Sunday, August 09, 2015

When Reality Beats Fear...

Its been an interesting couple of weeks.   First the Boy Scouts of America ended it's ban of LGBT adults volunteering in the program.   It is far too soon to say exactly what this means for Scouting organizationally in the long term.   But for me,  it means I can once again give of my time, and talents to an movement that played a crucial role in making me the person I am today.  

I left Scouting after "coming out".  At the time I  believed that I would never be able to go back.  Not just because of the membership Policies at the time, but I just assumed that for many of my friends in Scouting,  this one truth about me would be a bridge too far, and they would most likely find ways to slip quickly and quietly out of my life.

For the record..  It turns out, I'm an idiot.  

I am blessed with friends who are much smarter than I am.  Who either already knew/guessed why I had left  and never stayed in touch and were quietly waiting for me to get a clue.   Or when they did find out, rightly called me a complete and utter doofus  for thinking it would ever affect our friendship.  That isn't to say there weren't some people  for whom whom it did.   There are friends I have lost.   Some I will confess,  were not a surprise, but some very much were.   Yet  at end of the day,  the loss serves as remainder that the choice to live honestly doesn't come without risk, or cost,  and reminds me to cherish what I have gained, all the more.

Coming out stories tend to fall into what now seems, a number  clichéd categories.  Either they tend to have  enough tragedy and eventual  triumph to fill an ABC afterschool special from the mid 1980's, or are dark stories of fear and bigotry .  The internet is full of horror stories of young people who are rejected by their families when they come out.   Stories of lives cut short,  either swallowed up  by the darkness of trying to live a live half in half out of  the closet.  Or brutally ended by the fear, hatred and bigotry of friends and family,  the very people  who should be their greatest advocates and protectors.
1997 in South Korea

By comparison , my own journey out of the closet was remarkably anti-climatic. After a childhood, adolescence and young adulthood of living every day gripped with fear that coming out would destroy my life; I just pretty much got over it.    Okay... I'll admit,  it wasn't THAT simple...

It would be a journey that would lead me to move to the other side of the world in hopes that putting a crazy amount of distance between me and my "old life" (i.e. all the friends and family I had known and had up to that point), would give me the space I needed to come to terms with who I was, and what I really wanted in life.

In truth, it did help. My time living and working in Asia was a turning point in my road to self acceptance. Its where I would finally look in the mirror and say those two terrifying words: "I'm Gay" without expecting the sky itself to come crashing down on my head, Its where I would fall in love, and get my heart broken, and healed for the first time. (by the way JDM, If I never told you , thank you...)

Yet after returning to the U.S.,  in terms of having the all dramatic "coming out moment" with my parents,  they kinda beat me to it.  They had figured things out long before I was ready to talk to them about it.  And as they have done all through my life,  they did what they do best;  They patiently,  (ok... very patiently)waited for me to be ok ... with me,   All the while making it clear  that they already were.

I am ridiculously lucky in that My Parents are the two most remarkable people I have ever known.  They have mastered the three key arts of parenting;  They love unconditionally,  they teach and mentor constantly ,  and yes,  when called for, they criticize strategically.   Their love and encouragement  for Eric and I on our journey from insane long distance relationship,  to our life together as a married couple was a key support structure for both us. 

Then today,  my blackberry,  (yes I still use a blackberry,  you  iPhone/android hippies got a problem with that??), buzzed  notifying me that I had an email from my dad.  I assumed  it was just to set a time for our weekly Skype video call we usually have on Sunday nights.  

Instead, what was in the mail was this picture, from Madison Wisconsin's LGBT Pride Celebration.    A celebration that I have never been to, and as kid growing up there,  I never thought I could ever attend.   Leave it to my parents to once again,  beat me to it,  and get there before me.  

My parents have always gone out of their way to let me know they are proud me.   Today its high time I made up for lost time and did the same.  Thank You Mom and  Dad.  I  love you both so much and  being your son,  is the greatest gift and blessing I could have ever hoped for.

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