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rserven has asked for coming out stories, given that today is National Coming Out Day.  I've told some of my story here on Daily Kos before, but I've never diaried fully just about it, so today of any day should be a good enough reason to do so.

For me, it was a long, painful experience.  There were a ton of tears shed.  And I spent a long time absolutely hating myself because of my sexuality.  Let me take you back....

[insert flashback music here]

I'm 29 years old now (as of a few days ago (October 2nd)), but I was 19 years old when I came out.  I was raised from my very earliest years as a member of the World Wide Church of God, even though it was many years before we finally started attending church services.  The WWCG was a very strict conservative Christian sect.  I don't know what the official WWCG positions on anything are now given that I've long since severed ties with them, but back then, the church taught -- and we believed -- things that other conservative churches did not.  We kept Levitical holy days like the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, which more than once caused people to ask if I was jewish.  We kept the Sabbath from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, which is why my first two years in high school I couldn't march with the marching band to perform field shows at football games or Saturday competitions.  The WWCG was adamantly anti-homosexuality.  My mom would tell me that gay people do what they do, but we know better.  Thinking back on things, I don't think my mom herself had a problem with homosexuality personally, but she followed what she thought was the teachings of God as handed down to us by the church.

I felt more harshly toward myself when I realized that I was attracted to men.  I live, and have lived my entire life, in rural central Virginia.  It's a really conservative place, and that definitely affected me.  I always believed myself to be and stated that I was straight whenever my peers would attack me.  And they did attack me a lot.  Luckily, I was never actually physically assaulted, but there were more times than I can remember that I was afraid that it would lead to that.  I'm not the absolute most masculine guy ever, but I'm not feminine either.  It's more that I was just quiet and sensitive, and that was enough for other guys to use to turn their desire to socially abuse onto me.  And in rural conservative places like where I live, there's plenty of that desire.  Hell, even adult teachers at my high school would call students faggots.

So, I was taught both by my church and by my surrounding piece of society that being attracted to the same sex was absolutely abhorrent.  And I seriously internalized it.  I was afraid to death to let anyone know that I felt attracted to guys.  I thought something was wrong with me.

My senior year in high school, I finally found a girl that I thought had enough substance that I was interested in and she ended up being my girlfriend.  We were both in band.  I was a drum major my senior year, so I was partially responsible for conducting band camp.  For a few days prior to full camp, we always did a new person camp for all freshmen band members any anyone else who was new to our band regardless of what grade they were in, like if someone had just moved to our school.  The girl who would eventually be my girlfriend was one such pre full camp attendee.  She was really good at marching too, so I assumed that she was new to our school and had learned at another school and that she was just attending because she was new.  Turns out she was a freshman.  She would eventually tell me that she didn't realize I was a drum major -- she apparently initially thought I was an assistant director.  She was a member of the color guard, and pretty much the entire color guard knew I liked her, with the exception of her herself.  She thought because she was a freshman and I was a senior that I wouldn't possibly be interested in her.  Anyway, one day I finally got up the nerve to ask her out.  I was going to do it after school right before band practice.  And it was then that I found out she was with someone else.  I deflated like a balloon.  A few weeks later, I found out she broke it off with him, and that day I decided I'd ask her the next day.  I was too anxious to ask her in person, so I did so in a letter that I gave to her before school and made her promise to not read until she got to her first period class.  It was on Veterans' Day, and I wasn't going to be at school for the first half of the day because I was performing as part of a quintet for a local Veterans' Day ceremony.  When I returned to school, during the mid-day break, she found me at my locker and told me yes.

So, I finally had a girlfriend.  And as much as I loved her and was attracted to her for sure, I still kept finding myself attracted to guys.  About six months into our relationship, I even told her that I had thought I might be gay.  But I was so scared to death about the possibility that I swore to her that I knew that I wasn't.  We continued on as a couple for another year and a half after that.  One night, I had been over at her house visiting all day long, and while there she knew I was distant and bothered, but I wouldn't tell her what over.  So, I went home afterward and called her, as I always did, to let her know I got home ok.  And she again said she wished I'd tell her what was bothering me.  I broke down crying on the phone -- I had sworn to myself that if I ever did tell her and we broke up, I wouldn't do it on the phone, and here it was about to happen on the phone.  I wanted to tell her, but I just couldn't.  So she said, "I think I know what it is; it's what you told me sometime back, isn't it?"  And I said yeah.  I poured it all out that night -- about how I was afraid of God hating me and all.  She, a life-long Episcopalian, told me that she didn't believe God hated me at all, and that was the first time in my life that I had ever heard anyone who was Christian say that God didn't hate gay people.

