is rather embarassing.
     
  6. Chuck64

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    Just last week, a friend of mine IM'd me. He just said he's living on a friends couch because his Dad found out he's gay. I haven't been able to reach him since then, so I have no idea where he's at or if he's ok.

    So, to answer your question, yes - it's still a big deal for some (probably most) gay men.

    By the way, he's 21. I've only known two people who came out before the age of 20. That alone should tell you how big of a struggle it is to come out, both internally and externally.
     
  7. Onslow

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    First off--What is 'Elpieland'? Is that your code word for homosexuality? If so then you have answered your own question. Then again, even though a google search located nothing for that word, perhaps it's just a word you heard on the local news--either way, do tell what it means and where it came from.

    The big deal? Sociietal changes have indeed moved things forward; however, there is one hell of a long way to go.

    Have you looked at the media (television and movies) portrayal of homosexuals? We as a group are portrayed as frilly, limp wristed men who engage in wild sex parties. Who would want to say they're a homosexual with that stigma attached? In the rare instances where a homosexual is portrayed as a mechanic or a plumber or electrician--or some other blue collar laborer--eyes bulge in shock that anyone in those trades could be a homosexual. Correction--any man in that position since clearly homosexual women would be plumbers and mechanics--at least according to the media, which in turn becomes the stock and standard viewpoint of society as a whole. If a movie or television program shows a woman on a motorcycle everyone assumes she must be a lesbian. If a man is working in the fashion industry he must be homosexual. This is what society has conditioned us to believe. This is why, it is still hard to say to people that one is a homosexual. Ignorance of the world.

    A homosexual has family reckoning to deal with. Families tend to raise their children even now, with some level of belief that the child will grow into adulthood and become a parent. Sex education is geared towards heterosexual, not homosexual. If a sex education program or book or anything else mentions same gender unions. it is done only in a passing manner. The majority of the topic will discuss male/female unions and how their bodies interact.

    It's not just adults who create difficulties for a young person to declare their sexuality. Go to a shopping mall or any place where young people hang out. Young men (teens to early 20's) stand around and laugh and make jokes using derogarory statements about homosexuals--both known and ones they imagine may well be. Even older men run with the idea that they could 'turn a woman straight'. A year ago I met a woman who declared --loudly--that she could turn even the gayest man ungay. And you wonder why people have trouble saying they are homosexual and why it is such a major deal and an event to be announced and dealt with. Dealt with within the scope of coming to terms with it.

    If you want more of a take on this, then check in the ETC. section here at LPSG and look at the threads which Lex has begun and continued on the coming out subject. A great many of your questions can be answered there. (actually click on his profile and check his started threads--several of them will be of use to you HH1977)
     
  8. DC_DEEP

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    Excellent points, Onslow.
    Yes, it is still a problem. I don't live in the UK, so I can't really address some of the societal issues there, but over on this side of the pond, homosexuality or suspected homosexuality is legal grounds for denying housing, dismissal from one's job, witholding of various legal protections, and is commonly reason for a family disowning/shunning a family member. Some attitudes have relaxed somewhat, but not as much as many people like to think. And many people mistakenly think that laws exist to protect homosexuals from discrimination. Only a handful of states provide legal protections for homosexuals, and the federal government provides none.
     
  9. SpoiledPrincess

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    If I'm not having sex with someone their sexuality doesn't affect me therefore I don't really need to know about it. To most people their sexuality is private and it's not something that needs to be demonstrated all the time, within a social circle it's handy to know but at work or when out shopping etc it doesn't really come in to play. I have a few friends who are lesbians, the majority of them are fairly private, however I do have one who feels the need to tell everyone she meets that she's a lesbian, and constantly reinforce that she's a lesbian, everything that happens to her she puts down to being caused by this fact. A sexual identity doesn't need to be paraded 24/7, although it is normally assumed that someone is straight so its not quite the same I don't feel the need to tell everyone I meet that I'm primarily straight so I don't see why someone who's gay feels the need to do this. Someone's sexuality is the business of themselves and whoever they're fucking/hoping to fuck.
     
  10. B_HappyHammer1977

    B_HappyHammer1977 New Member

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    Sorry! I totally agree with you though.
     
  11. B_HappyHammer1977

    B_HappyHammer1977 New Member

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    Wow. I didn't expect any anger when asking that question. I really do think I must live in a different world. When I was growing up I had a number of friends who were openly gay and it wasn't even a discussion point. Anyone could happily discuss who fancies who without worrying about what others thought.

    I suppose I'm lying when I say I didn't expect anger, but it's not ignorance on my part, but ignorance on those who do look down on those who are "different".

    The more time I spend on LPSG, talking amongst Americans, I realsise just how differnet our countries are! i'm not saying there aren't idiots out there who are still biggoted, of course there are, but I know no one *from my generation* who has had any bullying or problems of that sort.

    My advice; come over here to England, you're more than welcome!

    (Oh, Onslow, don't worry, "Elpies" are those of us who frequent LPSG...or "Elpieland"! .... I should get out more!)
     
  12. DC_DEEP

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    I'll be happy to, as long as I can find work teaching music - and if I can teach whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, and sixty-fourth notes, instead of semi-breves, minims, crotchets, quavers, semiquavers, demisemiquavers, and hemidemisemiquavers.

    Just kidding. I hope my post was not one you perceived as "angry." Just keep in mind that mine is a country where, even though it seldom works, our solicitors encourage their clients to claim "gay panic defense" if their client is being tried for gay-bashing. It tends (at least they think) to sway public opinion to be more sympathetic toward their client... as in, "Yes, I did beat the bloody hell out of him, but I'm straight, and when he put a move on me, I beat him unconscious before I knew what happened."
     
