EMPOWERMENT :: Coming Out Of The Closet At 57

By on October 3, 2013

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IT’S NEVER TOO LATE :: When I was asked to write this it was with a great deal of trepidation that I agreed. After some thought I realized that there are no doubt hundreds like me, struggling as I’ve struggled with the realization after years of being married that I am gay.

When I think about my teens I realize I’ve been gay all my life. When I was fourteen I had a couple of minor experiences with boys my age, but just wrote them off as part of growing up. After all, statistics still abound that say most boys at one time or another experiment with other boys.

But living in a very small town and born in a generation where being gay was something to keep very hidden, I pushed it to the back of my mind, going through high school, having girlfriends and heterosexual sex.

In other words, I lead a very ‘normal’ life – that is until I found myself coming out of the closet at 57.

I know now I was pretty screwed up person, extremely temperamental, with difficulty getting along with my mother and siblings. I felt ostracized at school because I was a very good student but not into sports. (I would just as soon read a book than play football.) I put all this down to the fact that my father died when I was very young and I was without a father figure.

I married, had children and continued on being “normal”.

Twelve years into my marriage I had an encounter with the husband of a friend of mine. We were downtown in Toronto one night and got drunk. This was during the times of the infamous Toronto massage parlours, and we decided we would visit one. We were put into separate rooms, told to strip and were given a very small towel. As we knew in advance, the women there were hookers, however neither of us fell prey to their charms. We left. On the way home in his car though, my friend confessed he was aroused, pulled over to the side of the road, and I had my first sexual experience with a man.

I was stunned, firstly because I never thought my friend would do something like that, and secondly because I enjoyed it so much. After that though, my “normal” life continued, for the next five years until I went to Vancouver on a business trip and met a former employee for dinner. She was a lesbian, and after dinner she suggested going to a gay bar. I agreed. Her best friend Mike (not his real name) joined us. My friend ended up leaving early; Mike and I stayed on and watched male strippers while we finished our drinks. It was my first time in a gay bar and I must say I really enjoyed it. Mike offered to drive me back to my hotel; he came up for a drink and we ended up in bed. Mike was the first man I had ever kissed and that was the start of the awakening of very strong feelings within me. But still I did nothing, until two years went by and I had another encounter with a gay friend. I then began to consider myself bi-sexual, a first attempt at giving a name to the feelings I was having. But along with those feelings came huge inner turmoil and horrible feelings of guilt regarding my wife, my children, my family and my friends. What was I doing to them?

An opportunity to work and live overseas – alone – arrived. This brought peace to my life and took away the pressure I was feeling being surrounded by people I felt I was not being truthful with. While overseas I became very good friends with another ex-pat who had been openly gay since he was sixteen. He became my confidante and we had long hard talks about my sexuality. It was during this time that I came to the conclusion that I am gay – not bi-sexual. My friend taught me to be comfortable with myself. Even things most gay men might take for granted nowadays – like going into gay bars – became easier. (I had always been terrified about even entering one as my suspicions of my sexuality grew, worried I might have friends who would see me there and blind to the fact that if that happened it probably meant such friends were gay also.) On my trips home from overseas, I discovered Toronto’s Gay Village. I always knew it was there but never visited. What an eye-opener: the bars, the restaurants, the coffee houses – and just about everyone in them gay or at least gay-friendly. A friend I made even took me to a bathhouse – another terrifying but exciting experience. I was terrified about HIV and STDs, but it was exciting still for obvious reasons. All those men there, looking for the same thing.

Back overseas and even when visiting home I started to explore further by using the Internet to start meeting men and making friends. It’s a great place to achieve this, but it’s also a confusing place, too. I find a lot of men are not as serious as you would think they’d be. A lot of guys like to play games, and I think they need to gain a little maturity. I can’t yet figure out why gay men have to play the kinds of games I’ve seen and experienced. For example, if you agree to meet someone, then meet them. If it doesn’t work out there’s really nothing lost, and if it does, there could be lots to gain: love, friendships, etc. After all, we all need friends. I know I do, especially now.

The learning curve continues for me. The attitude about age in this community is astounding. I’ve been turned down because I’m middle-aged, and I’ve been turned down because I’m old. Perspective is everything. On the other hand, I’m also surprised at the number of younger guys who like men my age. To me age is a number. Nothing else.

I find the gay community to be extremely supportive and accepting of who I am and where I am at, and also have developed a strong level of trust that I will not be outed further to anyone until I decide I’m ready.

I have come out to myself, and to some friends. This is a slow and difficult process. I have yet to come out to my wife, my children, my family and the people I work with. It would be easy to judge me and say I’m being unfair or worse, but this is something I have to do at my own pace. It has been an overwhelming experience and I need to let things unfold when the time is right for me.

In the meantime, my marriage, which has not been healthy for years, is at times barely tolerable. My wife has found pieces of information here and there that have made her suspicious, but suspicious of me having heterosexual affairs, not of exploring a new-found sexuality. As for my children, I raised them not to be bigots, racists, or homophobes. I often wonder what they would think if they found out about my being gay, but am not ready to find out. I’m sure at first they would be shocked, certainly surprised, but I don’t think they would be hurt. They know I love them deeply and I will always be their father. Also, over the years I’ve heard them make very positive comments about gays. I know that if they found out they would still love me. But one step at a time.

For now I am very comfortable with my dual lifestyle. I can balance the two lifestyles, although it is difficult at times. I know I would hurt my wife needlessly if I told her the truth. I am gay but I also know I have to live in a straight world. At this point in my life I feel there is no need to come out any further.

Meanwhile, I’ve reached a level of inner peace that I’ve never had before.


One Comment

  1. Patrick

    March 22, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Lovely. Thank you for posting that. My life parallels yours in so many ways. Also 57,, not out to anyone but myself, and some folk in the LGBT community (under a nom de plume). I have 2 teenage boys, and an unaffectionate, indifferent wife. I’m almost ready to break cover. But going to get some more time with other gay people first. Difficult to get away, of course.

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