Yes, it is a process...and my friends say to me often, "Bill, you are so darn out, you are in!" Well, not exactly...but I have gotten some interesting responses when telling folks the little part of me some would like to keep hidden. Some are boring, some I did not expect, and some I did not want to hear.
But, hey, when and if (I hope) you finally make a step out of the evil closet, you may end up hearing some of these. Or, even if you are involved in a discussion about lesbigay people, you may end up hearing something along these lines...positive I hope. To protect their anonymity, they shall remain nameless (and besides, I really forget the names of these people)
"Like, so? Do you think you are the first one I knew that was gay? In THIS industry? Come on, Bill." Former co-worker in a restaurant.
"Hmmm...you know, I once had a friend like that, well, he was sort of a umm, uh, switch hitter (all the while I am imagining a guy standing at a light switch turning it on and off), well, he went both ways. He was a great friend, very artistically talented, too. I miss him a lot, though we lost touch many years ago."
At a relative's wedding, to which my partner was not invited due to fear of controversy:
"Why aren't you over there with the single guys catching the garter, Bill?"
"Well, because I am not single." (mysterious glance at my ring finger hands whilst in the middle of dancing to a song)
"Well, where's your wife?"
(I shake my head with my lil 'look')
"Well, where's your husband?"
(Uh-oh...this lady is a mother of five and a Catholic, and a friend of the family...now I am gonna get it!")
"Well, he is home, they did not invite him, due to fear of controversy, you know how I mean right?"
"Oh, that's RIDICULOUS...Well, did you two have a ceremony or something? I know that it is not legally recognized in NJ"
"No, we have not done that ... How did you know?"
"Well, I sorta suspected at Francine's funeral, and all."
"Oh, okay ... does it bother you?"
"Well, number one, it is your life, and number two, I live in the Nineties! Now tell me about your him Bill, where did you meet?"
"Well, Bill it is, uh, none of my business, and I don't agree with you on it, so let's just leave it at that. You could change if you went out with a woman I think" (all the while I thought about telling the fool that I already DID have girlfriends...but hey, why bother trying to talk to him, as if he is some sort of EXPERT on sexuality. -- a macho-heterosexist former co-worker.
"Oh that does not bother me, I have friends that are like that...just protect yourself!" Another former co-worker.
"At last, hahahahaha congratulations on your coming out of the closet." "Oh, Bill, it is nothing we did not already know, you came in here with your whole group and left all those PGN's (Philadelphia Gay News) around here." "Do your parents know? How do they feel?" -- Co-workers at a meeting in a local restaurant off work hours. After I accidentally (er, on purpose) said he instead of she. After that, they passed around a piece of paper saying "Congratulations, BillBob on coming out of the closet" which they all signed.
"Well, who am I to judge in the first place? You know, my sister is a lesbian and she took me to the Cesar district in San Francisco, it was all new to me, I never saw anything so beautiful I like that city, you know, when a family member tells you something like that you give 'em a hug, not condemnation! I have always thought it was inborn like my heterosexuality is" -- A co-worker at another job. (yes, she actually said Ceasar district!)
"Well, Bill. I still love you and all...I am not big on different lifestyles, because I really don't understand them, but well, I guess I accept you for who you are, but not for what you do. Just be careful, it can be dangerous out there." -- A friend of mine's mother, who at one time wanted me to marry her daughter because she felt that I was the nicest friend she ever had.
"Umm, hehehe...I heard...I did not have anything to do with it, did I?" -- An ex-girlfriend from my early high school years.
"Well, as long as it does not interfere with anything I have to do" -- A fellow student
"But, at that Washington for Jesus rally I went to there was a guy who was a homosexual and now he is married and has a family and all, you should try those groups." -- A fellow student who is a born-again Christian ( All the while I am thinking "Oh, sure, I really want to hear about how evil I am, while getting brainwashed into conforming to fundamentalist Christianity and suppressing my feelings. AND to top it all off, hearing about how I supposedly did not bond well with Dad and played with too many dolls so now I am gay. The only dolls I ever played with were Transformers and a few stuffed animals I had.")
