Monday, March 21, 2011

A time to process...


Still not sure how to blog about what's going on... still need more time to process.

But, a quick update...

Son has come home and I've "outed" myself to him. It went fairly well, but because he doesn't have a problem with it and he "already knew" makes it fall short from the discussion of "the issues" that I wanted to result from coming out. There may be more to come, but it seemed so anti-climatic that why do I feel disappointed?

Daughter isn't taking it as well. I've learned that daughter has felt great pain and confusion over the reality that Dad is gay... to the point of distancing herself from me and even feeling like life is such a big lie and joke... there still is a lot to still discuss, but the time and right situation are very hard to create. Why is it so easy for one and so hard for the other?

Despite the upheaval, my wife and I are doing well. Dancing in the kitchen has become a daily ritual of joy! She stands beside me and is beyond supportive of the "good man" that I am, trying hard to teach said son and daughter that attractions just are, and no one should judge anyone for having such attractions. In my mind, that is huge!

Some good developments... still a lot of wrinkles to iron out... no quick or easy answers.

27 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

All in all, this sounds pretty hopeful. Congratulations!

Miguel said...

Beck! Glad to see you come up for air! Baby steps, baby steps. I think children's biggest fear is what does a revelation mean to them as far as the family structure and what does that mean to their reality past, present and future. Give everyone time. Your son knew, really? Just how did he know? Does that even surprise you? Does that make you wonder who else actually knows? :-)
Hugs,Miguel

"Lucky Jake" said...

Glad to hear things are hopeful. Take care.

Abelard Enigma said...

Wow - I mean WOW! I'm proud of you - I wish I had the courage to come out to my children. What precipitated this? How did you do it? Inquiring minds want to know ...

J G-W said...

Beck, I'm glad to hear about this. This sounds fantastic... Son supportive, wife supportive. Daughter freaking out a little, but surrounded by folks who will model calm, loving ways to adjust to the new information.

Congratulations!

Beck said...

MOHOH: Somehow I knew you'd be the first to comment. You are my champion and have given me confidence where once there was none. It's not as scary as I thought and I may eventually ask why it took so long, but that's hind-sight speaking. In reality, it happens when circumstances dictate.

And so, yes, I'm hopeful. And I do have hope that my daughter will come to understand that I'm still Dad and nothing has changed (but maybe just her understanding of the issue).

That said, I fear two things:

1. The over-sensitivity on my part of any "pulling back" from me as their father for whatever reason.

2. The concern that with more people knowing within my immediate family, how long before others know as I lose "control" of my story in my time frame.

Any advice, or no worries?

Beck said...

MIGUEL: Yes, I'm taking baby steps and maybe they seem painfully slow to some out there, but they feel huge from my point of view.

My son had pieced it together from the time I came out to my wife, that triggered other observations of "okay now I get it" moments.

Whether anyone else is surprised, I don't know. It does make me wonder. My daughter was definitely surprised and has been devastated. We're speaking, but we have more communication to go until there is a comfort level that doesn't lead to her feeling betrayed or "pull back" from me.

Beck said...

LJ: Thanks for commenting. I appreciate it.

ABE: Well, I'm not sure I'm ready to tell the details. This blog has never been about my kids. Entering this phase has brought thoughts of "what am I doing here?"
in broadcasting their reactions and their privacy.

Let's just say that my son added it all up and it just made sense to him. He's okay because he sees that my wife and I are okay - no, better than that - we are doing really well together, and so he feels that if we are happy together and have worked through it to the point where he can see that we are better now than before I came out to her, then he's fine with it and doesn't need to know anything more.

My daughter put it together much more slowly and just recently. She talked with my son about it and wondered what he thought, and that is what triggered the whole "coming out" situation.

I guess you can only keep some family secrets secret for so long.

As for my other two daughters, they don't have a clue. One doesn't live at home, and the other is too young to even understand... so more to come.

The key here with my son is that he notices our marriage stronger now than before, and this brings him hope and makes me feel like the whole thing is a "non-issue". That surprises me. I thought, as a son, he would have a more negative response to the issue, and yet, there is nothing. And it bothers me! No repulsion? No disgust? No confusion? I don't get it!

Beck said...

JGW: Wife is supportive, yes. Son is indifferent. I wouldn't say he's supportive as much as he doesn't feel it's any of his business and he's not going to judge me and he accepts it and all - but he's not "excited" about the news or wanting to join any support group for gay dads.

Yeah, it will take longer for my daughter. She's struggling with the idea that am I "worthy" to hold the calling I do, and all that goes with that confusion in her brain as she tries to finally sort out what it means for her dad to be attracted to guys.

She's smart and will get there, but "supportive"? That will take time, but the more she sees my wife is okay with it, the more quickly I think she'll come to terms of acceptance on her own... At least that is my hope.

Thanks John for your friendship and encouragement and "support".

Clive Durham said...

Beck, props on doing a difficult thing. I believe based on my own experience and that of several friends that the fear of coming out to children is much worse than the reality. Over the past year, each of my children has had his or her own timeline for arriving at understanding. The good thing is that in the end our love has been strengthened by honesty and openness. One other quick piece of advice--now that the lid is off the kettle, it's probably a good idea to include all those whose love you value in the circle of knowledge. That way you continue to control the message. It reduces the risk of false stories about you and your character.

For example, a friend told me that one of my casual acquaintances told him I was gay, divorcing my wife and moving in with my lover. Because I had told my friend, he was able to let the guy know quickly and with certainty that while I was gay and divorcing, I had always been faithful to my wife. His comments and support were comforting and greatly appreciated.

God bless you, friend.

MoHoHawaii said...

Any advice, or no worries?

No advice, but an observation. It's nice to see that you are experiencing some dividends in terms of contentment in your marriage after all of the hard work and angst of coming out to your wife. Coming out to your kids has been a great opportunity for you and her to show solidarity on this issue.

If you were outed to your ward, it would probably cause you trouble. I wish it were not like this, but that's the reality today in LDS wards. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

Beck said...

CD: I believe that each of us does have our own timetable. Just look at me... It took me 25 years of adulthood to accept this myself. It took me six months after that to admit it to my wife. It has taken another 5 years to get to this point... so yes, it does take time and I plan on being patient with my daughter.

She is mainly worried about her mom, and as long as my wife and I are good, I think she's going to be fine in the end.

As for the ward, and the lid being blown off, that is now a new concern of mine. Once it is "officially" out beyond just me and my wife, who knows where it will go...

* heavy sigh *

MOHOH: Thanks for seeing the thread that holds this together for me... that I've been able to work with my wife, not always as open and communicative as I'd like, but still in solidarity with each other to make this work... I think that will bode well not only for the kids but for the inevitable lid-blowing experience of the ward in some near future date.

Panicking a bit, but still okay. Thanks for being there for me and understanding my position.

J G-W said...

Not trying to be a contrarian here, but I disagree that coming out in your ward would be some kind of catastrophe.

Mohohawaii, I think there's been a sea change in LDS wards since you've been anywhere near an LDS Church. I am hearing ward coming-out story after ward coming-out story where individuals are finding complete, total love and support.

Beck, I suspect that if you came out publicly at your next fast and testimony meeting, and told something of your struggles, you would find such an out-pouring of love coming from members of the ward that you would be kicking yourself for not having come out much sooner. (DON'T do that obviously though without counseling with your family first!)

All the rhetoric of Church leaders in recent years has been geared toward enhancing support for people precisely in your situation. You've been true to your marriage, you've kept all your covenants... If your ward doesn't embrace you, they will not embrace anyone.

Scott N said...

I'm with John in that coming out to your ward would not be a catastrophe. But I'm not convinced that it would be the positive event he describes, either.

John, while it's true that MoHoHawaii hasn't been involved with an LDS ward for a long time, it's also true (as far as I know) that you haven't been intimately involved with a Utah LDS ward for a while.

One thing I've gathered from my own experience and the experiences others have shared is that geography makes a huge difference in the "liberalness" (for lack of a better word) of an LDS congregation. Wards "in the mission field" are almost universally more accepting and tolerant of heterodoxy, while wards "in Zion" tend to be more rigid and exclusionary.

It's entirely possible that the two years since I came out to my own ward will have made a difference, and that even Utah wards will be more accepting today than they were back then. But I still suspect there would be noticeable negative reactions should Beck come out to his ward (whether by choice or by circumstances outside his control).

Of course he would also experience the "outpouring of love" that you describe--I saw a bit of that myself. And as I said, I don't think the result would even come close to qualifying as "catastrophe". But it would involve changes in the dynamics of Beck's relationships with his neighbors and fellow members--some positive and some neutral, but also some negative.

A few other thoughts that have come to mind as I've read the post and other comments...

