My story, on Metafilter April 13, 2008 9:50 PM   Subscribe

I posted this thread on coming out of the closet several months ago and I've updated it a couple of times since. I left a final update at the end of the thread for those who might be interested.

Many, many users emailed and MeFi mailed me to offer advice and words of encouragement. Thanks.

I'm often curious to know what happens after users post questions about how to deal with sticky situations. Do they take the advice offered in the thread? Well, here's your chance to see the entire arc of one little MeFite's story.
posted by GardnerDB to MetaFilter-Related at 9:50 PM (57 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Wow! Thanks for the update! (And for your whole share, actually.)
posted by small_ruminant at 10:16 PM on April 13, 2008

Yes, thanks for sharing. You ate the sandwich, and you're a brave man for doing it. I'm sorry that it didn't turn out better, but it sounds like it could have been much, much worse, and time... well, sometimes time helps. Most importantly, though, congratulations!
posted by mumkin at 10:28 PM on April 13, 2008

Thanks for closing the story! That sounds like one of the hardest possible tasks someone would have to do in life. You did it, and it's great to hear about how you did it.
posted by ignignokt at 10:31 PM on April 13, 2008

Thanks for the updates.
posted by null terminated at 10:34 PM on April 13, 2008

Wow. Just... wow. Thanks for that.

It brought shivers to me as I read your update. It's good that your parents were able to accept who you are and love you, especially your dad considering what he does for a living. Obviously there's still some acceptance issues there but by and large it sounds like a good outcome for you and your family.

This gives me hope that if your parents, both conservative christians, can accept you and your orientation that perhaps one day, given time, the world can too. The quicker people realise that a homosexual relationship isn't neccessarily just about the sex but can be about love, the most natural of all human emotions, the quicker we can start pulling together as a species and take the next step in our evolution.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:56 PM on April 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

You know, time and reality have a funny way of changing people's minds. Obviously you can be content as is, and it's nice to hear the happy ending.... but fair warning, things might just get better someday. :)
posted by Malor at 11:09 PM on April 13, 2008

Coming out to your folks is never easy. My mom still thinks that God The Father is going to throw me into eternal torment for having the feelings that I do. Although one day I asked her if she would personally send me to hell for being who I am, to which she replied, "Of course not. A loving parent would never harm her child like that."

You could almost see the cognitive dissonance dawning across her face the moment those words left her mouth. It was as if I called God's bluff, and caught both Him and my mom flatfooted. She quickly changed the subject, but hopefully the seed of thought that I planted is still in there, somewhere.

Take care of yourself.
posted by Avenger at 11:32 PM on April 13, 2008 [41 favorites]

Wow, I hadn't read the original AskMe thread. I don't know whether congratulations is appropriate, but clearly you've taken a gigantic step in life, and it seems to be paying off (if a little slowly).

I have so much respect for people who tackle this enormous, life-changing albeit voluntary hurdle in life. I can't think of any real equivalent for straight people.

Your circumstances in particular, given your father's profession as a minister, must have just added a whole other dimension to the matter. Your parents are obviously asking themselves some hard questions about life, especially given your sister has made them confront this issue before. I only hope they can grow to accept their children as they are.

Avenger, great story.
posted by cosmonik at 12:02 AM on April 14, 2008

Thanks for the update and the pointer to the thread. When my oldest brother came out to my mother, she didn't even bat an eye, which I wish every gay child's parent's reaction was.
posted by maxwelton at 1:00 AM on April 14, 2008

Can we change the [more inside] link to [more outside] on this one in tribute?
posted by loquacious at 1:04 AM on April 14, 2008 [7 favorites]

Utterly awesome. Well done.
posted by Jofus at 1:09 AM on April 14, 2008

Thanks for the update.

Also, I found this gesture really rather moving:

As part of this whole process of saying goodbye to my former angst-ridden, secretive self, I'm going to discontinue my use of this username.
Goodbye, GardnerDB, and hello me.