See, I firmly believed what I had been taught about God: that if I prayed for God to take away my homosexuality, that God would make me straight.  I reverently believed it.  So I prayed to be straight every day for like a year, but it never happened.  I always kept being attracted to guys.  I thought that if God hated homosexuality, and would make people straight if they prayed for it, and that since I did and he didn't make me straight, I believed that God had to have hated me so much that he completely turned his back on me.  For a while after reaching that conclusion, I thought, maybe God wants me to make myself straight.  So I started to physically abuse myself whenever I felt attracted to men.  I'd scratch up the entire underside of my forearms with my keys leaving huge, red welts all over them.  My girlfriend even noticed them one time when I picked her up at her house when we went out once, but I just shrugged her inquiry about it off and didn't answer.  I spent an hour late one night outside bashing my shoulder repetitively for that whole hour over and over again into a big wooden fence post until half my chest was bruised.  I walked barefoot over screaming hot asphalt for a mile once, leaving every spot my foot touched the ground covered in huge, painful blisters.  But no matter how much I hurt myself, I couldn't make myself straight.

So, I came to believe I was just fully evil.  If God wouldn't make me straight despite my prayers, and if I couldn't force myself to not be attracted to men, then I had to be evil.  And that's when I started thinking of suicide.  If I was truly that evil, I didn't want to allow something as evil as I was to live.  I was a horrible sinner, and since sinners go to hell, I believed I truly belonged in hell, and I was going to kill myself so that I could hurry up and go to hell.  And it was in dealing with this that my girlfriend told me that she believed God didn't hate me.  It blew my mind, and it started me questioning.  What if she was right?  If she was right, what else had my church been wrong on?

Secretly, I bought some books from the store about being gay and about coming out.  I totally, but secretly freaked out when I watched Jack come out on Dawson's Creek because of how much I identified with what he was going through.  One day, my older (much older, he's 15 years older than me) brother was visiting.  He was in my room and saw the book I had laying around about coming out.  He never said anything to me when he saw it.  I didn't know it then, but he started talking to my mom and my sister behind my back about it.  One Saturday night at like 9:00, he and his wife came over and asked me if I wanted to go play minigolf.  I knew something was strange because they never asked me to do anything.  We went, we played, they never said anything.  We were going to go see a midnight showing of Star Wars The Phantom Menace, but didn't.  The next Monday, my brother called early in the day and asked if I wanted to go see it then.  I said sure, and we went and saw it.  On the way home, he asked if I was ok if he took "the scenic route" home.  I said ok, and instantly upon turning onto that road, I realized what was happening.  He had entrapped me in his car so that he could confront me over that book.  I had to spend the next three hours, I think it was, defending myself as we drove around.  I had to justify myself against the concept that God was against homosexuality.  He asked me if I planned on living a "homosexual lifestyle".  I asked him what exactly that was, and he said any life in which I had relationships with men, and I said, yeah, if I ever found a guy who loved me.  He eventually took me back to his house so I could get my car and leave.  He asked me if I wanted to read any of the books he had about homosexuality -- they were crap books by people like James Dobson, ie books about a subject that they knew not what the hell they were saying.  I told him that I would read them if he asked me to, but that if it was up to me, I didn't want to.

It was a couple days later that I came across my mom sitting in the living room crying.  I asked her what was wrong, and she just said nothing.  I pressed the matter and she said, "You're not."  I pressed more asking, "Not what?"  And she'd just say, "You're not, you're not."  And I said, "Gay?  Yeah, I am."  She boohooed a lot.  She said that my brother and sister were saying that it was my dad's fault because my dad never had a presence in my life beyond being an abusive alcoholic sot that he is.  She told me, though, that she told them that if my dad's effectual absence caused it that my brother and sister (who is 21 years older than me) were equally to blame as they never did much of anything with me, leaving me to grow up almost as if I was an only child.  She also said that my sister had said that she didn't know how my girlfriend could still be nice to me because if she was her that she'd hate me.  My mom also told me that she had talked to my aunt (my mom's sister) about it, and that my aunt had said that I couldn't possibly be gay because she knew some gay men and I didn't act like they did.