You indicate that one of your daughters is "too young to understand"... I don't remember how old your youngest is, but our five year old knows that dad is gay, and that "gay" means "wants a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend". Of course he doesn't understand the nuances or the ins and outs of physical attraction and intimacy--those will come with time--but he understands enough. I don't personally believe that there is such a thing as "too young", and from what I've observed younger children are much less likely to have "baggage" that will make it hard for them to accept a gay parent.

You say you're bothered by your son's casual acceptance of the whole situation... Perhaps this suggests that you still feel some sort of guilt and/or shame about being gay? Or some residual internalized homophobia? So you expect others to react negatively?

I like Clive's suggestion that you be the one to expand the "circle of knowledge". News like this has a way of getting out (you alluded to a concern along those lines in a comment), and it will be better if it comes from you than through the grapevine.

I hope you know how much I love you and respect you for your commitment to your wife. I'm glad to see what appears to be an increase in trust and solidarity as you face this new situation together. [[HUG]]

Anonymous said...

Beck,

My experience with coming out to my kids is that each one handled the "news" in the same way they handle any other major issue in their life.

My daughter had to talk it out and that's what we did.

My son had to go off and deal with it on his own and I respected his need to process it on his own (though that was difficult to do).

I think what helped the most is that I had a good relationship with my kids beforehand and this "news" didn't change that.

Another thing was that my wife supported me and was there to support the kids when I came out.

It helped my kids to have their straight Mom to talk to so they could say things to her that they might not want to say to me out of fear of hurting my feelings.

Now I put "news" in quotes because coming out to my kids was very emotional for me and at the time it never occurred to me that there would come a time when telling someone I was gay would be no big deal.

In fact, now it feels sort of like telling someone I am Catholic or I love to read. It's just not a big deal.

But that's because my family knows and still loves me and that now I know that, for the most part, the rest of the world could care less.

So I am not too worried about that relatively small group of people in my world that would rather hinder than support me.

I focus on the vastly larger group of people that either accept me as I am or could care less.

I just want to tell you that coming out to my kids was tough but all my fears were unfounded. The reality was the kids and the world took the "news" in stride.

Now having said I did not have religious issues to contend with and oftentimes that is the one big sticking point for a family so I hope plenty of other gay Dads talk to you about how they dealt with religious issues after coming out.

But you have your wife's support and a great relationship with your kids and that is major.

Regards,
Philip

Beck said...

JGW: I do appreciate your positive spin on this. It means a lot to me to have your support. At the same time, I'm just taking the steps necessary to bring my son and daughter into the loop of the "family secret", and I'm not ready to expand that circle any wider just yet. I hope the ward will be as accepting as yours has been with you. With my current position, I doubt that all will be comfortable. But, right now, that's neither here or there.

The comment was just that as my very tight circle has expanded just a bit, it makes me realize the more it expands the less control I have of the situation.

For now, it's HUGE to get to this point, and I'm going to need "time to process" before making any additional steps. But thanks again for the encouragement and good will toward me and my choices.

Beck said...

SCOTT: If anyone knows of the "dos and don'ts" of coming out to a ward, it is you. And frankly your experience still sends chills down my spine. I would like to think my ward is very kind, accepting, and loving, but they are also very conservative. As noted to JGW above, I'm not about to out myself at F&T meeting... I'm just thinking that someday it will come. But for now, it's okay expanding the circle by two.

My point about my reaction to my son was just in the irony of the situation. I had prepared myself for a big rebuttal and organized in my mind arguments against any of his doubts or confusion over the issue. Instead, he was totally cool and non-judgmental and I'm glad he was... it was just the irony that my expectation didn't match reality. I don't think that's homophobic as much as it's ironic.

As for my youngest daughter (who's still in grade school) and my oldest daughter (who's away from home) it will be a matter of the right time for each. I appreciate your pointing out that even a 5year old can appreciate what's going on.

And thanks, mostly, for your "hug" and your support. I may be plodding along, but I'm still plodding. Having you recognizing that the careful commitment and solidarity with my wife is a good thing sustains me on this path.

Thanks, my friend.

PHILIP: Thanks for seeing my relationship with my wife and kids as being most important. It may end up, even with my daughter, to not be as big a deal as I thought it would be. And your testimonial of your situation is extremely helpful as I process my "unfounded" fears. They only move from real to unfounded by doing, and it will come... Thanks.

MoHoHawaii said...

