Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'm Not Gay Anymore

Ahhh the holidays. What a wonderful time. Lots of food, good cheer and family. This year was no different. However, one extra family member came to visit that I hadn't seen in about five years. It was my cousin Matthew. Ok, that's not his real name but the rest of the story is true. Matt and I used to be close but then something happened and now we never talk.

Growing up Matt and I weren't very close. I was much closer with his brother. However, Matt joined the military and was in the first gulf war when I was in college. I wrote to him all the time and we developed a strong relationship. When he came back to the states we continued to develop our relationship through letters and by phone. Matt was always considered a little aloof and he didn't visit the family much.

It was during this time that I learned Matt had dated men. Being in the military he was torn. He really enjoyed his career as an officer and wanted to continue. However, he felt that to continue to get promotions he needed to be married. This struggle eventually led to him leaving the military. He settled down and eventually was in a committed relationship with a man. During this time I had also come out. While he did all of this away from the family I came out and shared my life openly with the family. He was always amazed at my openness and how the family had received it. Even knowing how accepting the family his interactions still didn't change.

My partner at the time and I visited him and his partner. Matt was happy and enjoying life. While I am not sure they had really developed a strong community of gay friends they seemed to enjoy their life. They didn't live in a particularly LGBT friendly part of the country so I think I attributed some of the closeted behavior as a protection mechanism. Looking back it could have been more than that. Could have been Matt still not fully accepting his sexuality.

Finally, Matt came home and brought his partner with him. While he kept the family interactions to a minimum everyone met his partner and to his surprise no heads exploded. We spent some additional time together and Matt and his partner seemed happy and were very open. Then a couple of years later everything changed.

Matt told me he and his partner broke up and it didn't end well. I was sorry things had ended so badly but I wasn't prepared for what would happen next. After some time passed I learned Matt was dating a woman. Not a biggie, sexuality can be fluid and Matt had gone back and forth with his relationships before. However, they were going to get married. Needless to say I wanted to hear more.

After our call I was very disappointed. My disappointment had nothing to do with which team he was playing for. What upset me was that she didn't know anything about his past. His response was, "I don't ask about her past and she doesn't ask about mine." That might work for some people but for me, if I am going to share my life with someone I want them to know the whole me. To me it was a type of lying. The woman is very religious and he believes would not have been ok with his past. I said, "Well maybe you should wait for someone who accepts you for who you are and not who they think you are." He said it was fine and he was happy. After a long discussion I let it go. Clearly having a deep conversation with his soon to be wife was not going to happen.

Let's just say I did not attend the wedding.

One night I got a call from Matt. He had clearly been drinking and his wife was out. Our conversation basically was him convincing himself he was happy and could keep his commitment of 30 years to her. Yes that's right 30 years. They set a time limit. I know it just keeps getting weirder. That was the last conversation we had. Until two days ago - Christmas Eve.

Matt and his wife made the trip to visit with family for the holidays. Let's just say it was the most awkward gathering I could remember. When Jess and I arrived with our son I thought everyone was outside. There was absolutely no conversation. What I found was everyone in a room sitting and looking at each other. OMG this was going to be a long night! I went around the room greeting everyone and introduced Jess and our little man to Matt and his wife. Then we made a beeline for the kitchen where we giggled with Matt's brother's wife, the hostess about getting this night over quickly.

At the end of the night Matt and his wife left and we had a couple of minutes with Matt's brother's family and my parents. We joked about how that couldn't have been more uncomfortable. My mom said she was surprised I didn't ask him what he thought about the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I laughed and told her it was the only thing I wanted to say and I thought I should get an award for keeping my mouth shut for that many hours. My wife's official comment on the meeting is, "Wow he's so still gay!"

I just shake my head. If he is happy that is great. I really don't care who he is with. It's the fact that because he has kept a big part of his life a secret the rest of us have to tiptoe around subjects. I am a big fan of honesty. Trust in a relationship is key for me. So I have more of a problem with this relationship because I feel it was built on a lie not because of a label of someone's sexuality.

I hope he is happy. I hope she is happy. I hope they don't have a countdown clock in there house telling them when their marriage ends.

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  1. Wow, what a sad story for all involved.

    It's hard to know what's really going on behind closed doors in other people's relationships. Normally I would say it's none of anyone else's business, but he's clearly made it your business by having you keep this secret for him. I can imagine how awkward that must've been. I don't know if I would've had as much patience as you did! Guess all you can do is gently encourage him to be honest with his wife. I mean, surely she'll find out anyway at some point, right?

    By the way, I think this is my first comment on your blog! Hello! :-)

  2. Hello outoutout! Nice to see you comment here. I think if I had to deal with him on a more regular basis my patience would be more tested and I would be more likely to fail.

    Hope to see your thoughts here again!

  3. Wow, very interesting! I truly did not expect that ending. I have a relative my age that stays away from our family because of the initial reaction he received to his coming out, but it certainly didn't take the same turn. Sadly he continues to stay away despite the acceptance our family has shown me and my partner.

    Thank you for sharing this story and glad you made it through this awkward family holiday moment - if it doesn't kill us it sure does make a great story!

  4. Faithful Foodie, thanks for reading and commenting.

    I am sorry your relative has chosen to stay away from the family. That must be tough. Plus, it sounds unfair since the family has accepted your family.

    I really believe it's about his issues of not wanting to deal with his sexuality and not how the family reacted. It's all about him and a stigma he has wrapped himself in. Like I said, I just hope he is truly happy.