Forced Out

“I’ve always lived a very private life. … To come out and disclose stuff is very antithetical to who I am.” —Meredith Baxter.

I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but Meredith Baxter has come out of the closet on the “Today” show. More like drop-kicked out of the closet. “Baxter says she was finally forced to officially come out after Perez Hilton yesterday posted photos of her and her girlfriend.”

How sad. I think everyone should be allowed the choice of when, how, and IF they come out to the general public. Perez Hilton, yet again proving (s)he’s a black eye to the gay community.

I had a hard enough time coming out to my family and those friends close to me. I’m not a celebrity. I can’t imagine the thought of my career dangling on whatever misconception people have about me have because all they can see now is my sexual orientation.

Yet strangely, I do.

I have a career and client base that is very traditionally not accepting of being gay. After all, how many tattoo artists do you know who are gay? Add living in Arkansas to that, and you can maybe understand why there are times and places I do not discuss my personal life around people I don’t know.

Does this mean I’m not out? That depends. Being out means a lot of things depending on who you’re talking with. As people get to know me, most figure out that I’m gay on their own. Being gay is just one piece of the puzzle that makes me me. If people won’t accept me as a person for the example I live by, then why bother adding anything else they obviously won’t be able to deal with?

I’ve been outed to total strangers by non-gay friends a few times in social settings which has made me more than a little uncomfortable each time it’s happened.

I’m not of the personality type that goes running around shouting “I’m gay” to the world from the rooftops or have a big pink triangle tattooed on my forehead. I personally think being “in-your-face” gay is just as bad as being a total closet case. But I am open-minded enough to accept that there is a time and a place for everything. Just let me choose the when, how, and IF I come out to the general public.

Am I wrong for thinking this? What do you think?


This is how I look when I’m not amused.

Until next time...
Erik

15 thoughts on “Forced Out

  1. If I have ever done this I am truly sorry. the last thing I ever wanted to do was make you feel uncomfortable.

  2. I wonder why straight people feel the need to tack that on, “my gay friend, ____ or my gay cousin, my gay brother” we’re not a novelty act. Your right “out” means a lot of different things to different people and there is some gray area. Being a florist it might as well say “out” on my business cards, but most dont have that luxury in a work place. Its should be up to the individual considering the environment/situation on how much they share, but to lie about being gay/lesbian I think is wrong except in exceptional circumstances.

    1. I’ve often wondered on the introductions too. Why not introduce me as “the computer guy”, “the tattoo guy”, “or the slightly off kilter guy”? Wait, that happens! I hope to think it’s not meant in a disrespectful fashion. Maybe it’s an honor of sorts to be known for that? I can see someone thinking: “Hey, I know this great person, and they happen to be gay. You should know that because they’re not what ‘we’ typically think about when we think ‘gay’.” Or maybe I’m just delusional.

      I understand the automatic labeling with the job description. As the Husbear is a cosmetologist, that label is usually included in his line of work. I think it sometimes makes things easier with the public when it comes to “inherent” talent. Not that that makes it right.

      And I definitely agreeing with the not lying about being gay, unless it’s in a life threatening circumstance. Again, it’s all about circumstances.

  3. Very nicely put. I agree with you 100% about everything you discussed. I’ve come to the conclusion that the younger gay community is a much different community then I know of. Most intelligent people I know look at Perez Hilton, The Kardashians and most of the “hip” culture is repulsive and sad.Those same people tend to be in their 30’s and beyond. The younger gay community seem to have a very entitled, self centered, and dismissive behavior. I wonder if the fact that many of these kids were so spoiled and never had to deal with many of the struggles of growing up gay. The whole “outing” and fear of being “outed” is a disrespectful thing. I am hopeful that some day Perez Hilton will OD or get run over. He is a horrible roll model and representative of the gay community. The younger generation seem to embrace people like him and other drama queens. I just hope straight people don’t think that’s how all gay people are. Lol

  4. Gay has become a lifestyle. That means that its a market segment that can be exploited. Advertising thrives on this. The general public hear it repeated endlessly and are quite comfortable putting anyone they meet into those same categories. This isn’t all bad, since it is in the interest of marketers to legitimize a segment, so, purely out of greed, they’re in favor of the “normalization” of the gay “community” as quickly as possible. For my part, it hasn’t happened to me, but should it happen, I guess I’ll just grin-and-bear it.

    Having come out at age 59.5, just two years ago, I can say that I’m still doing it, and don’t expect to be finished for some time to come. So far, so good.

