My complete coming out story

I’ve written about parts of this in other posting here on this blog, but I haven’t put the whole story together.

gay & disabled

I first came out to myself where I really admitted to myself that I preferred guys over girls. I hated myself. I tried to pray it away – God, how I tried. I cried and prayed. I did everything I could think of hoping I would change. I did not want to be any more different than I already was. I think this was one of the reasons why my downward spiral began.

High school was okay, I wasn’t teased or anything like that it was fine. I had a handful of friends, but I still felt like I was always on the outside. I grew up in the projects and I know that if it came out that I was gay; it wouldn’t have been good for me. It was different times. It was the mid-1970s. It was never mentioned, but it was known to be frowned upon. I grew up Catholic, so you can imagine what that was like. So, I kept quiet with things being what they were. Still, I had good friends; not a lot of friends, but I kept the key aspect of my life private. I didn’t tell anyone. Not even my closest friends. My disability avoided a lot of unanswered questions.

For a lot of my life, I remained celibate. I never dated; although, I did start to fall for one or two guys over the years, with one who “scared me straight” for quite a while. He was older. We never told each other outright, but the feelings and the flirting were there. He invited me over one night and I am sure that the only reason nothing happened was because he was waiting for me to make the first move something I wasn’t ready to do at that time.

When I was in my late twenties, I was ready to come out. My brother beat me to it. My parents soon asked me if I was gay, but he came out because he was sick and I didn’t want to cause any further worry, so I said, “No.” I should have said, “Yes,” and gotten it over with. I am a hundred percent sure that my parents would have been cool with it (the way they dealt with my brother leads me to believe my parents would have been okay with it).

When I moved away and eventually came out. It was freeing. Imagine the one thing you don’t want others to know about you and then imagine it getting out to everyone. At first, you think, “That’s it, no one will like me now,” but it is also freeing. Everyone knows. You’ve reached the point where either they do accept or they do not. Those who don’t; well, one has to wonder… Doesn’t one?

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell is my full coming out story.
—Robert Confiant 18 September 2018

Depression and life

I just listened to a TEDx talk on suicide and life. Once upon a time, I could not do this.
I am told quite often that I am a strong person. They say this because I have dealt with having a disability, so well. And if I am honest, in some ways they are correct. I am a person who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Back when I was younger, I didn’t let my dis-ablity stop me from doing what I wanted to do. My dis-ability (sic) is not who I am. I am not defined by my dis-ability. I live with it. To me, it is not brave, nor heroic, nor anything special. I have always had a bum leg. I don’t know any different, so this is my “normal.”

Somewhere on this path of life, I lost my confidence. I stopped believing in myself. I developed a low self-esteem about myself. My depression resulted because I believed that I couldn’t do anything. I was told, by kindly meaning professionals, that I couldn’t do this, or I couldn’t do that. I don’t blame them for what resulted. It just I took their statements to be realistic about my career choices to heart. I felt that I couldn’t do anything. It’s strange, how my all or nothing attitude played a factor even back then. I am an “All or nothing” kind of guy. I don’t like to admit it, but I still am. The result is that I suffered from depression in my late teens and early twenties. The fact that I was gay didn’t help. I was closeted, gay young man who grew up in the projects. I was supposed to be tough. I was also a strict Catholic and these two aspects were “polar opposites” in their views. I still joke about going to hell (I don’t believe it, but I still joke about it). So really, my depression stemmed from my lack of confidence in myself and the loathing I felt about being different. I gave up. I stopped living and I couldn’t see a good future for myself. I was depressed.

After I hit rock bottom, I went to counselling and I sought out help. I wasn’t working because of the recession at the time and because I felt I couldn’t do anything with me having a dis-ability. I got work eventually after I went on some job training course. It helped boost my confidence again. I later returned to school to upgrade my skills. The success I found there also contributed to my confidence boost. Step-by-step, I began to snap out of my depression and my confidence returned. It was a slow process, but one that built a strong foundation on which I could stand upon.