So, my girlfriend and I broke up, of course, after I came out.  But we didn't end our relationship; it just changed.  She and I had been through a lot -- her father is as much a horrible, abusive man as mine is, hers just isn't an alcoholic like mine.  So, we were really, really close.  And we remain close today; ie we're completely best friends.  We talk about everything and turn to each other when there's something going on that we can't talk to anyone else over.  My brother and I no longer speak to one another, but that's over a completely unrelated matter.  My sister and I get a long fine; we're not as close as we could be, but there's no bad blood between us over my being gay anymore.  And my mom is totally supportive of me; she's since said that she might have had a problem with it back then, but she doesn't now and never will again, that she views her problems with it back then as her being wrong minded.  I still haven't told my dad, and I never will.  My dad and I do not have a relationship of anything but antagonism; I'm not exaggerating even slightly when I say he never wanted me.  Mom's told me that the day I was born, he wouldn't even take off work to take her to the hospital so she could give birth to me, and that once he finally came to the hospital after work, he was drunk and screamed at her that I wasn't his kid so loudly she knows the whole floor of the hospital heard him.  There is no love whatsoever between him and me, so I feel no desire for him to know anything about me, including that I'm gay, especially considering that I know he wouldn't understand.

I still suffer severely from depression and anxiety as a result of the emotional abuse I endured from my father and from my peers in school growing up.  My anxiety is so bad that I rarely leave my house.  I never finished college, and I've never had a job.  It makes me feel like a complete and total loser.  For me, doing something like going to the grocery store comes with the same amount of anxiety that public speaking or performing a recital in front of a crowd does to other people.  I'm even experiencing anxiety now as I type up this diary.  I'm ok personally with my being attracted to men, but I don't ever foresee myself having a boyfriend.  The one and only boyfriend I've had was lying piece of crap who played my every insecurity to get money from me before disappearing; to this day, I have no idea what happened to him -- at least, I no longer care what happened to him.  I do seriously judge myself for having not trusted my instincts and ended my relationship with him when I first felt I couldn't trust him.  But I let him make me feel like I was a bad person for not trusting him.  But that was eight years ago.

Now, I spend my time reading online and listening to music.  I don't know if I'll ever get better, anxiety wise.  Every time I go to the store, I end up tracking everyone around me; I have to know where they are and where they're going just in case.  Logically, I know they're not going to attack me, but that overwhelming anxiety is still there.  I've even seen psychological health professionals for my anxiety.  I've been on medication, but it didn't help.  I wonder if I would have as bad of problems with anxiety as I do if I hadn't grown up believing, having been taught by my church, and having been taught by my surrounding society, that I was a horrible person for being attracted to men.

UPDATE:  Thank you everyone for all your kind words and warm wishes.  And thanks for recommending this diary.  It's a long read, so thank you for taking the time to do so.  I hope that I have been able to appropriately share the level of inner strife that gay people all too frequently experience.  Coming out can be scary, but I do think that telling one's story about doing so is significant, and it can help those in this world who themselves do not have to experience it understand what it's like for those of us who do.  So, I hope I've been able to provide some of that material for understanding here.

Originally posted to vacantlook on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:35 AM PDT.

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  •  Find a better church (36+ / 0-)

    I noticed in this year's gay pride parade here in Columbus, there were more people from churches marching IN the parade than screaming banshee-KKKristians with bullhorns along the route.

    And I found that when I came out (at 28), I basically went through adolescence--really dating for the first time, and making all the relationship mistakes straight people get out of the way in high school. Give it another try, and don't beat up on yourself.

    •  Oh, I abandoned the WWCG a long time ago. (33+ / 0-)

      It's been years since I last considered myself Christian.  I now believe Jesus was a man who tried to change society, but I don't believe in salvation.  If God exists, unless he's a brutal evil bastard, he wouldn't create Hell for anyone to need saving from.

      I mostly consider myself agnostic now, though sometimes I feel a bit like a Taoist.

      •  Episcopal Church? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        daulton, grada3784

        Jim McGreevey, for example, enrolled at General Theological Seminary.

        As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

        by ticket punch on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:31:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  find a Unity church (7+ / 0-)

        Unity (not Unitarian) is Christian-based but honors the deep truths found in ALL religious traditions and also believes that all people are expressions of God and are thereby to be honored and loved.

        This church was a truly healing influence on my life and the life of my gay brother who had similar feelings/experiences as you.

