My story of being. Like many others, I waited until 60 before coming out as a Lesbian.
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OUT AT SIXTY
Part 1: Beginnings
As a 13-year-old girl, I had a crush on a girl---and I still love Nancy. She did not know then and she does not know now, 47 years later. I look forward to my 50-year class reunion in 2006 when I will see the beautiful grandmother again.
On August 5, 1938, I was born a lesbian: every cell of my physical body was programmed to be lesbian by my Creator, God of all Creation. As I look back at my heart relationships, my choice of best friends, during my early school years, they indicate that my heart's preferences were girls. The boys whom I chose as friends were those who had no romantic interest in me.
I remember that both my sister and my brother were choosing opposite gender friends with whom they shared "kissy, kissy, huggy, huggy" relationships, even at fourth grade. I wanted no part of such interactions, even when they set-up a situation pairing me with a boy for a single purpose: to ensure that we would stay outside with them so that they could "make out" in the dark with the other boy and girl. We stayed outside because they wanted us too; but I rejected any contact with the boy so we sat on the porch and talked.
The next year my family was best friends with a family and whenever their kids and my siblings played "cops and robbers," in the forest, they paired off and hid from us so they could "make out" with another boy and girl---the rest of us gave up and went back to the house. Their behavior with the opposite gender until age 16 and our parents gave them permission to begin dating.
I did not have an interest in dating during my high school and college years; however, I had crushes on many girls during those years. I even had daydreams about romantic relationships with certain of them. When I was 16, I felt within my being that I was a lesbian. So did my father. He clearly explained the lifelong problems that I would face if I let it be known that I was a lesbian.
The summer that I played in a girls' softball league, he and mother attended every game and drove me to out of town game. They had never attended similar activities at school or in the community with me before that---I knew exactly why he never missed a game.
Dad was especially concerned for my safety within society at that time because gays were often attacked and assaulted; in addition, he knew that I would never be able to teach school. I respected my father's concerns and acted accordingly.
I was raised as a Southern Baptist, a denomination that has always taught that being gay was abominable, a belief based on their interpretation of only one verse in the whole Bible. I was always uncomfortable with that, nevertheless, I did not express my views. They don't follow the rest of the verses in the Old Testament.
During my first year at college, I accepted a date with a guy at church who had a crush on me and I married him after college graduation---staying single was interpreted as evidence that an individual was gay. The church, family and society expected marriage after schooling so I did the expected thing.
I was a good wife but my devotion to my husband was not necessarily based on a romantic heart relationship, but as a best friend. When I remember the evening he told me he loved me and wanted to marry me, I recall finally, that my next words should be "I love you" so I spoke them from my head, not from a romantic heart.
During our marriage, we were family friends with another couple and I desired and enjoyed a close friendship with the other wife and cared more for her and being in her presence more than I did my husband. She was definitely not lesbian and, in 42 years she has never known of my special heart attraction to her.
Before our divorce, we had 3 children, and since then, seven grandchildren have joined my family. I asked for the divorce because of his behavior (the third time he pinned my shoulders down and strangled my breath, almost my life from me), reasons which my children understood and accepted later in their lives, after they married. In his anger and to explain and maintain support from the church and our friends, he gave the worst reason that he could tell: "Ann is a lesbian." Many couples stopped all contact with me for that reason. One of them told me later and renewed her friendship with me.
During the years before I came out, there were other occasions when someone called me a lesbian. I was insulted when those were negative accusations spoken with angry or hatred. The most hurtful occasion was when a co-worker, who was the wife of a church deacon, was critical of many people. She was the most critical gossiper I have met in my 67 years of life. Her gossip was painful to me after a friend told me that she had started the gossip that "Ann is a lesbian" and that 'everyone is talking about you."
I went to my Chief Executive Officer to discuss the matter, wherein, he chose to terminate her, but only after he said the other disgusting words to me: "even if you are a lesbian, it doesn't matter to me." Those words are inappropriate anytime they are spoken, because they imply that to be gay is wrong; if spoken in the same way to a murderer, they would clearly mean that being a murderer is wrong. Another CEO and other people have also spoken the same words and caused me emotional pain for the same reason.
Part 2: Coming Out
After my divorce, I chose not to come out because I was a single mom with three children under age thirteen who would have had problems during their teenage years when their friends learned that. When the three of them became adults, I did not come out because I found myself raising three grandchildren; therefore, I waited longer. By the way, I did not date during all the years after the divorce.
After my oldest grandson came out to me, I told him that I was a lesbian. My response to him gave him the acceptance and right to be the person he was created to be. I was 60 years of age. After telling my grandson, I came out to others: family, friends and co-workers. My children as adults continued to be lovingly sweet and accepting: I was especially grateful for the gift of acceptance by my daughter and her family who were members of a strong conservative religious denomination.