Today, this is all history. I have had my bouts of depression, but I have figured out tricks to help me snap out of it. My depression now stems from Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). With this realization, I find that my depression is manageable, if I caught it. Sometimes it can be a week before I realize I am in a state of depression. When I finally do come to realize this, I do the opposite of what I feel I want to do. Namely, I go out, instead of staying in; I socialize, instead of shutting myself out. For me, this doing opposite works. I also purchased a light for the winter months. It helps.

I am at a good place. I can’t say I never get depressed, but when I do, I can deal with it. For the most part, I am happy with my life. I no longer worry about the past, and I don’t fret about the future. I stay in the now. This was another issue back then, I couldn’t stay in the now.

Most of the time, I am that strong person I appear to be, but sometimes I am not. For those times I am not, I work on it. Over all though, life is good.

For those of you who are struggling. I am reposting this image:

Mental health continuum-mobile

Get to know the signs and if you are in any phase other than healthy, seek help. There is no shame in asking for help. We all need a hand up occasionally.

My life may not always be exactly what I want, or I wish for, but it is a good life. I have my health. I have a good family, partner and friends who are always there for me, and a decent job. A hobby that I love – writing, contrary to what our income obsessive materialistic society wishes to sell us, these are what truly matter.

Peace and love.
—Robert Confiant 15 September 2018

I no longer do religion

I grew up strict Roman Catholic. I was pretty “goody, goody” as a kid growing up. The first time I swore was when I was in Grade 7, and I did so on a dare. I remember it clearly. There were only a handful of boys in the classroom with me and they kept promoting me to swear, which I did. I said, “Fuck off,” but it was merely stated. There was no emotion behind it.

In my late teens and early twenties, I thought of entering the seminary. I attended church numerous times a week. After I hit thirty and then completed university, this desire to attend the seminary only intensified. I started to attend church daily and sought to complete the two philosophy courses I required in order to apply for the seminary. I even started researching and corresponding with religious orders and the diocese of Toronto. Around this time my brother had died, my dad was dying, another family member was fighting cancer. My father passed away and then my mother got sick; this was the first of my doubts in God. Also, I began to question my religious education and teachings. I began to disagree with the church on its stance on homosexuality, women’s issues – their role within the church (priesthood opt), abortion teachings, and its stance on married priest and celibacy (I believe they should make this optional). I guess the final straw that broke, which caused me to question my faith, were the horrendous reports of sexual abuse by priests coming out of Ireland, some states in the US, and Newfoundland. I ceased going to church.

Losing my religion

Funny thing though, I never stopped believing in God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit. I continued to pray.

At the age of 40, I came out, and with the churches stance on gays, church was history. I attempted to go back. First, I attended the United Church, and then Presbyterian Church. I am not sure why I ceased attending church altogether, nor have I really quested why. Perhaps this was because I had my faith. I realized I did not need to attend church.

I was watching online some of the victims of child molestation by priest from the latest report coming from Pennsylvania when a Bible verse came to mind:

“No longer will they teach neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.”
Heb 8:11 (NIV)

Actually, the recall was from the previous verse:

“… I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
Heb 8:10 (NIV)

I believe the abuse and the residential school issues are indications that the institution of the church is dead. The church is done (The residential school issue, in case you are not familiar, was a series of boarding schools for indigenous peoples founded by the Canadian government and ran by churches for assimilating indigenous children into Canadian culture. Many children attending these schools were physically, emotionally and spiritually abused). It’s leaders no longer have the moral authority to guide or teach people. Does this mean that the spiritual body, which is the true church, is likewise decease? Of course not, I believe we the church, it’s people, have arrived at the moment where the church, as an institution, has concluded and we are the cusp where Christ will be found from within in our contemplation and from within our hearts.

I for one believe and I don’t require attending a building to prove it.
—Robert Confiant 25 August 2018

Footnotes:
1) Canadian Indian residential school system, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_school_system
2) Catholic Church sexual abuse cases, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases
3) Bible verses, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+8-10&version=NIV

Why I let you go

We said, “Good-bye.”
Amiably.
It was no longer working out – for either of us.
Some days, I wish we could turn back the clock.
But, I know this will never be.
There was a reason, why we parted.
One of which was, we each had different goals.
You should know that our parting, broke that part of me that was you.

