Time to Come Out Again...
It's funny how every time you meet another person, it's a question of coming out all over again. Every new person I meet brings up the question of how much I can tell them.
Tonight, I'm babysitting for a single father for the first time. We met yesterday and did a runthrough of their normal betime routine so that I'd know what to expect. Once again, as he starts to ask friendly questions about where I'm living and what kind of things I do for fun, I wonder what to disclose.
For example - we're both vegetarian and he asked me if I'd ever read anything by Gandhi. I told him I was very involved with the teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and then I remembered. It's hard to know how much to tell a person and whether or not it's necessary to avoid the truth.
I'm not sure how he'd take it. He's seems pretty liberal and accepting, but also very religious, so I'm not sure what he'd think. I also have to keep in mind that I'm watching his young daughter and people sometimes think weird things about the GLBT community and children. I'm just going to let things play out and I'm planning to just tell the truth when and if it comes up, but it got me thinking about all this and how you come out over and over and over again all throughout life.
Playing it by ear
It's not always easy to know when is the right time to tell someone that you're gay.
When I meet somebody and shake their hand for the first time I don't say "I'm Rick and I'm gay." But if I develope some kind of relationship with a person, over time my personal life will eventually come up in the conversation.
Sometimes I'll casually sneak it into the conversation. For instance, if we're talking about hiking and camping ( which I love to do ) I'll say something like, "I dated a man once and he and I used to camp up on Mount Mitchell. There's a lot of great hiking trails up there."
Other times the need just arrises and you're faced with the decision to tell them.
Once I was talking to a man who lived near downtown Atlanta. He said, "I love living in Atlanta but I have a problem with all the homosexuals there." So I just came right out and said, "I'm gay." I knew that he needed to know that I was gay before he continued his conversation and embarrassed himself. He said, "Oh. Okay. I didn't know that."
We moved on to another subject and it didn't come up again until I saw him on another occassion. That's when he said, "I'm sorry about what I said about homosexuals." And I said, "You really don't have any reason to apologize because you didn't say anything."
With a close straight buddy of mine, I told him only a few months after I had aknowledged to myself that I was gay. He and I were close friends so one afternoon I said, "You need to know something about me. I'm gay." Since he and I were such good buddies he handled it very well. That was 32 years ago. We're still good friends today.
It's not always easy to know when's the right time. Sometimes you just have to play it by ear and do what feels comfortable. Unfortunately job security keeps many LGBT people from being as open as they'd like to be. That's why job discrimination protection is so important.
Being free to be ourselves makes us happier people. And happiness is what it's all about.
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