My view is like Scott's. I think it's really wards along the Wasatch front that have the most problem with issues like homosexuality. I'm not sure that it reflects a more conservative bent; Mormons everywhere are a pretty conservative bunch, not just in Utah. I think the issue is more due the fact that in Utah your ward members are also your immediate neighbors. Ward gossip and neighborhood gossip are unified. Proximity changes the dynamic.

There's also the effect of majority/minority status. People stick together in the mission field for reasons of solidarity. This doesn't happen as much in areas where Mormonism is the dominant religion.

(I'd love to be proven wrong about this situation, truly. It would thrill me if Beck saw an outpouring of love and support from his ward.)

J G-W said...

I don't disagree with Scott's analysis... I think any coming out scenario in an LDS ward that didn't provoke at least some negative reaction would be extremely rare. (Though I honestly think we will see this as a general phenomenon in my lifetime.)

Also, let me point out that there's a HUGE difference between my situation and Beck's situation in the eyes of the Church. Even the most conservative Wasatch-front Mormon no longer has an excuse -- from the point of view of well-publicized statements by Church leaders -- not to embrace or at least be mildly supportive of Beck in his path. The fact that even I am experiencing kindness and compassion from Mormons who are not that much less conservative, if anything, only highlights the sea change that has occurred on this issue.

I think potentially one cultural difference between the Wasatch front and the "mission field" -- especially in wards like mine that are located in the downtown region of a major metropolitan area -- is that Mormons in the latter wards are much more likely to have openly gay, same-sex-partnered co-workers and neighbors. I'm sure that is having an impact.

I'm NOT pushing you to come out in your ward, Beck! I TOTALLY think this should be your choice, on your timetable, when you (and your family!) think you're ready. I'm just saying... I think when you do finally take that step (if you take it) you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the doomsday scenarios you've imagined don't materialize.

Beck said...

MOHOH and JGW: No argument that things are getting better. There is a difference between "inside Utah" wards and "outside Utah" wards where the ward IS the neighborhood.

Alas, I am not at that point to test the waters of tolerance and love (though I'm not fearing it nearly as I did a few years ago - thanks to both of you and your help), but I have a sincere hope that "when" I do, I will not experience the horrors of intolerance that I've imagined.

There is always hope!

Sarah said...

Great post and comments. I haven't looked in on you (or anyone else) for a long time. Scott and I have never regretted our openess with the kids. It has been tough on them at times, mostly last year when I was having a really hard time as Scott was slowly transitioning our relationship, but it was also really nice for me to have them to lean on.

Hmmm. I wonder...my daughter really likes the fact that she can talk to her friends about stuff, but as she matures, I know she will have a need to connect with others in her situation with a gay dad. How old is your daughter? I guess you wouldn't want to see if she wants to hang out with ours sometime? Although if yours hears about our situation, she might worry even more about your wife. :) Honestly, though, even though it was really tough for a while, I do not regret the growth I have personally experienced from the process.

I think I need to go to bed. I'm rambling... :)

Anonymous said...

Beck,

I think Sarah's idea of introducing your daughter to other children of gay Dads is an excellent one.

If you like, I could ask my daughter if she would be willing to correspond by email with your daughter.

My daughter is 32 years old and not religious but was 16 years old when she basically sat me down and told me she knew.

She is now a fourth grade teacher and has had several students with gay parents so has also had to deal with this issue in the school environment.

Let me know.

Regards,
Philip

Beck said...

SARAH: Thanks for your example of "openness" particularly with your kids. It brings me courage to be strong in facing the challenges before me.

SARAH and PHILIP: Thanks for your offers to make connections with my daughter. I'll keep that in mind as we go forward... I appreciate the sincere willingness to help!

Bror said...

:)

Bravone said...

Beck, I am relieved for you! Finally being able to share your life with your family is such a blessing. My daughter took it harder than my sons did as well. I think she had such an idealized view of who dad was that she was a bit scared of what it all meant. When we told her, my wife, son just older than her, and I were all present, and that helped a bit. It's been almost a year now I think, and things are back to normal again, maybe even better. Each child needs to be allowed to assimilate the information on their own time table and in their own way.

Just keep being you. I'm thrilled your wife is opening up as well. It keeps getting better!

Ti voglio bene amico mio!

The Lead Singer said...

"Be naked in the splendor of the truth of who you are."
— Gangaji

Beck said...

BROR, BRAVONE, and WYATT: Thanks for being there. I think it does get better... slowly...