Here is the continuation of my Coming Out meme:
Ever been to a pride rally? Yes. I carried a banner on the march on Washington when the AIDS quilt was first displayed. I have been to all of them in Dallas since 2000. One year I got a little tipsy and took an accidental nap in Lee Park. LOL
Do you go to gay bars? Not usually. I'll only go to meet up with friends or if I really want to two-step at the Round Up Saloon.
How old were you when you first told someone you were gay? 21 years old. I came out to some close friends at work.
Did you plan it? If so, how? No, the subject came up and some asked me directly so I replied honestly.
What made you choose that person to tell? The friends were kind of putting me on the spot and I felt it would be better to just be honest. I was also very tired of lying all the time.
How did you feel? Relieved that it really didn't matter to them.
Have you ever been snubbed by someone after coming out to them? No, not in my adult life.
Have you come out to your family? Yes. Here's the story: I was living in Oklahoma City with my partner Ken. He came with me to Utah to my youngest sister's wedding but as my 'roommate'. While we were there he got pneumonia. Ken had AIDS and had been involved in a new drug trial at the City of Faith Hospital in Tulsa (yes, at Oral Robert’s University). When we went for his next treatment after we returned from Utah they saw how sick he was and immediately put him in the hospital. One morning after I had been awake with him all night mom called to see how he was. I was so tired that I let it slip that the doctors didn’t give him much of a chance to live. She said; “From pneumonia?” I said that with the AIDS and everything else... Then realized what I said. After a pause that felt like an eternity she asked if he got it from a blood transfusion; I told her no. (another long pause). She asked if he was gay: I told her yes. (another long pause). Then she asked if I was gay and did I have it; “Yes I am and no I am negative”. After an even longer pause all I heard was sobbing.
Why did you come out at that point? It was accidental. But I was tired of the lies. I also had my partner to take care of, I know it was a shock to my family, but it was better that everyone knew.
Are you out at work? Yes and no. Yes to those that know me well. No to those that don't need to know. I figure it's on a "need to know" basis.
If you’ve been outed unwillingly, who did it? When I first started working at [Major Bank] in 1996 I became good friends with Norma. I was still trying to be straight in 1996 and then came back out in 2000. Afterwards she would frequently tell people; "Oh, I've worked with Jim before he knew he was gay." I really didn't like it announced in that way, but no one cared anyway, so... whatever...! LOL
What does being out mean to you? Being honest with yourself and with others who really need to know. It's also acceptance of who you are and not be ashamed of it. There still are some gay men and women out there who are still ashamed about being gay and that just seems sad.
If you could do it all again, would you do it any differently? If so, how? I would have been more open and honest earlier. I would have stood up to the bullies who tormented me. I would have shown my family that being gay isn't evil or bad. But I have to be honest, it was different back then. It happened they way it did... I accept and embrace it. It made me who I am today.