        I was the sibling who, under pressure from father, trapped him in a car and tried to "save" him. Needless to say I have left my wrong-headed views behind too.

        •  Interesting... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sobermom, grada3784

          ...I don't hear much about the impact on straight siblings.

          Of my 3 brothers and sister, 3 of us are gay - 2 males and me. It was not hard on us coming out but other than my parents, it was most difficult on my straight brother.    

          "This is a fight for the future. And it's a fight we must win...Obama is my candidate. And he must be our President." Hillary Clinton, DNC, August 26, 2008

          by kck on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:48:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  To your healing soon and living well - I will (8+ / 0-)

        light the chalice next week at my Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church for you. As far as I can see, you have commited a terrible sin - you have not been able to love yourself as you are.  It is a long process and I wish you the best in this Tao.  I am not gay, but have experienced anxiety like the one you describe and I have been fortunate to find ways of coping (most of the time).

        I am a "reformed" Catholic myself and find that Christ's teachings (not the hypocritical Church) are still important to me, so I have found a nice home with UUs.  I am also a taoist, have been since I had a personal crisis 16 years ago and the Tao Te Ching helped me immensely.  UUs officially welcome gay people openly (and from what I have observed it is not just a policy, they walk the walk as well). From my Catholic-centric view, UUs are trying to live the teachings of Christ in this life (as opposed to preaching a lot and telling people to "do as I say, but not as I do"; as many "Christian" churches do). Most UUs are Christian or Jewish around here, but many are also atheists, Buddhists, taoists, and even some Wiccans.

        I am not trying to "convert" you or anything, but you local UU Church may be a very supportive group (I like to say that they are so open minded and supporting that they even welcome Republicans! LOL).  If you want to find out about it or about a local church, you can look up at

        I am pondering many of the questions about God and evil and have found the sermons and the community very interesting in discussing these things.

        Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

        by DefendOurConstitution on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:46:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was first turned onto Taoism... (7+ / 0-)

 my best friend/ex-girlfriend that I talk about in the diary.  At the time, she was very into Winnie the Pooh.  Pooh held a place of significance for her as a child, and it was something she still liked then.  As a present for some occasion, I don't remember what exactly but it wasn't Christmas or birthday, I gave her hardback copies of both The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet.  She read them and recommended to me that I read them too; she said she thought I'd like them.  So I borrowed her copies and did like them a lot -- so much so that I went out and bought myself copes, though in paperback.  From there, I've bought several different translations of the Tao Te Ching, a copy of the Hua Hu Ching, and a copy of Chuang Tsu.  When I read The Tao of Pooh, there was just so many things in it that just felt very common sensical to me.  It's been a while since I read either The Tao of Pooh or The Te of Piglet; maybe I should give them yet another read sometime soon.

      •  We have some similar background. (6+ / 0-)

        It's been a while, but I told some of the story in my first diaries here.

        I felt actually as though I went all the way through Christianity and "came out" on the other side.  But being so spiritually oriented, I found Taoism to be a great philosophy.  I really needed, and still really need, to sustain my reflective impulses, and Taoism as well as Buddhism (as different as they are) both give me some points of reference to do this in a way that doesn't involve the concept of a deity.

        I can relate to the anxiety factor as well; even though I can be okay in a group setting, it always puts me on edge.  It's difficult to find a niche, but there's nothing intrinsically better about living a social life compared with a solitary one.  I've been just as lonely in "relationship" with cold people as I've been when "alone," so just finding someone to be with is not an end in itself.

        Remember man, your dignity and humanity do not need validation from others.  Many people live quiet lives of reflection away from other people, and considering the general insanity that we call "civilization," I think it is a very sane approach to this life.

        You are also a good writer, I hope you will continue.

        Healing the universe is an inside job.

        by spotDawa on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:45:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  One learns to live without faith (0+ / 0-)

        A simple fact.

        "We do not torture." - George Bush during recent Asian visit

        by Flippant to the Last on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:20:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Or none at all. (22+ / 0-)

      Ditching the whole thing was one of the best things I ever did with my life.

      Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

      by cruz on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:47:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: Coming Out/Dating (7+ / 0-)

      There was a therapist who wrote a column in one of the L.A. gay papers who said that a person needed about five years after coming out to assimilate and be ready for a relationship. YMMV, but it's an interesting estimate.

