I want to thank everyone for their encouraging words yesterday.  And I wanted to respond to a few of the comments.  First, Vilges Suola, I think that the two boys expected that it would either rile me up or I would gossip with them.  When I did neither, but talked to them privately after class, they expected for me to bless them out.  However, I have found that at points like that, it is best to speak to them like adults.  They appreciate and hear the seriousness of my tone.  They know what I normally expect of them and this was a different kind of situation, so while they have seen the more serious and compassionate side of me, it’s rare and they listen.  They knew I was serious, and I just wanted them to understand what the repercussions could be, not for them but for the other boy. The threat of what would happen to them if they didn’t do the right thing was left unspoken, nor did it need to be spoken of.  I think the coach handled that part, but in a way that I could not.

Jay, it would not be good for me to talk to the other kid.  I think he knows they know, but he is hoping that they will keep it quiet.  I also do not think I am the best person to talk to him, because this is a kid who hates me.  He usually shows his contempt for me everyday.  It’s not for anything I do, but he’s one of those kids who thinks he’s better than the other people at our school and shows his contempt openly.  He’s also a bit of a lazy kid who does not like it when I prod him to do his work.  In other words, we do not get along.  I get along with the vast majority of the kids, but some just don’t like me and I cannot bow down to their every whim so that they will like me.  He does not need to know what I did, nor what the coach did.  I honestly believe that if he did know, it would be worse for him.  This way, as long as they keep quiet, he can continue with his denial that people don’t know, and he won’t feel as if he is being singled out.

With what happened Tuesday,  I wish I could explain to all of them what life is like for a gay person in the rural area where we live, but if I had a frank conversation with them about it, I couldn’t do so without coming out to them and giving a personal testimony.  It amazes me how so many of them think that being gay is a choice.  There is a choice, but not the choice most people think. We are born the way we are born.  I believe that with all my being.  Why would I or anyone choose to live a life as a gay man with all of the prejudices and hindrances that still exist.

I did a lot of spiritual searching to understand and come to terms with being gay.  The only choices I ever saw was not whether or not I was gay, but how would I live my life.  I could only see three choices.

First, I could continue to pretend to be heterosexual.  Women loved me.  I could understand them.  I could even love them.  Would I ever be satisfied married to a woman?  The answer was a resounding NO!  All I could see was that I would make some woman miserable. The marriage would have never been fully satisfying for either of us.  I did not believe this was an option.  Why make someone else miserable, just to “save face” for my family?  A life of misery was not worth it.  I will always think that this is the life my father chose for himself and is the reason he is so miserable most of the time.

My second choice was to accept being gay, move away and live my life.  Hopefully, I would find that someone to make my life complete.  I thought that this was my plan.  I moved away to graduate school, came out of the closet, and lived another life away from my hometown.  It did not work out like that.

I moved back home, for a number of different reasons and have stayed, at least for the time being.  So my third choice came about.  Go back in the closet and be alone.  For over two years that is what I did.  I had friends through my blog and other blogs, and that was enough.  I told no one that I was gay, and I kept it that way.  Then I met some wonderful friends who I could come out to; who I could be myself with.  I’m still alone, as in there is no significant other in my life, but I do have friends I can share things with. It’s not the best solution, at best, it is a lonely solution, but it’s where I am.

Many gay people move to the bigger cities, where there is a larger gay population.  Where I live that could be Mobile, Atlanta, or New Orleans.  Others of us stay and make the best of our situation.  I don’t expect to stay here forever, but for now this is where I am.  I wish I could explain these difficulties to my students, but I can only do so much.  It’s one of those things where we have to take small steps.

With the 50th anniversary of many of the major events of the African-American Civil Rights Movement reminds us, it too was a slow process, one that is still continuing.  I don’t expect Alabama to move any quicker than a snail’s pace (if that speedily) toward the Gay Rights Movement.  Attitudes will eventually change.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

6 responses to “Choices

  • Coop

    Sometimes I truly wonder if it's worth coming out.I'm out… but I doubt it is a process that is ever finished. When I came out to my first couple of friends in college, I was putting myself at risk. They have been nothing but supportive. I don't have to live a lie. Yeah, some of friends don't officially know still but I doubt anyone will care if I suddenly bring a BOYfriend.I don't have to lie. That's reason enough to come out.

  • Loki's Log

    Joe,I think you handled the situation yesterday perfectly and approaching the young man would not only have been awkward but potentially risky for you as it would have required you to bring in the other boys who confided in you and how could you not come across as accusatory to him? he might have reacted badly, defensively etc., since you dont hav a close relationship. As for coming out or not – I am in the closet – so what I have always said is "to each his own"

  • Jay M.

    I see why you'd make the choice not to talk to the student in question. Thanks, it helps to know, and seeing this, I think you're 100% correct. Coming out is deeply personal, totally individual, and always conforms to one's situation in life. I would never judge anyone for their decisions, nor encourage or discourage it one way or another. I think as adults, we know what is best of us at any given time/stage of life. Far be it for anyone else to tell you you're wrong!Viva la GAYNESS! (Or something like that!)Peace <3Jay

  • fan of casey

    Joe:You made a practical choice to live your life — it is one of compromises but your situation is only temporary. New opportunities will be available to you in the future.

  • David Jeffreys

    Remember we had this discussion before you took this job at the high school. I encouraged you to take it to use it as a stepping stone to finishing your doctorate. I know it has often been tough living the lie, but necessary. Perhaps this little situation in your life will give you the drive to finish your PhD this summer and move on to one of those bigger cities where you won't have to live the lie.I miss our chats, and wish you could have been with us at the Blogger Palooza in Lewes, DE. You certainly could have been your self there!David

  • Buddy Bear

    I can say from experience that once you do come out you will never, EVER want to be in the closet again. The freedom is incredible. I want to shout about my gayness from the mountain tops!

Thank you for commenting. I always want to know what you have to say. However, I have a few rules: 1. Always be kind and considerate to others. 2. Do not degrade other people's way of thinking. 3. I have the right to refuse or remove any comment I deem inappropriate. 4. If you comment on a post that was published over 14 days ago, it will not post immediately. Those comments are set for moderation. If it doesn't break the above rules, it will post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: