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Joshua

June 1997

Hello again!!!! This past month has been really strange, and actually, downright scary. . .

My Outing

In my first column I mentioned that I had a suspicion that Mike's (my boyfriend) parents had some idea that Mike and I are gay, but it was just that, a suspicion. Since I spend a lot of time over at his house, sometimes his parents will ask me to run small errands for them or take their kids someplace when they're short of time or have scheduling conflicts, and I always say "yes" and always refuse the gas money they offer.

Well, one night, Mike's mom asked me if I'd take David -- not his real name -- her thirteen-year-old son to the mall to get a new pair of shoes. Naturally, I agreed. David's my paper boy, so we know each other pretty well, and it's a nice long drive to the local mall so we had a chance to talk a bit. Right in the middle of our discussion about the Bulls, he comes out and says: "Are you and my brother dating each other?"

I almost drove off the road.

I tried to give him an answer, but all that I managed to say was a bunch of gibberish, and then he told me that he had overheard a conversation his parents were having concerning Mike and I, and they were talking about how they thought that we were dating each other, but didn't know how to ask us. And, believe it or not, they didn't sound too upset about it.

I decided to take a really big chance and tell David the truth. I stopped at a Arby's and we went in and had a drink; we had both had our supper so we weren't hungry. I doubt that I would have been able to eat anything then anyway. So we sat in a booth, facing each other, and I told him about how we had met and how we had fallen in love. I left out all the sex stuff, but David asked me if we "Do It". . . I just nodded. Thankfully he didn't ask for specifics!

He told me that he kinda knew something was going on between his brother and me, because his parents invited me and my parents over for Easter dinner, and the whole time we sat at the table I was holding Mike's hand-under the table naturally. David somehow saw that, and he finally put two and two together when he overheard his parents talking about us.

I asked him how he feels about me being with his brother, and he told me that he thought it was great, that he really likes me!!! He also said that he hadn't see Mike this happy in a long time. . . When I asked him what he meant by that, he got really quiet, like he said something he wished he hadn't. I really pressed him for a answer, but instead he asked if we could go to the mall and get his shoes.

On the way there, he told me about how his brother had tried to kill himself two years earlier, and one of the things Mike asked him to do was to destroy his suicide note. Instead of destroying it, David read it and then hid it. Mike spent some time in a mental hospital, and also underwent a lot of therapy, but he never told his parents the truth, that he had tried to kill himself because he was gay. Instead, he told them that he was under a lot of stress from college, and it just got to him. His parents must have bought it hook, line and sinker, because they never really asked him again about it.

All of this is upsetting to me, not only because I may have missed out on meeting an awesome guy if he had actually died, but also because so many young GLBT people kill themselves every year, and many more try to. For more on this check out the cover story in the Sunday, April 6, 1997 issue of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, about a 14-year-old boy that killed himself because he was gay and couldn't accept it. A very tragic story.

So we ended up going to the mall, and David picked out the coolest pair of Nike Air's I've ever seen! On the way home, he told me how he wished I could be his brother.

When we got to his house, David asked me to come up to his bedroom, and he said he'd give me his brother's suicide note if I promised not to ever tell Mike that I had read it. Talk about tough things!!!! I promised, and then left and went back to my place, the suspense killing me!

In his note, Mike rambled on about how he hated his uncle for taking him to that prostitute (his 21st birthday present) and how he hated that the guy he had a crush on was getting married. He also told of how much he hated being gay, because it made things so much more difficult then they already were for him.

Mike came over later in the evening, and I told him about what his brother had said, but I left out all the stuff I knew about Mike. I figured that he'd tell me that stuff when he was ready to. Besides, all of that's in the past. He was upset that his parents knew, actually he started crying about it. I told him that maybe we should just tell our parents, because it'd be better than them finding out on their own. Our big problem was finding the right time to do it.

We had been hearing about the Ellen show for a while, and we chose that night to tell our parents about us. Mike's parents invited my parents over for dinner, and we watched the episode together, along with David (the other kids were in bed). I'm not a Ellen fan, so I can't really relate to the whole show, but I think our parents thought the whole thing was pretty lame!

After the show was over, Mike and I were sitting together on the couch facing our parents and we did the old "There's something we've been wanting to tell you. . . " dialog. My parents just kinda looked at me funny, but Mike's Dad just came right out and said "We know, and it's OK with us." We took turns talking and we pretty much told them everything, except the sex stuff, which I just don't feel comfortable talking to my parents about. We were there talking for quite a while, but my parents seemed like they just didn't know what to say. My Dad told me he never had any idea about me, and he would have never suspected anything was going on between Mike and I. I like that, because neither one of us is openly gay.

Mike parents asked David how he feels about us, and he just got up and hugged me then Mike. . . I think that made things so much easier, because someone very important to us accepted us as we are. I ended up hugging my parents before I left, and I also hugged Mike's parents. I feel so much closer to them now, and especially since I no longer have to live a secret life around them. Mike ended up spending the night with me, and things felt different between us, like we were somehow closer.

The next morning my parents called me and said they'd like to have breakfast with me. . . I knew that was going to happen. There's this tradition with my parents that whenever there's something serious to discuss we go out to eat, even if it's just for a cup of coffee. We ended up going to this restaurant that has a breakfast buffet, and we sat way in the corner, my guess so that nobody would overhear us.

My parents asked me all kinds of questions, stuff that I'd rather not talk to my parents about, but it was like I had no choice. They asked A LOT of questions about sex, and I really felt like a idiot answering their questions. But I'm sure that it's hard on a parent knowing their only child's gay, so I cut them some slack. They were really surprised about the sexual experimentation I had done when I was younger, and my mom was downright shocked when she heard that I lost my virginity at twelve. I wish that I hadn't told her that now.

By the time we were done eating, I think my parents were a little more comfortable with me being gay, but they said they were still kinda shocked about me. Hopefully in time they'll feel better about things, but at least they didn't disown me or freak out or anything stupid like that!

That afternoon Mike and I went to the mall and bought each other a plain gold wedding band, and we had them engraved with each others names. Friendship rings, I like that idea a lot.

Closing Remarks

So much has been written about coming out recently, especially concerning that episode on "Ellen", that I think too much emphasis has been placed on "coming out." It's almost like being out is a status symbol, and I can't say that I like that too much. The decision on whether of not to come out is a complex issue, but I feel there's many different ways to come out. Mike and I came out to our families in a very personal way, we are still essentially in the closet, however the people that are closest to us know the truth. I don't feel any need to let the whole world know I'm gay, yet some gays feel that's the only way to come out.

Personally, I feel that if you can accept yourself for being gay/lesbian/bi/trans, then you are "out" to the most important person of all: Yourself.


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