      "Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole. Troll-be-gone...apply directly to the asshole."

      by homogenius on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:43:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I know someone like you were. (6+ / 0-)

      It was so sad- this guy was the lover of a very good friend of mine. My friend was totally at ease with being gay, but this guy was so messed up about it.

      He came from a rural, conservative family, and although he never said it in so many words, you just knew he thought of himself deep down as evil and worthless.

      It came out in odd ways- it was as though he was at war with himself. He and my friend lived together several years, and some days he was loving and supportive in that relationship, which my friend wanted. But other times, this guy would spontaneously go down to the sleaziest adult book stores and proposition total strangers and bring them home for one-night stands while my friend, devastated, would lock himself in another room or just leave. Even though AIDS had just come out and was at the time deadly, this guy never used condoms or any sort of safe-sex practices. I personally believe he felt so evil and hell-bound about being gay that he either decided he should have no constraints on behavior at all, or that he hoped to die.

      My friend tried to help him for a number of years, but he finally had to leave him, at least partly for concerns of his own safety. He (my friend) is now in a long, long term relationship with another guy which has been wonderful to see. I don't know what happened to this other guy.

      Anyway, the reason I tell this story is that I think you are not alone with your original feelings of self-hate. Your story gives me hope for others like this guy, that they may find peace with themselves one day.

    •  Find a Quaker meeting! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vacantlook, julifolo

      We accept everyone. And you don't have to be Christian to join-though many are.
      Make sure it's "unprogrammed", though.

      "There are no acceptable prejudices in the 21st century" -Hillary Clinton

      by jonwilliamsl on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 04:09:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I must say: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The Quaker concept of the Inner Light appeals greatly to me.  I have even thought, for a couple years now, of writing a story about the superiority of the inner light to the written word -- ie, the spirit of God living within each person vs the words written by humans.

  •  Truth shall set you free (24+ / 0-)

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    "The best way to predict the future is to help design it." - Peter Drucker -

    by citizen31 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:41:04 AM PDT

  •  Thanks. And sorry. (37+ / 0-)

    Thanks for telling this thoughtful personal story, hopefully opening some eyes to the struggle some people have just to be themselves in an ignorant, judgmental society.

    And sorry for having once been ignorant and judgmental myself.

  •  Glad for you (14+ / 0-)

    Glad your at ease with yourself, and shown great courage.

    I hope you all the best for you in the future, and find happiness with a soul mate

    take care

  •  Virtual Hug (21+ / 0-)

    Sounds like things have been rough.  Bravo for being true to yourself, and good luck to you.  

    From the future Mrs Colbert.

    by recruitgal on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:45:23 AM PDT

  •  Be gay be happy who cares !!! (21+ / 0-)

    My point is simple... I do not care if you are attracted to men or women.  Who cares ?  It blows my mind that we still have people who care about skin color or sexual orientation... just stop it who cares???  I am more likely to dislike someone because of their political belief than I am the color of their skin or if they like boys or girls.

    If you are gay and black so be it... if you think John McCain and Palin are the answer for our country YOUR AN IDIOT now get away from me.

  •  You are quite courageous (24+ / 0-)

    And I can't begin to imagine the anxiety you've felt.  I only hope that you keep your heart open and allow yourself to be loved.  You are certainly deserving of it.

  •  Thank you, vacantlook. (41+ / 0-)

    I can't say it was a truly heartwarming story, but itis an intense one and I'd love to give you a big hug right about now.  

    And the teacher in me would like to remind you that it is never too late to finish college. :-)

    I'd like to thank you for teaching us all today.

    Coming Out Day Stories

    If not now, when?

    •  I still have a desire to finish college. (25+ / 0-)

      I just don't know when exactly it'll happen.  I have to break myself of being too anxious to leave the house first, and I haven't been successful much in that yet.  But I do still hope that maybe one day, etc etc etc.

      Especially with our economy these days and how expensive everything is, I'd also like to absolutely know what I want to major in before ever returning to college.  Way back then, I had thought I was going to get a degree in music and become a music teacher, or a film score composer, but I eventually accepted that I just didn't have enough natural talent and basic skill set to make music a career; it's still great for a hobby though!  As to what I would turn to for major if I ever do go back to school, I have no idea.  There is a part of me that feels like I've lost my passion.  I do spend an awful lot of time thinking about writing stories, but of course creative writing is a tough business, so I'd have to have something I could supplement with if I ever did try to go down that road.

      •  Good on ya for the diary... (12+ / 0-)

        and, obviously, that's a really gut wrenching story. I really sorry for the things you've had to go through - and I'm also kinda sorry that my words (to me) sound a little anemic, but I'm at a loss. :(

        "Way back then, I had thought I was going to get a degree in music and become a music teacher, or a film score composer, but I eventually accepted that I just didn't have enough natural talent and basic skill set to make music a career; it's still great for a hobby though!"

        Yeah, I'd say music in particular (and arts in general) is probably a tough area to make a career, but maybe there are other ways to at least be in and/or around the music industry? I'm thinking things like recording engineering, etc. Just to give you a bit to think about.

        "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

        by soundchaser on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:06:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course, I forgot to add... (9+ / 0-)

          with regards to a career in music - as noted, it's a tough go, but remind yourself that, even though the percentage may be low, there are still tons of people actually making a living at it.

          And now for the thud of reality - I myself went to school for recording in the '80's, and unfortunately ended up as a truck driver. But still.... :D

          ^ That was just for a bit of levity - I'm a firm believer in trying any and all reasonable ways to do what ya actually enjoy for a living. Music probably requires thinking outside of the box a bit more than, say, dreaming of being a manual labourer, but other than that...

          "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

          by soundchaser on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:21:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But (5+ / 0-)

            I bet you're able to record some great music to listen to while driving your truck! ;-)

            Don't trust any UID over [insert current highest number here].

            by pattyp on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:27:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Heh heh... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Valerie, vacantlook, grada3784

              funny thing, that - I actually have done that, but my muse seems to only allow me to come up with 60 second ideas. :) Of course, working 60 hour weeks tends to blunt the creativity and hobby work ethic!

              "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

              by soundchaser on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:38:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  O.T. question here. (0+ / 0-)

                Are you aware of any software out there that can take a score, even if just a melody or countermelody line and output a sound track?  As a musician, I know that the inflections, the part that takes the notes and produces classical, swing or bebop as a recognisable result, won't be there but everything I've been able to find is sound clip massaging without a print-like front end.

                But Holy State (we have lived to learn) Endeth in Holy War. - Kipling

                by nargel on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 06:23:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not sure if this does what you're asking... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  but I think it does. The program is Finale, and I've heard good things about it, but it's also damn expensive (as many of them are, of course) at around $600.


                  "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

                  by soundchaser on Sun Oct 12, 2008 at 12:59:46 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I appreciate your help.  I'll check in to it.

                    A friend of mine, when I was in Vegas, was a long haul trucker and I reckon it's worse now than in the 80's.  Good luck, get some sleep, and drive safe.  

                    Thanks again,

                    But Holy State (we have lived to learn) Endeth in Holy War. - Kipling

                    by nargel on Sun Oct 12, 2008 at 03:49:44 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No problem... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      and even if that particular program isn't 'the one', I gotta think that what you're looking for is something that would be rather popular, so someone's got to have answered the market demand for it somewhere.

                      As for trucking - in some ways better than the old days, but in some ways much worse. I could go on for hours about what's wrong with the industry, but the #1 thing (that nobody other than some drivers talks about) is the method of pay. I'm lucky (and unionized) in that respect, but really in the minority.

                      Of course, it's a huge generalization on my part, but IMO the biggest downfall of drivers is the general spinelessness of drivers as a group on the whole (and I'm saying that as a driver).

                      "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

                      by soundchaser on Sun Oct 12, 2008 at 04:25:05 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  One of the sad parts of our culture (15+ / 0-)

        is how hard we make it for people to pursue the arts and feed themselves.

        "I believe marriage should be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers." Tina Fey as Palin.

        by fearisthemindkiller on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:09:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You can take some small steps (6+ / 0-)

        getting out of the house; I'm sure you've been over this with mental health professionals (at least I hope so). There are online alternatives for school, if that would help you further your school goals.

        I worry the most about this crippling anxiety you've got going. Have you been diagnosed agoraphobic?

        •  I haven't been diagnosed as agoraphobic... (8+ / 0-)

          ...but then, I wasn't quite the hermit that I am now back when I was in therapy.  Back then I was officially diagnosed with depression, social phobia, OCD traits (but not the full on disorder), and ADHD.

          •  Diagnosis isn't the biggest deal. If (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Valerie, vacantlook, grada3784

            none of the pills work then the big deal is just finding a way to live your life. What life is going to work for you?

            I wish you good luck dealing with this.

