I write a lot of fun posts on this site because I love to have fun, but there are times when I’m serious, because living is serious business and life is a crap shoot. I have a lot of gay friendsÂ and theyÂ talk at times about the challenges they faceÂ every day (over and above the usual everyday issues we all deal with), andÂ this is one of the reasons why, in addition to reviewing M/M romances and gay fiction, I occasionallyÂ discuss on the siteÂ a few of theÂ issues faced by gay men. I think it’s importantÂ for straight people to remember that behind the fictional, fantasyÂ world of M/M romance,Â gay men live in the real worldÂ which is not a fairytale (no pun intended).
Deciding to come out is pivotal to how a gay man lives the rest of his lifeÂ and this is usually the first step of a life lived out in the open, soÂ I wanted toÂ put a face to a fewÂ gay menÂ in respectÂ to the one important decision they made that affected their lives, either positively or negatively.
Gay men in our societyÂ have toÂ decide at some point whether or not to come out of the closet.Â Some do it as teenagers and others much later in life. I wondered what circumstances would motivate that decision. Why did they choose to come out? How tough was it? Were their friends and families supportive? Have their employment opportunities diminished or disappeared since they came out? Now that they are out, do they sometimes wish they could go back into the closet and close the door, or put the genii back in the bottle, because the world is a cold, unfeeling place? Of course no two experiences are alike andÂ it’s important to remember that, as they say in the ads, “individual results may vary.” For some it was an easy transition, but for others it was quite traumatic.
While some gay men have come out of the closet, many of them live their lives “on the down low” because they fear that the negative consequences could affect every aspect of their lives – their jobs, friends, family, community, social life, church etc. ActivitiesÂ that straight people take for granted, something as simpleÂ as walkingÂ down the street holding hands, are not available to many of them. Some gay men are unhappily married to women and their wives don’t know about their sexual orientation. It must beÂ very difficult and emotionally devastating not to live your life with integrity in this situation. In some countries, even today, they could land in jail or worseÂ if their sexual orientationÂ were known,Â and in ethnic communitiesÂ the majority of gay men never come out because those they valueÂ would reject them, so they live a lie all their lives. Many gay men live in fearÂ for their lives all around the world, including North America where hate crimes are on the upswing. Gay celebrities have hidden their sexual orientation for decades – Rock Hudson is a prime example and he paid the ultimate price. More recently CNN’s Anderson Cooper was reported to be gay (this has not been substantiated), Ricky Martin and Clay Aiken only recently came out (guess we didn’t know they were gay) :), and rumours have swirled around Tom Cruise, Mr Rogers and Jake Gyllenhaal for years (again unsubstantiated). If it’s that difficult for celebrities with all their support systems to come out if they are indeed gay, how muchÂ tougher is it forÂ the ordinary gay man whoÂ may end upÂ living the rest ofÂ his life alone because family and friends have rejected him, and romance is not even on the horizon?
M/M romances are inundatedÂ with stories/fantasies about gay men coming out of the closet. Since readers and writers of the genre are mostly straight women we can only imagine what this is really like. For gay men, being gay is only a part of who they are and theyÂ sometimes feel that M/M romancesÂ emphasize one aspect of their lives almost to the exclusion of everything else – their sexuality.Â They are just as three dimensional as you and I, and while being sexually active mayÂ at times driveÂ someÂ of what they do, they are like everyone else in the way they live their lives on a daily basis,Â with oneÂ major difference –Â they are aÂ ‘minority’.Â They have children,Â parents, siblingsÂ and friendsÂ but they have to make a living while coping with the slings and arrows thrown at them by bigots. I’m sure that at times sex is the very last thing on their minds, yet that’s the first thing mentioned when books are written about them, and they are too oftenÂ portrayed or perceived asÂ one dimensional sex machines by the straight world.
To give you a glimpse of their lives and personal experiences I asked a fewÂ gay men to talk about “coming out” or choosing to remain in the closet. Those who have come out have varying experiences which you will read about. For those who are still in the closet, how hasÂ this affected them emotionally and how difficult is it to find someone to love? John talks about what that is like. Because of the length of this post (5000 words – yes that’s right, 5K) I am enclosingÂ theÂ individual historiesÂ as a PDF file. I hope that these storiesÂ will give you a greater understandingÂ of what it really takes for a gay man to either “come out” or remain in the closet.
I would like to thank Rick R.Â Reed, John, Ethan Day (who had toÂ giveÂ his piece his signature take), Christian Otto, Sean Kennedy, Batboy 126 and Ozakie Knotts for taking the time to tell their stories.Â Guys, this is my homage to you. You rock !! (and that includes you, too, Ethan) 🙂