"Your father says that you have a sort of attraction to males, Bill, is this true?"
"Yeah, that's true, I am gay." (Oh boy, now I am going to get it, I thought")
"Well, it is none of my business, and there is nothing wrong with that. You are a smart boy and I like you and your brother, both. Now, for God's sake STOP SMOKING the cigarettes! Please I beg of you." -- A retired friend of the family who worked as a nurse after coming to America from Europe in the early 50's. Mind you, this woman is very old-fashioned and religious, but hey, you never know.
"I knew it! I knew it! (claps her hands and smiles like she just won a prize on Jeopardy) You should meet my brother he is quite the handsome type of guy...he lives in....." -- Another co-worker.
"Well, my cousin married a guy and he is homosexual, the guy is very nice, and as long as he does not push it on me, I guess I can handle it." -- Another co-worker who insisted that same-sex marriages were legally recognized in New Jersey.
"Well, Bill it is your life. To each his own. I will be praying for you as I always do. You know my pastor at my church has a brother who is a gay." -- A very religious relative of mine who attends the Religious denomination that I was confirmed in.
"Oh for God's sake, that is someone's preference and a very personal thing, besides, it is in the Bible...read Galations!" -- A female hairdresser with whom I discussed the Religious Right, and we agreed on things!
"You, Bill? Nooooooo. Wow. Well, that is no problem with me. After all, I have known you since preschool!" -- A fellow student who I have known most of my life.
"Well, I kind of knew you were...I guess it is OK as long as you do not talk about it too much." -- A newlywed co-worker.
"Really, well, thank you for sharing that with me in your paper, I have to say that it was well written. That is why I gave you an A" -- An instructor of mine.
"You can believe anything you want or whatever, the only thing that your grade will be based on will be your test scores, and classwork here." -- A professor of mine, after I discussed with her the time she saw me hanging up posters for the College gay and lesbian group.
"Well, thank you for sharing that with me, you know, I give you a lot of credit for that and all. I know how dangerous and hard it can be."
"Oh wow, I guess that means you could give me some advice on what to do about my girlfriend/boyfriend now. You gay guys seem to be experts on that!"
"Oh, well, then do you have a special friend then in that case?" -- A coworker's response after having been told to "guess again" after she said "do you have a wife?"
"Really? When did you know you were? I never suspected that!" Please just be careful...I told you about my AIDS patients I had, right?" -- My best female friend and another former nurse.
"Well, I do not think it is right, but violence is wrong. Where I come from, we are not accustomed to it, like you are here. But, it is YOUR life. And I hope you are happy." -- An acquaintance of mine from the West Indies.
" Hmmm...Well, Bill, I will tell you this. I heard. And the only thing I can say is that I really don't understand it, your orientation that is, but I love you man, You are a great guy to work with." -- Another co-worker.
"Oh so is that the reason you did not want me to call you Billy? You know, I saw the Birdcage and I never laughed so hard in my life." -- A friend of the family's question after my coming out to him, and telling him about my own internalized homophobia. (yes, I let him call me Billy now.)
"Oh, so THAT's why you crawled under the shelf when were coming in the back of the unit to sexually harass you." -- More nutty female coworkers.....
"But Why?" -- Another acquaintance.
"So what, I don't give a shit...You are not hitting on me anyway!" -- A female boss of mine.
"Well, You have fun because there is nothing wrong with it, and I knew what pain you were going through. I will set you up with my friend..... he is gay and quite a good looking guy. Let me know. If you have any problems, let me know. Don't compromise your life and stuff for other people's bullshit." -- A male boss of mine.
"Oh cool...we should all go out sometime to THAT club...what is it called again? you know the one with the blinking lights and...."
"Cool...more women for me!" -- A male acquaintance/coworker.
"I see...I thought that was what those rings you are wearing were about" -- A clerk at a convenience store.
ETC............. I can only be thankful that the responses, though this is not all inclusive, were as good as they were.