Friday, June 20, 2008

Coming out - Part V (the finale)

When we arrived in front of his townhouse he said he worried about me driving all the way back home at such a late hour. He feared I might fall asleep while driving, so he invited me to stay in one of his guest rooms and promised to be a gentleman, remembering my speech earlier that night. I thanked him for the offer but said I wasn’t sleepy at all, and was sure I would make it home okay.

He’d told me earlier that night that he’d just bought and moved into his townhouse a few months ago, so I asked if he would give me a tour of his new home. He agreed.

The tour ended in the family room so we sat on the sofa and talked awhile longer. We began kissing, touching, and one thing led to another. Without saying a word to Wolf about it, I decided I was ready to move on with my new life. Perhaps he figured it out from the look in my eyes, the passion in my kisses, or maybe the bulge in my pants.

He held my hand as he led me upstairs to his bedroom, where we kissed and touched some more and I finally decided to let go. Still kissing, we began undressing each other, and I started to shake with nervousness. He found that endearing and hugged me tightly.

We didn't leave his house for the next two days, until Monday, the 4th of July. It was glorious, it was magical. It was everything I'd hoped it would be.

I immediately stopped going to all of the Kingdom Hall meetings and did not return phone messages from any JWs except my parents. I told them I was going to visit a friend out of state so they wouldn't expect to see me for at least a week.


After about 2 weeks of driving to Wolf's house immediately after work, staying the night, then stopping at my place in the morning to shower and change clothes on my way to work, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I had to tell my family I was gay and that I wasn’t going to be a JW anymore, even though I knew there would be serious consequences.

Timing worked in my favor. My sister, her husband, and 2 sons were due for a visit from Florida and we had an appointment to have a family portrait taken. After the photo session we all went to my parents’ house for dessert. After finishing our desserts and coffee, with a serious look on my face I told my parents I had something important to tell them and my sisters. My mother asked my brothers-in-law to take the children to the family room so we could talk privately in the living room.


I took a deep breath and told them I was gay. I repeated much of what I’d told my father, about having known and fought it for years, having prayed for a cure, etc. Then I dropped the bomb: “I’ve begun a relationship with a man. I’m not sorry about it, and I’m not going to stop it. This is not a negotiable topic, and I expect that I will be disfellowshipped.”

'Disfellowshipped' is the term used by JWs to describe the status of former members who either choose to leave the religion, as I did, or are kicked out for not being repentant of some 'sin'. JWs are instructed to completely cut off all association and contact with disfellowshipped people, even relatives. JWs are taught that disfellowshipped people are 'dead to God', so they should be regarded that way by members.

My revelation to my family was followed by stunned looks on everyone’s faces, and then tears. They tried to talk me out of it, suggesting therapy and other useless exercises, which I politely refused, reminding them my decision was not up for negotiation. It got pretty emotional for all of us as the reality set in. I did break down somewhat, but I did not back down at all.

When I left them that night, I knew it would be the last time I’d see my family. I wasn't sure how I'd manage such a devastating loss, but I knew I had to try. I just had to.

The next week I wrote a letter to the Elders informing them that I had “committed fornication” (their term for sex outside of marriage), that I was not repentant, and that I knew the result would be disfellowshipping. For clarity I told them I no longer considered myself a JW, so I would decline any suggestion to meet with them, seeing no point in discussing this non-negotiable personal matter.

I've met other gay former JWs who chose a less decisive break from the religion. Some simply moved away and kept their sexuality a secret from their family and former congregation, feeling this would preserve their relationship with their family. For me it was important to be clear and proud about taking control of my life. I did not want to have to constantly edit my speech around my family or make up lies about the congregation in the new area to which I'd moved. I told the truth because I was ready to be done with that chapter of my life. Even my relationship with my family wasn't worth sacrificing my authenticity or integrity.

I began living at Wolf’s house practically from the night we met. I left my condo furnished for several months until I was sure our living arrangement would work out, and then rented the condo to a friend from work. With a little rearranging at Wolf’s, we fit most of my furniture in, and what was duplicated I sold at a moving sale.

I had just officially 'come out' and began living with my boyfriend. Life was good!


But this was a time for enormous growth and change for me. Finally out from under the control of the JW religion I was beginning to think for myself, and there was plenty to think about! There was so much I wanted to learn and know and experience.

I volunteered weekly at Food & Friends, an organization that prepares and delivers three meals a day to home bound people with AIDS at no cost to them. I formed and directed an a cappella jazz group that sang charts I arranged. I saw a play that featured gay people. I met a transgender woman. I celebrated my first birthday and Christmas. I was like a sponge, soaking up much as possible of what Life had to offer.

But all of this changed me. No longer was I that same na├»ve young man, content to fill in a place in my closeted boyfriend’s life. Every day I was creating a new page in my own life, as an openly gay man. I hadn’t forgotten about those 4 happy couples in the diner who live in their smartly decorated California ranch style houses with the red Spanish tile roof, who host dinner parties and serve cocktails and play Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and who roll their eyes at the other who is searching for a coupon while grocery shopping together, and who will end their day cuddled up on their sofa watching TV together. I still wanted all that.

It became unhappily evident that our goals in life were too different. I didn’t want to pretend to be Wolf's roommate every time his parents came to visit, and he didn’t want to roll his eyes as I searched for a coupon while grocery shopping together. So after 3 years together and several discussions on this topic, we parted as friends and I moved out. Several gay friends helped me load the U-haul and take my stuff back to my condo, which had just become vacant.


Although disappointed that my relationship with Wolf had not turned out as I’d hoped, I was at the same time excited to be following my heart, trying my best to live an authentic life, on my terms.

I felt like more learning and growth were just ahead for me.

And the next day, I met Spouse.

Here's how we met, our 1st date, 2nd date, and 3rd date - all in the same week. Yeah, I work kinda fast.

Crush du Jour: Konrad Bolt

10 comments:

seriouslyflippant said...

Mark,

I wanted to wait until this saga was concluded before I told you how much I've enjoyed reading this. It's inspirational. You are an amazingly brave man, and today, you are my hero.

Girl, there's a SHOWTIME mini-series in this! You've written the script! Just make it happen. So many people could help to be healed by your story.

Thank you for putting this out there.

Hugs and Continental Kisses.

-Gregory

cb said...

Thank God for Disfellowshipping!

But... do you ever see your family now?

UprightGuy said...

My folks got me a dollhouse for Christmas one year as a kid, Not a lot to tell them after that.

EMikeGarcia said...

Words cannot express how awesome it was to read your story. From church, to Badlands, to spouse.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Shirley Heezgay! said...

Whew! Wow.

So you met Spouse the next day, and started immediately or did you date around a bit.

Oh, and upright guy, you kills me!

Java said...

This is a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I have enjoyed every day, and the anticipation of the next installment.

TankMontreal said...

What an amazing story. Fascinating and well-told.
I wonder if you'll motivate other JW's along the way.
In any case, big hug. You are a hero.

afod said...

What a life-changing moment when you came to the realization as to who you were as a gay man. And did you come out in a big way with your volunteerism, forming and directing the A Cappella group, and arranging charts. Loved your comment, "I celebrated my first birthday and Christmas."

Biki Honko said...

What an incredible moving story, tear inducing story. I was stunned that your parents would choose a religion over their flesh and blood, living son.

Thank you for writing this. I think it deserves its own tag and not lumped into the coming out one. Or maybe link those pages in the "about me". You had an incredible story and it needs a wider readership.

Fearsome Beard said...

Wow. That was not an easy road. Big hug.