  5. It’s interesting. The current terminology amongst the atheist community is “out”, as in “I came out to my parents as an atheist.” I’ve felt it’s an odd choice of words – I’ve never hid my atheism, and feel quite strongly there is no God – but I understand some people struggle with it due to a variety of factors, usually religious upbringing. If someone felt the need to introduce me and declare my lack of belief (“This is Nick, he works in I.T., and he’s an atheist”) I’d think it was unusual, but I don’t think I’d be uncomfortable with it. I certainly wouldn’t feel outed. I wasn’t “in” to begin with. My atheism is what it is, no more, no less.

    That being said, if my atheism is so bizarre or noteworthy we all have to put a fine point on it, then I’d prefer I be the one to do so, especially here in the deep South, amongst mixed company.

    I understand that while we’re both in a minority group, being an atheist isn’t the same as being gay. After all, I can hide my belief – or lack thereof – very easily. In social settings, in public, what-have-you, I can “get along” just as well as everyone else. I imagine homosexuality is somewhat more difficult to hide.

    Which brings me to my point, despite all the rambling: You shouldn’t have to hide who you are to begin with. I’m keenly aware no one comes out as straight or Christian. And why should they? I’d like to be extended that same courtesy, where a mention of my atheism is as dull and trite is anything else.

    Also: I’d love to live in a world where Meredith Baxter was never outed because no one gave a shit in the first place. I long for the day when “coming out” is a quaint, old-fashioned term with no real meaning.

  6. I am in education. It is almost required that I am in the closest for 85% of my day. Hell only 1 other person (that I have told) on my campus knows that I am openly gay. It is almost dangerous for me to come out, which is truly sad!

  7. I completly agree. I dont introduce myself by saying “Hi, I’m Brian and I’m straight”. What the hell does your sexual
    orientation have to do with who you are? However, I do know several people that are gay and want the world to know it.
    I never quite got that… kinda like the guy that says “Hey, I’m Bob, I’m in the Army”…I usually say “Good for you!”.

  8. I agree with you Erik on the point that you should be able to be the one to decide how much to share with people about your sexuality. Especially in a business setting. I think it becomes a little more gray in a personal setting. Maybe people who say this are encouraging you to be yourself in front of someone you don’t know. I understand you want to be the one to make that decision and obviously it’s not a bad intention on their part. I also think that Perez Hilton needs a good spanking for being such a twit.

    For some reference, I’m now 41 years old and from the deep south. I grew up in an environment much like you describe in Arkansas. While I agree that people should be as “out” as they choose to be, I think that with every new bit of exposure to the hetero population that we come just a little closer to Urspo’s description of a world where it doesn’t matter; or where Ben doesn’t need to walk on eggshells during his work day. It’s wrong to steal someone’s privacy by outing them. I have a slightly different view when it comes to the self-righteous who speak against our community when they in fact are in the closet.

    I hope I live long enough to see the day when it just won’t matter any longer.

  9. I agree: It’s personal. It depends on the situation, the people, etc. I am struggling with coming out at my “work place”, but than I have such an unusual kind of “work place” that even mentioning it here might be unwise. (Why I continue this subterfuge is beyond me, right now).

    Our sexuality DOES matter, though. It IS more than just the color of our eyes. It IS more than just a belief system. It is an important part of the fabric of our being. That’s not to say that we need to share it, willy nilly, with the greater population; but I’d want to share it with those to whom I grew closer (if that hadn’t figured it out already).

    I’ve struggled with the fact that I’m gay most of my life (and I’m 54). It’s only been in the last five years that I have accepted myself – and that has been a long road.

    Now, I am getting comfortable with me. Ah, the relief. Now, I’ve come out to my children, as well. It’s been tough for them, but they are great and working with it.

    We’ve been living with “being gay” for a long time – most straight people don’t have a clue. We are more than just a “novelty” to them. TO some, we are a threat. To some, an abomination. To most, we’re a mystery. It IS a big deal to them. That’s why they want to say, “this is my gay friend.” It’s either about giving “warning” or “look at how open-minded I am.”

    The more we share with others, the more “out” we are, the more we talk about it, the more we let the world know we are here and we are queer, and we will not be relegated to hiding.

    I know, I’ve not been out long enough to get to my “post gay” period. I’m still wanting to tell the world and make them listen. Of course, many will not listen. So: how, and where, and to whom we share our lives is something we must each figure out. But it does make a difference.

    I’m just saying.

  10. Ironically enough, I *do* have a pink triangle tattoo, albeit on my arm.

    I entirely agree that it is up to the individual and that people shouldn’t be forced out. No stipulations.

  11. I think her point in coming out was that she wanted to be ahead of the tabloids. While she has lived a very quiet life, she did a public thing when she went on a “gay” cruise with her partner and knew people would be talking.
    She wasn’t forced… she put herself out there by going on the cruise.
    People who have to talk about other people’s lives must have very small lives of their own.

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