Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gay Meme

I'm taking up the challenge of another meme.  This one Cubby passed along.  The subject is "Coming Out."  Here is  my story:


Ten years old in this picture.  I knew I was 'different' for six years by the time this picture was taken
Name: Buddy Bear
  NName:  Ron


   Age:    69




   How old were you when you first realized you were gay?


 Four years old.  I remember clearly because it was before I went into first grade (5 years old).  I had a different good feeling when adult men would wink at me or pay attention to me.  Plus, I liked looking at them as they walked away from me and the way their pants moved on their behinds.  It wasn't a sexual feeling because I was too young to know that feeling but it was definitely a different feeling than I had around adult women.  I knew that it was a 'special feeling' even at that young age and I knew that I was different.







Pat, another straight friend who isn't bothered that I'm gay

Renee - one of my many straight friends (mostly female)

Do you have more gay friends or straight friends? 
I have more straight friends than I do gay.  It is not of my choosing though.    I wish I had more gay friends. The few that I do have I value their friendship very much but most gays I know are only interested in sex and that's not where I am.  I'm not against sex but I prefer friendship and caring first.  Always have been, always will be.  I've lost a lot of 'friends' over the years just because I wouldn't go to bed with them.  
Dessie - straight guy who loved to flirt with me and me with him (of course)

Biggest turn on?
 Flirting.  To me there is nothing sexier than a good-looking man (preferably straight) smiling at me and, perhaps, giving me a wink.  I love it!  

Biggest turn off?
 A selfish, self-involved person who is only interested in what they can get out of you for themselves.  Sex, money or both.  You're only good for what you can do for them.  Straight or gay, the biggest turn-off for me.  Unfortunately I have found more than a few selfish gay men.  That fact has been one of the biggest disappointments in my life.  I expected the homophobia but I didn't expect this level of selfishness in the gay community.  I'm a naturally generous person but I've found out that some view that as a weakness.  As my longtime friend Bob M. has often told me, "Ron, you're the most naive person I've ever met."  Perhaps he is right.   

Ever been harassed due to your orientation? Yes, many times.  I've lost two good jobs due to homophobia.  I've been harassed leaving a gay bar, run off (while I was walking on the side of the road) the road by a car full of drunk teenagers in Provincetown, Mass, attacked by a group of teenagers while sitting alone on the Rehoboth Boardwalk late on summer day waiting for my friend who was sunning himself on the beach (Poodle Beach probably was the reason we were a dead giveaway), and numerous times walking home from the bars when I lived in Center City Philadelphia.  I've never hidden the fact that I'm gay, and even though I'm not a stereotypical gay (a flamer), I've frequently been the target of taunts, and threats of physical abuse because I almost always went out alone (my partner doesn't like to go out) and thus a convenient target for homophobes, usually teenagers who get drunk and decide to gay bash to prove their manhood
My classmate at my 35th class reunion - she knows I'm gay
Doesn't bother her

Have you ever been surprised at the reaction of people who know you are gay? 
No, never.  I can usually figure out who the homophobes are and the people who are cool with it.  If I can't, I don't care what they think.  It's their problem how they view me, not mine.  I don't let others rule my life.  This attitude has often caused me problems but it is the only way I can live.  I do not live according to what others think that is the way I should live.  Religion or personal life.  I am free of domination by any man (or woman.) 
Me living the free life out of the closet

What is the worst gay stereotype?
 That we're only interested in having sex with ANY man. 
I think you're in the wrong bar honey


Are you a stereotype? 
No.  I'm not a flamer, mincer, swisher, or on-the-prowl 24/7 for sex with any man who wears pants (or doesn't)  I am my own person which sometimes causes consternation with some of my gay peers because they believe I should live my life the way they live their lives.  Again, I am my own person with my own rules for living my life.  No one or no ideology dictates how I live my life.  
One of my 200 plus pictures from the 2010 Gay March on Washington D.C.

Ever been to a pride rally? 
No, rallies but I did attend the first gay March in Washington, D.C. (1979) and the last one (2010) 

 Do you go to gay bars? 
In my youth I lived for the weekends at the gay bars.  I quit going when I was 37 years old when I realized I would rather be home in bed (alone) than being at a gay bar when the lights flashed on at last call ("What am I doing here?")
Me at 21 - still a Dork

How old were you when you first told someone you were gay? 
21 years old

Did you plan it? If so, how? 
Yes.  I got tired or hiding and after my Mother caught me in bed with a married older man, I decided to tell everyone I knew and let the cards fall where they may.

What made you choose that person to tell?
 I told everybody at once by mail or phone call or in person.  
My friend Brad and me (on the right) having a good time in P-town!

How did you feel?  
Liberated.  I felt FREE!  No more hiding, lies or excuses.  It was scary and wonderful all at the same time.

Have you ever been snubbed by someone after coming out to them? 
Yes, I lost quite a few friends and was shunned by my family initially.  We reconciled after a couple of years.  Some family members ares till uncomfortable with me but that is their problem, not mine.
The first Christmas with my family after I came out
I'm on the right, check out my father look at me
Volumes

Have you come out to your family?
Yes, they were the first ones I came out to...in person..hysteria reigned...they tried to take me to the hospital (by force) for the 'cure'.  I physically resisted and they left me alone (shunned) for a couple of years until they invited me for a Thanksgiving dinner.  I accepted the invitation on the condition that I could bring my 'lover' (the pre-Stonewall term for 'partner') with me.  They reluctantly accepted and discovered that they actually liked my Bill (who was not a stereotype gay but a very, naturally, butch man who had a lot of mechanical skills - who knew a gay guy could build an addition to a house?)
Me (on the left) and my two Army buddies Richard and Dick

Me (on the right) with my two Army buddies - a prophetic pose for sure



Why did you come out at that point? 
I was tired of the hard work of lying plus lying doesn't come naturally to me.  I had just gotten out of the Army with a top secret clearance and saw many of my gay friends discharged from the Army with less than honorable discharges during the many witch hunts conducted at NSA during the Sixties...our government in action.  I didn't want to live the rest of my life according to someone else's terms.  I am who I am, deal with it.  Either you're my friend or you're not.  If anyone in my family rejected me, which they did, that was their loss, not mine.  Coming out at 21 years old was the best decision I ever made in my life.  The second best was joining the Army which matured me tremendously and gave me the courage to come out at the beginning of my life.
Me at work at my bank job
Me at work at my hotel job

Are you out at work? 
Always have been since I was 21 years old.  It hasn't always been easy but it is the only way I will live my life.  I'm fortunate now that I work for two partners who just happened to be gay.  I didn't know they were gay when I applied for the job but I am glad now that I can work the rest of my life and not have to worry about some homophobe taking up a cause against me just because I'm gay.
I do love a man in uniform - me - 1962

If not, why not? 
 I stayed in the closet while I was in the Army because if I came out I would have received a less than honorable discharge (at best) and at worst ended up in the stockade (for lying on my application "Do you have homosexual tendencies" when I enlisted in the Army)  Yes, gay men ended up in the stockade just for being gay.  It all depended on who your company commander was.  If you had a homophobe for a company commander you would brutalized first (beaten up) then tossed in the stockade for six months before your were discharged.  It happened.  I saw it.  

If you’ve been outed unwillingly, who did it? 
There was never an occasion to be outed unwillingly.  I was always ahead of anyone outing me.  If someone thought they were outing me, then that was fine with me.  I have nothing to hide.  I am who I am.  'Deal with it' has always been my attitude.  This attitude still drives my 82 year old partner (he of the 'old school gays') to distraction.

What does being out mean to you? 
FREEDOM!
Me (in the middle) with my friends Paul and Jack - freedom to smile

What advice would you give someone wanting to come out? 
Come out immediately.  Don't put it off.  Do it now.  There is no 'right time' to come out.  Just DO IT!  Who cares what anyone else thinks?  You only have one life to live.  Live your life for yourself, not the way someone else thinks you should live it.
This is my attitude - enjoy life now because tomorrow you may be dead and if you live your live in the closet who have you pleased?

If you could do it all again, would you do it any differently? If so, how? 
 I wouldn't change anything.  I couldn't come out before or when I was in the Army for the previously stated reasons.  I came out as soon as I could after trying the closet for a couple of months.  I realized at that early age (21 years of age, 1963) that I couldn't live my life to other people's requirements.  I just could not do it.  I felt a force within me, like a volcano, coming up and demanding to be let out.  To this day I don't understand how anyone can live their life in the closet.  Why torture yourself that way just to please others?  It just doesn't make sense to me.  
My life today,
Happy and smiling out of the closet

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story!
    What is stereotype?

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  2. Tai,
    I'm glad you enjoyed my story. We each have a different one, a different journey. My definition of a stereotype is 'placing everybody in the same category, usual derogatory.' For instance, many straight people have a stereotype of a gay guy as someone who loves Broadway show tunes (I don't), is effeminate (I'm not) and is on the constant prowl for sex II'm not). However one of the gay stereotypes that I am guilty of is that I like all Bette Davis movies. I plead guilty! I also can't whistle or throw a football. Hey, I think I just found a subject for my next blog!

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  3. Yeah Lar, sorry to break it to you. I hope this doesn't affect our friendship.

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  4. you're gay and you don't like show tunes? turn in your gay card this minute, young man! LOL

    interesting read, ron; thanks for sharing. this str8 girl also lives her life as she sees fit; damn other people's conventions/ideas!

    anne marie in philly

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  5. Ron,

    I never saw that photo of you sitting in the deck chair tipping your hat. That was a great photo of you. That was my second favorite picture in your post.

    Lar

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  6. Great meme. Thanks Ron!

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  7. Anne Marie,
    I knew I liked you for a good reason...I like your attitude!

    Lar,
    I thought I had posted that photo before. It was one of those spontaneous photos which, as you know, are always the best.

    Cubby,
    Thank you!

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  8. Love all the pictures, but the 'bookend' ones are the best! You are one cute ten year-old, and one cute sixty-nine year-old! And we learn something new every post, this time that you were at NSA. I myself was on the Fort George G. Meade "campus" 1969 and 1970 (Air Force), working at NSA. And as far as the security clearance? Can I keep a secret? Oh, yes!;-) The funny thing -- if you can call it that -- is that during my time at NSA, you could be "out" as a civilian employee. The Federal Government at least understood that dumping someone with a valuable skill set just because they were gay was just a trifle insane. Even though DADT is a thing of the past now, I wonder if being "out" will impact getting or not getting a security clearance in the military today.

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  9. Dave,
    Thank you very much! I'm surprised at how many guys I've met in the past couple of years who were also at Ft. George G. Meade. One of the guys at our regular Friday Night Dine Out was a Marine the same time I was there (1960-1963)! I doubt that NSA will let you be openly gay even today. Old habits are hard to break and the military is still convinced that gays can be blackmailed although there has never been one case of that happening.

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