  13. fortiesfun

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    HappyHammer:

    This is obviously a very emotional issue, but here is my quick take. Even though it is not empirically so, most people assume that "srt8" is the default. Straight people don't come out because they are never "in" the closet. You are most unusual in that you don't "normalize" heterosexuality. That is not because of where you live, as there is plenty of homophobia in Great Britain. It seems to be personal to you. I am glad you are free of prejudice, but that should not blind you to its existence.

    But the other important reason people feel a need to come out is because it is essential to one's identity. This deep psychological process of knowing and accepting yourself is often only made manifest by saying out loud that you are who you are. When I came out to my parents, I remember their reaction being that (of course) they already knew but would rather not talk about it. That's great for them, but it renders me invisible. It is not that I doubted they knew, but I had to acknowledge to them what I was, even if they would not acknowledge it in return.

    There is no issue when you are what you are assumed to be, but it is a great big deal when you are at odds with your appearance or your "assigned" role in life.
     
  14. Lex

    Lex
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    Doc-- you really summed it up better than I could have. My initial reaction was pissy as I am growing very weary of people's lack of overal empathy and inability to educate themselves via search engines and what not.

    Thanks for saying what I would have liked to (and for saying it so calmly and eliquently).
     
  15. biguy2738

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    You didn't have to apologise, I was only teasing....and I certainly don't think that writing what I did was in vain.

    There is always the possibility of someone needing to read about a specific topic at that moment in time...it may be a new member that doesn't know how often this discussion has been raised, it may be someone that wouldn't otherwise do a search. So despite the mixed reactions, I think you did a good job by starting this thread...it may just have been what someone has quietly needed to hear. :smile: If not, then at the very least, you gave us an area of meeting where we were able to share our ideas, feelings and experiences and grow from them! Good job!
     
  16. Freddie53

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    what is the big deal? Read the fundies "All Fags are going to hell." A fortunately unseccessful attempt to ban gays from adopting even their own nephews and neices in Arkansas.

    In America, it is everywhere. Gays are bad. Gays are going to hell. Gays are the cause of all the problems of the world. I could go on and on. And then all the people whose famlies have disowned them and won't even speak to them because they found out that 'they are gay."

    And you ask if it is a big deal? Get your head out of the sand and face reality.

    And yes you announced you were straight when as a teenager all you could do was watch the girls and look at striaght porn and show all the signs of being really smitten by the girls. Actions speak louder than words.

    And then the parents who moan, "My son shows no interest in girls and he is already 18. I'm worried about him."

    Yeah it is an issue all right. Shall we list the gays who committed suicide because they were rejected by their families? How about listing the gays that were taken out and beaten and tortured until death? Shall we read all the comments that all of this was God's will and the commenters are glad that "justice was done and God was pleased."

    My blood pressure is starting to rise. I really need to stop giving examples.

    I'm glad I am in a church that rejects all this crap. All people are of sacred worth. That is the teaching of my church. I have a different God that the homophobic people have. Still it pisses me off when I read how pleased God is over the torture of a guy just because he is gay.

    So yeah I would say coming out is a big deal. You may be tortured and killed. You may be rejected permanently by your family and friends. A whole new life with a set of different friends may await you. It is a big step. That is the understatement of the year.
     
  17. Matthew

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    This post reminds me how rare, and apparently difficult, it is for straight people to understand what it means to be queer.
     
  18. DC_DEEP

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    Absolutely true, Matthew.

    No, I don't make every introduction like an AA meeting: "Hi, I'm DC, and I'm gay." I don't make a big issue of it. But when you work with people, every work day, for week after month after year, your sexuality DOES come into conversations or situations or whatever. The straight folks generally have no difficulties there. The gay folks have to make some decisions - and many of those decisions will depend entirely upon the culture of their workplace. When I worked for the VERY conservative Acxiom Corporation, I felt it necessary to hide my orientation. When I worked for Southwest Airlines, I did not feel that it was necessary to hide. When I was teaching in public schools, it was absolutely essential that no student, fellow teacher, administrator, parent, or community member found out.

    What is a gay person (at a very conservative company) supposed to say when a coworker asks, "who are you bringing to the company picnic?" What is a gay person supposed to say to a coworker who asks, "any special plans for Valentine's Day?" or "...I'm guessing you have a girlfriend and not a wife, since you don't wear a wedding ring..."
     
  19. aristarchus

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    Thanks to everybody for sharing their perspectives on the important role of "coming out" and the difficulty of doing so at least in some places. May I just add something from today's local newspaper for the benefit of those happy ones who don't realize the problems we have in many parts of America?

    The most progressive school district in Maryland (which is by itself in the top quarter of progressive states) just went through turmoil trying to allow teachers to mention homosexuality in sex-ed courses. They succeeded (yea!) but previously teachers could address the topic only if a student actually asked a question about it, and even then the teachers' "allowed" responses were heavily circumscribed. As I write there are protesters angry at the thought that some children might be taught the horrible notion that homosexuality might possibly not be a conscious choice, that it might be "acceptable" in society, and that it, and I quote, "is something normal. It is not."

    I'll add quickly that because I've lived my adult life by choice in a very rarified atmosphere I have not encountered any personal discrimination (or even raised eyebrows) in the past decade--quite the opposite--so it can surprise me as well to find such amazingly backward views being quoted in the local paper. Yet it is essential for me and others in my fortunate position to remember that these backwards views are still prevalent, and especially to recognize that a lot of my "kinfolk" have to face them every day. They need the constant support and visible examples of those who have "come out."
     
  20. SpoiledPrincess

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    Actually Matthew I'm not straight, my longest relationship has been with a woman :) I said primarily straight because more of my relationships have been with men, but my best friend and I have been having sex for longer than we'd both care to remember.
     
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