So, welcome HotPatatta!
posted by jack_mo at 3:23 AM on April 14, 2008

I know it doesn't mean jack from a stranger, but I'm really proud of you.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:41 AM on April 14, 2008

You handled the tough part with dignity and it only gets better from here.
Welcome HotPatatta!
posted by munchingzombie at 5:35 AM on April 14, 2008

Aww, the story of how GardnerDB became a HotPatatta. Congrats!
posted by fermezporte at 5:48 AM on April 14, 2008

Well done Sir. Your father sounds like a good man, much like his son. Keep the love!
posted by brautigan at 6:36 AM on April 14, 2008

Thanks very much for this update. I've had a close relative come out to me and others in the family and seen how difficult it was to make that decision (fortunately, it went well all around). Best of luck to you, and welcome to your shiny new username!
posted by languagehat at 6:39 AM on April 14, 2008

He is a good man and this has been a test of character for us all. Now I have to forgive my mom for calling my dad when she promised me she'd stay out of it. She swore she wouldn't do that to my sister, as well, but that didn't stop her. I'm glad she didn't keep her word this time because it worked out so well. I was starting to get to the point where I was indefinitely putting off talking to my dad about it and my fear was getting the best of me. Guess I'll give her a pass on this one.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:42 AM on April 14, 2008

Thanks for the update. What is really striking in the thread is your dignity and steadiness in a very trying situation.

As to your mom, it is never a good idea to ask someone to keep a secret from his or her spouse. Of course she could not do it. Good luck--though the worst seems to be over for you.
posted by LarryC at 6:47 AM on April 14, 2008

Congratulations! But a word of caution--coming out is not over. I'm a 62-year-old dyke and still have to come out to the people I meet.

Understanding the turmoil your parents are going through might be made easier by your reading "On Death and Dying," by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Finding out that (another) child of theirs is gay had to be a shock. In a way, you died--you whose life they had envisioned as being like theirs: heterosexual, married, parent, etc. They probably are going through some or all of the stages that Kubler-Ross identified: Denial; Anger; Bargaining; Depression; Acceptance. Be patient.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:59 AM on April 14, 2008

Garsh, thanks for your nice words, everyone. I didn't start this thread to fish for praise (honest!), though it's kinda nice to receive. Just thought it was a great example of Metafilter at its best.

Thanks, LarryC. And they've been divorced for 22 years. They don't get along and hadn't spoken in years. Divorce, according to them, is forgivable and not burning-in-Hell-worthy. How convenient for them.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:04 AM on April 14, 2008

I don't know whether congratulations is appropriate,

Coming out (by choice, as opposed to being outed) always warrants congratulations.

Well done, HP. I propose a gaymefimeetup for Toronto Pride.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:06 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

mumkin: "I'm sorry that it didn't turn out better"

Effigy2000: "Obviously there's still some acceptance issues there"

You know what? Screw that. This is a 100% complete victory. HotPatatta's parents accepted his choice and said they love him and want him to be happy despite the fact that they disagree with homosexuality. Adults are allowed to disagree, and even to be sad about their children's lifestyles. There aren't acceptance issues, they accept him. There's nothing to be sorry about the outcome, they unconditionally love him.

You are blessed, HP, to have such understanding parents. Congratulations.
posted by Plutor at 7:49 AM on April 14, 2008

I congratulate you for owning who you really are. There are too many closets, of all sorts, in this world. Have a hug, if you're into hugging straight women, HotPatatta!
posted by lleachie at 8:14 AM on April 14, 2008

posted by klangklangston at 8:22 AM on April 14, 2008

Yay! Thank you so much for the update, and for the heads-up about the update. Your question was near-and-dear to me, as it probably was for any queer person, or anyone who has to come out about scary personal stuff.

My parents divorced when I was three, and I lived with my mom. It was hard coming out to her, and I really didn't know what to do about my dad. We weren't very close, so it wasn't really an issue of being afraid that he'd cut me off or anything - I just didn't know what to say in our four-times-a-year phone conversations.

Then my mom accidentally came out for me. My mom and dad, once they'd been divorced for 25 years, actually developed a pretty okay relationship, and in a phone conversation my mom said something about "rtha and her girlfriend...blahblahblah". I saw my dad a couple of months later, knowing that my mom had told him (but I hadn't talked to him about it at that point), and when I saw him, he hugged me tightly and said, "Love each other, babe, be good to each other." Made me cry, yeah.