I came out in my community, a county where conservative religious groups were actively against what they considered "liberal moral issues." I wrote a "letter to the editor" to the area newspaper who published it as a 4-column "OP-ED" piece. In it, I referenced many Bible verses with a reminder that I, as a gay person, have the same characteristics and faith that Christians seek to have. The reason I wrote the article was to let people know that this professional person, who had worked there for more than 30 years and whom a large majority knew, was gay.
My retirement was effective the same day that the newspaper article was printed and that was the morning that I attended my last agency management committee. After I expressed my gratitude for my years of working with them, I told them that I was gay and gave each of them a copy of the article. All of them, including the two conservatives, stood in line to shake my hand and hug me. That farewell and acceptance was a blessing and a gift.
I do not believe in "family secrets" because family gossip spreads the secret, and the family member, who the secret is about, cannot understand the standoffish way that some family members act toward them. To prevent such family gossip, I determined that I would tell, not only my mother, but also my extended family members that I was gay. I told some of them in person and I told others by writing a letter. My father had died in 1965; therefore, I was unable to continue our conversation of 1954 about my being gay.
My mother has always believed her Southern Baptist Denomination's interpretation of the Bible; therefore, I knew part of the response that I could expect from her. I lived in a different state, so I wrote her a letter. After she received it, she began to discuss the matter with my siblings and quoting the Bible as she questioned whether I would go to hell because of the sin of being born as gay.
My brother's responded to my mother by reading: Leviticus chapter 18; after which, he asked her: "if you and your church believe only one of the verses is to be believed and practiced, then, why don't you practice all the commands in all of the other verses? She then quoted her denomination's belief: "laws that God gave in the Old Testament no longer apply since the New Testament was written." Then, he questioned the hypocrisy of that belief.
He also disarmed her negative attitude toward me for "choosing" to be gay by asking her: "If you believe that being gay is a choice, then, you have to believe that being straight is also a choice. Therefore, I ask you: When did you make the choice to be straightl?" Of course, she, like other straights, cannot answer the question. Usually they simply say, "I've always been straight!" He told her, "You have your answer about whether your daughter made a choice. Her only choice was to decide if and when to come out." Mom coolly accepted my being a lesbian and she reacted in a kind, positive way toward Molly, my partner since the year 2000.
Part 3: After Coming Out
All of my life, the cry of my heart had been, "I want to be me." Coming out was the time in my life that I said; "Now I am me, the person created 60 years ago." The day that I came out began a time of a quiet peace in my heart. Immediately, I felt relief that I had chosen to come out and would no longer feel the need to harbor a secret in the depth of my soul. I could be me.
At that time, my grandson was living in a small town near Portland, Oregon. When I drove to the area to visit him, I stopped in Portland to attend a discussion group at one of the gay bookstores. Following the meeting, I chose to visit the same "gay bar" that the group leader told me was her favorite place to meet friends of Portland's gay community, also called "family."
I am a teetotaler who prefers 'cherry-cokes" and I wanted to be around other gay people that evening. I met some new friends and, contrary to the opinions of straight people, I was not 'hit on' by any woman that evening or any other time I have been in a bar whose primary patrons are gay. Fact is: I was 'hit-on" by a straight guy who was there with his girlfriend.
My visits to interact with Portland's gay community continued for many months until I decided to move to Portland. Often I arrived in Portland and visited with many people of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Trans (GLBT) community and learned their stories. One was a young man who came out and when he church leaders heard about it, he was demonized in front of the church congregation, then banished by both the church and his parents. His father beat another up one who came out as a young teen and another who came out as a young man. There were Lesbians who had to leave home or live their adult life without ever seeing their parents again. I was told about the young man who jumped off the freeway overpass because of the loss of his parents.
Thankfully, not all parents are destructive to their children. While they may be disappointed that their child may not make them grandparents, they love their child enough to accept them as the same child whom they loved the day prior to learning that he or she is gay. Parents, who want to understand, so that they do not feel conflicted, attend Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P.FLAG).
Part 4 My Partner
One day I became acquainted from a lesbian, who was still grieving for her beloved partner had died of cancer a few months before. They were two people who loved each other so much that they lived as a married couple---in their hearts. While the law does not recognize marriage among same-gender couples, those who have fallen in love, consider themselves married.
Molly and I purchased a house together and share all living costs just as opposite-gender married couples do. We share medical, dental, transportation and other family costs. The best that we share, other than loving each other, are Galileo and Indigo Girl---miniature Chihuahua-poodle doggies. We will not divorce because we are together "until death do us part" and because we could not bear to separate Gali and Indi.
My life is more peaceful and happy now more than ever. I am blessed. I am glad that God made me a lesbian.
(this writing will help guide me as I take on the challenge of writing an autobiographical book that may one day help someone else on their life's path. In 2012 I'm now 74 and still with Molly and still happy I came out to live who I've always been. Ann)
the rest of the story is in the following: