I was out with two friends for a few drinks at a local watering hole yesterday (well it was local for two of us, for the other person it used to be a local bar before he moved out of the neighbourhood). We got discussing about “the gay thing” and gay acceptance. This got me thinking a little while ago, so I just have to put my thoughts out there.
We are all from that generation where it was expected we’d get married and have kids. The pressure of conforming to societal norms was insurmountable. My two drinking companions each did the marry thing and had kids.
I could relate to the “not coming out” thing, but not the heterosexual normality. I was (as far as most people knew) asexual. I was celibate. I was going to come out in my early thirties, but my brother beat me to it. He had HIV and AIDS, so when my family asked if I were gay, I said, “No.” It was all I could do to prevent myself from hyperventilating if you want to know the truth; I was sweating and my heart was beating through my chest (or at least it felt like it). I said, “No,” for two reasons: I wasn’t acting on my impulses and I grew up strict Catholic, so I just stayed that way – celibate. I remained that way for another ten years. I came out at forty years old.
Even though the three of us knew we were gay, we didn’t come out until much later.
I cannot speak for my friends, but there was a lot of self loathing about my being gay. I knew what I was on some level, but I didn’t know what it was called until I was fourteen: “Homosexual/Gay.” All I knew before then was that I liked boys more than girls. As a Catholic, I knew this was wrong. I kept it to myself. I tried to “pray away the gay,” but the best I could manage was to be asexual.
I tried suicide. I am not sure if the gay thing played a part (maybe). I had other issues related to self-esteem and my disability. I think it is a combination of all of these that played a factor in my depression. I had to hit rock bottom before I sought out help. It slowly and eventually I got better.
Lots of queer people my age, or older, conformed to social norms and did the hetero-marriage thing. It was the pressure and the non-acceptance thing. Most did not want to be gay and they did everything in their power to ensure they weren’t gay. I think that is why a lot of my generation, and before, drank/drink so much after we came out. The drinking issue is not discussed much by gays, but apparently there have been studies done (Although, I do not wish to Google this, but there is a lot of material on this topic).
The point of this is that for the most part growing up in my generation, and before, there is a lot of self-loathing about being gay. From the discussion we had yesterday, it seems a lot of us have a lot of baggage because of it.
I guess that I wasn’t the only one. Some days, it felt that way.
—Robert Confiant 1 July 2018