So parents can surprise you, just like you can surprise them. All things considered, from what you told us about your family, things are going remarkably well, and I'm really happy for you, and proud of you too, and happy that your askme questioned spawned such helpful info and an interesting discussion.

posted by rtha at 8:41 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

posted by miss tea at 8:44 AM on April 14, 2008

Cool, way to go! I don't often hear coming-out stories in similar circumstances that end up like yours, and it's encouraging to hear. I hope things continue to go well in everything.
posted by lilac girl at 8:45 AM on April 14, 2008

Congratulations and thanks for the update. Glad you are doing OK. I have always loved your HotPatatta username - had no idea where it came from.

I often wonder "what ever happened to" Ask questions like this; it's good to know how this turned out.
posted by pointystick at 8:50 AM on April 14, 2008

Kudos to you and congratulations! That took courage and strength - good luck in all that you do from here forward.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:59 AM on April 14, 2008

Congrats, HotPatatta! I give you a big *mwah!* for your courage and dignity and all-around good-egg-ness.
posted by scody at 9:02 AM on April 14, 2008

Avenger : It was as if I called God's bluff,

I called God's bluff once. She was not amused and rather than go in her litterbox, she pooped in my shoe.

On the whole, I don't recommend it.

Thanks for continuing to update as the events unfolded, GardnerDB HotPatatta, I like it when people realize that their audience might enjoy and appreciate some resolution.
posted by quin at 9:03 AM on April 14, 2008

Hey, don't beat yourself up for waiting until you're 26. It happens when people feel like they're ready and sometimes that's 15, sometimes 26, sometimes 62. I think it's awesome at any age.

Also, just reinforcing the point that people can change. I had a friend who came out to her parents when she was 15 and her parents literally called her epithets to her face. 15 years later they love and embrace her and her partner. Can happen. Good luck.
posted by sneakin at 9:04 AM on April 14, 2008

Thanks a lot for taking the time to update. It sounds like it actually went quite well.
posted by fire&wings at 9:07 AM on April 14, 2008

YEAH!!! So glad that you are feeling better in your own skin with your family. I'm proud of you too!! GO buy yourself something fancy to celebrate!!
posted by pearlybob at 9:29 AM on April 14, 2008

What an excellent update. Congratulations!
posted by sarcasticah at 9:29 AM on April 14, 2008

Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus -- I remember reading that thread, and I'm glad to see its resolution.
posted by danb at 10:01 AM on April 14, 2008

You've dealt with every aspect of this process with dignity and grace and it's a beautiful thing to see. Thanks for letting us share in your happiness.
posted by melissa may at 10:17 AM on April 14, 2008

this is what it means to be a community site. thank you for sharing this part of your life with us, and congratulations.
posted by fishfucker at 11:40 AM on April 14, 2008


and, please to share bonbons?
posted by spinturtle at 11:43 AM on April 14, 2008

Nice work HP. It sounds like it turned out great, seeing as how I have yet to meet any conservative Christian who held back the notion that I would be in hell because I wasn't saved (I'm Jewish, sort of). I don't mean that in a snarky way, it's just something that time and again seems to be an inviolable tenet of the faith. So the fact that your Dad said he wanted to remain in your life sounds like a hell of a good start.
posted by docpops at 11:58 AM on April 14, 2008

Docpops, Check your memail. :-)
posted by pearlybob at 12:56 PM on April 14, 2008

posted by wyzewoman at 12:59 PM on April 14, 2008

Watch your mail for the toaster oven!

Seriously, congrats for taking such a brave step in your life!
posted by deborah at 1:30 PM on April 14, 2008

Hey, good on you. Deep breath now.

Thanks for the update. I think it's important for people to know that, hey, it works out. Coming out is so scary. The possibility that, after a lifetime of acceptance, your family will no longer accept you? It's terrifying.

I didn't have the luxury (or the burden) of choosing to come out to my family; they asked me. I sure as hell wasn't ready or prepared (19! in college! financially dependent!), but it worked out okay in the end.

The girl I was seeing at the time, though? She was moving from TX to SF at the end of the summer to attend law school. Her mother flipped when she came out to her (about a week after my parents dragged me out). After a few weeks of it sinking in, her mother 'forbade' her to go to SF, because if she did, something bad was certainly going to happen to her. It was the wrong place for her to get cured, you know, because there were too many gays/lesbians there. The girl basically said, "Uh, I'm an adult, I'm going." And so her mother? She announced that she was going to take out a life insurance policy on her daughter, because she didn't have enough money otherwise to fly the body home.

That's been 15 years now, and I assume they've worked things out. It's the short-term reactions that that we have to actually deal with. The long-term stuff, it becomes calmer water.

So anyway. Sorry for the long anecdote. Congrats on being able to live your life and be yourself.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:49 PM on April 14, 2008

Hey, thanks for the update, HotPatatta! And congratulations.

I remember that thread and was wondering what happened... I don't know why I didn't comment there, I'm sure I meant to, though, because several elements of your situation were present in mine: Southern Baptist family (my dad was a deacon), divorced parents, etc.

My coming out anecdote: When I came out to my mom (a few years after the divorce), the first thing she said to me was, "You know, I always thought you're father might be!" Hello, mom? This isn't a bomb-shell dropping contest, you know! (Anyway, he's not.)

Anyway, thanks again for the update. All the best to you in the future.
posted by trip and a half at 2:49 PM on April 14, 2008

you're = "your". ugh.
posted by trip and a half at 2:50 PM on April 14, 2008

Congratulations, HotPatatta! Although right now it must be painful and frustrating to have such stubbornly misinformed parents, their reactions show how much they love you, and over time they may come around without even realizing it. Your mom's comments remind me of an exchange with my own (liberal, reasonably well-educated) mother during my senior year of high school. I mentioned to her that while palling around at some school function, I goaded a freshman boy into trying on some of my sparkly pink lipgloss. She replied, with genuine horror, "[Granted]! If he used your lipgloss, it means he's probably gay, and if he's gay, he might have AIDS! Do you know how dangerous it is to share your cosmetics with him?" She was so impervious to any sort of rational argument that even God Almighty gaped, headdesked, and went for a beer. Nevertheless, seven years later, she is so embarrassed by that statement that she forbids I bring it up. Hopefully, your mom will someday feel similarly about her old beliefs.
posted by granted at 3:43 PM on April 14, 2008

that's pretty awesome right there.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:03 PM on April 14, 2008

Well done, HotPattata. Thanks for the update.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:04 PM on April 14, 2008

Proudaya, mate.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:43 PM on April 14, 2008

Anyhow. I've never heard that there's any special time to come out, unless you're making a "statement" a la National Coming Out Day.

I'd never heard of NCOD. Someone with bucks to burn needs to pull a national advertising campaign for it, and parades ought to be had on that day. Many parents would live in fear of that day, but it'd sure ease the surprise. "You want have us over for dinner on the Xth? Ooookay. You're not gonna tell us you're gay, are you?" "Yes, Mom, I will be. Roast chicken okay with you?"

She kept saying that two gay children is too much of a burden for her to carry.

HotPattata, your mom is a drama queen. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 6:37 PM on April 14, 2008

@five fresh: Maybe she's upset because she wants to be the only queen in the family. Perhaps she'll calm down if I promise not to usurp her throne.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:44 PM on April 14, 2008

Please don't use the @ convention. It's not well-received in these parts.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:07 PM on April 14, 2008

Sorry - sent props in other thread to old name.

Good for you, HP! Right on!

I wish my AskMe had worked out as well, but then again it was pretty trivial.
posted by Nabubrush at 9:12 PM on April 14, 2008

Hi HotPatatta! Congratulations!

Oh lordy, I can already tell those t's are going to be a problem for me.
posted by bettafish at 12:29 PM on April 15, 2008

coming out is not over

Amen. You might look into Kenji Yoshino's Covering.
posted by owhydididoit at 7:33 PM on April 16, 2008

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