It’s been almost 14 years since I came out of the closet. I’ve now been with my partner, almost as long as I was married. And, I’ve almost spent a third of my life on the other side of the closet door, being authentically who I am – a gay man. So what does that all add up to? A lot of joy, heartache, peace, and regrets. Today I want to focus on the regrets, and don’t worry, this is not meant to be a downer, so please keep on readin’ on.
Ironically, one of the things that keep most people in the closet is the possibility that they’ll regret coming out of the closet. It could be the regret of losing friends and family. Possibly it’s regretting that they didn’t do it sooner. Or what if, being gay isn’t what they thought it be?
Of course the flip side is the regret of not coming out of the closet. Not living your truth. Being perpetually miserable on the inside while wearing a mask of false happiness. Growing old, never breaking the pattern of living to make others feel more comfortable about who you are as person.
Either way, it seems to be a stacked deck until you accept, a regret can only be a regret if you create it and let it stay alive in your life as a regret. This was one of the toughest lessons I learned coming out of the closet, I don’t regret it one bit. In fact once I started looking closer at what I regretted as I came through the closet doors, I realized, my regrets were beautiful life lessons in the rough just waiting to be chipped away and exposed as gems of wisdom.
Regret #1 – Forcing my sexuality into people’s faces. You would have thought I’d won the season finale of Project Runway the way I strutted my sexual orientation. I wasn’t flamboyant, I was vocal, and cavalier. Basically, like it or not you were going to hear I was gay and to bad if you didn’t like it. If I could have a “do over,” I would have subtly found ways to share my sexuality with others when the inquiries were made, not when I decided they needed to hear it. In other words, to command respect, give respect.
Regret #2 – Change your stance and change it now. I believe in myself. I know I’m gay. And, for awhile there I needed to fight, defend, and use every tactic in the book to get others to change their point of view about homosexuality. I’m not going to say that didn’t work; at times it did, but probably because at 6’4 and 270 pounds, I’m a force to be reckoned with, and that’s before I put on my pumps! Then I began to realize, I was a direct reflection of the people who were so adamantly trying to coerce me to change. How can you ask someone else to change, then turn around and defy them when they ask you to change? It’s like oil and water, the two just don’t mix. In other words, demanding change from those demanding you change leads to a whole lot of demanding, and no understanding.