Life is like this for some.
It was fun at the start.
The sex was great.
Until it was not.
One of us wanted more than the other one could give…
…Or wanted to give,
I no longer know; I no longer care.
‘Cause our parting, broke that part of me that was you.

“Soulmates,” we once called each other.
Now, we’re just “mates.”
You are like family to me.
Like all my other exes,
fuck-buddies,
or friends.
You’re my friend, my family.
This is all you can ever be, to me.
‘Cause our parting, broke that part of me that was you.

Now you know, why I let you go.
—Robert Confiant 29 July 2018

Pivotal points, forks in the road

I had lunch with two co-workers last Thursday, one was leaving at the end of this week to pursue other avenues, and she wanted to get together before I left on vacation.

We got to discussing life, new beginnings and life choices. I told the two younger ladies what I have learned about life changes, which is this: There are pivotal points in one’s life where a decision is so important that it can change the course of one’s life dramatically. I explained that there are four, or five, points in my lifetime where a decision if made differently, would have altered my life completely.

fork in a road

One such choice would have been a co-worker I knew from my first full-time job at Ad-Scan. I believed, with hindsight, that he loved me and he wanted to be with me. If we had moved in together as roommates as he suggested, then I would have come out a lot sooner than I did. I would have built a life around us.

Another choice was to dropping out of college, the return to get my OAC/Grade 13 before attending university. If I had remained in college, I would have different friends and a career as a lab technician, and I would have built a life around this scenario.

About the same time as university, I met a certain co-worker. It was because of her that I moved to Vancouver. If we had never met at the bookstore those summer months, then I would never have thought of moving to Vancouver. I would have built a life in Toronto, I am not sure what that life could have been, but I guess I would be in IT somewhere living close to work, or still at home with my brother.

Another was when the co-worker mentioned previously (just above) passed away, I got pretty home sick once and I was tempted to give it all up, but my sister talked me out of it stating I had a good career with a pension and good benefits, I also built a life here and I had friends here. It would be a shame to just throw it all away and to have to restart all over again.

Lastly, if I had never met my partner online, or he did not answer my ad, then I would have had a different life than the one I currently have. Perhaps, I may have even moved back to the Toronto area.

We all have pivotal moments in our lives. Points so critical, these forks in the road, that a decision one way, or another, leads to an alternate life existence.

I have the advantage of age and hindsight. I know my pivotal life points, these forks in the road. There are only five, but they lead me to where I am today.
—Robert Confiant 23 July 2018

Gay and self-loathing

beers

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

 

 

To be honest or not

I may or may not publish this post. I will write it and give it a while before, or if, I post this posting.

When one should be honest, first to oneself and then to others.

honest

This is the question… It is a lot like the coming out process, where one needs to come out to oneself and to be honest to oneself about being LGBTQ first before one can come out to others.

I was 22 years old before I admitted to myself that what I was more than a phase. I was 29/30 years old when I was ready to come out to others, but something prevented my coming out. It would take another 10 years for me to come out; I was 40 years old. I have always known that I was gay. I just didn’t know it had a name until I was 14 years old.

Anyway, I am at another crossroad in my life. I wish to retire, but I cannot realistically do this for another 4 years. I wish to take up writing full-time; however, unless my writing starts producing large quantities of money, it isn’t going to happen, and winning the lottery is a pipe dream, so I have no other option than to continue working.

Oh well, 4 years is not too long, the time will fly by.

I am of a generation where we were raised to do an honest day’s work. I plan to do this until the end (It is just some days will be harder than others. Although to be fair on myself, I really do work hard most days).

As a result, I will continue browsing write on the side. This is better than not writing at all.

I am just being honest with myself and to others. It is how I feel now.
—Robert Confiant 22 May 2018