            •  Thanks. (7+ / 0-)

              I don't know if there are any meds that would work, but the ones that I've tried haven't.  I've been on Buspar, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Trazadone.  

              The Buspar was for anxiety, but it didn't help; it only made me really dizzy.  More than once I had to lay flat on the floor because of the room spinning.

              The Paxil was for both depression and anxiety, but it didn't help either.  It did cause me to have an increase in mood swings though, which wasn't pleasant for the people around me.

              The Wellbutrin, I was told by the psychiatrist who prescribed it to me, that it was for my ADHD.  This was back before Wellbutrin was advertised on TV, so I didn't know what it was, and so I trusted the psychiatrist.  Then the ads started and I learned it had nothing to do with ADHD but was for antidepressants.  It didn't help either way.

              And the Trazadone, though an antidpressant, was prescribed because of my frequent insomnia.  I have a serious difficulty with sleeping at night.  I think part of it is conditioning; I spent way too many nights being awake late waiting for my drunk father to come home just in case he was violent and my mom and I had to flee the house from him.  There were many nights I'd spend an hour or two standing barefoot in the cold outside hiding in the bushes when my dad started being mean.  So, yeah, I don't sleep at night easily.  And the Trazadone was supposed to help, but one single tiny, tiny pill would knock me out for 14, 16 hours and leave me a zombie the rest of the day.  So a big NO on that one.

              •  I hear you on the medications. (5+ / 0-)

                You've had an interesting life!

                When medications don't work, my feeling is that the anxiety is the core issue and the best way to deal with that is to get in touch with your sense of self. One huge source of anxiety, which I'm sure you've experienced for yourself, is when there is a distance between who you feel like you should be and who you actually are. Religion interferes with this; social norms interfere with this, parents and their philosophies interfere with this--and especially questioning the love you get from your caregivers and your safety as a child, as you had to growing up with your father.

                Directly related to these fears are our abilities to enjoy what we love, find our passions, find a vocation that enriches us, have meaningful relationships...When we live with a protective layer of anxiety it is never our true selves making decisions, but the false ones we build up that have helped us shield ourselves from a crappy environment. People end up sabotaging their own happiness and not really ever figuring out what they want in life because everything gets glossed over by this protective barrier.

                Do you keep a journal? You may not have a pill, but instead just getting deep down into your feelings and figuring out who you really are. It would help with the fear, I think. It doesn't change anything about our personality or our past but we just get more comfortable with it, more comfortable in our own skin. Then we get more comfortable in social settings.

                •  Being ok with who I am... (6+ / 0-)

         a big problem for me.  Even though I've for several years now accepted being attracted to men, there is still definitely a part of me that's hesitant about it.  And not just in sexuality, but there's still other things I feel at odds with in my person, like my having quite college back then and my resulting absolute loss of momentum.  That's why I like stories about characters who struggle with who they are, like the final four episodes (especially, not to discount the other episodes though) of Avatar The Last Airbender.

                  Spoilers ahead: don't read if you want to watch the show yourself and not be spoiled about the ending.

                  In the four part series finale at the end of the third season, the main character, Aang, struggles with how it's his responsibility to confront the leader of a country that plans on literally incinerating another country in a bid for global domination after having already decimated the rest of the world.  Everyone expects Aang to kill that leader, but Aang, having been raised by monks who taught him to believe that killing is bad, doesn't feel like he can do it.  He feels the weight of the world expecting him to do so.  Aang, being the so called Avatar, has been reincarnated thousands of times over the years, so he even consults four of his past lives looking for advice and wisdom about how to deal with it, but all four leave him feeling like he's going to have to find a way to make himself kill the leader.  During the course of his final battle with the Fire Lord, Aang's body is taken over by the combined mind of all the past Avatars, and Aang nearly kills the Fire Lord, but he reasserts himself, and refuses to kill him.  Instead he uses an ability that an ancient being taught him that's extremely personally dangerous to Aang in order to remove the Fire Lord's ability to firebend, thus making the Fire Lord as weak as any other nonbending human, and thus not a threat (given that the Fire Lord's son, who's finally become friends with Aang after a year of antagonism, has assumed the throne of the Fire Nation).

                  In the end, Aang solves the battle through being himself and standing up for his own principles.  Stories like that really appeal to me.

              •  Welbutrin is also used for ADD (5+ / 0-)

                So, not necessarily any deception going on there, although it doesn't sound like you were given a lot of information to go by.  Welbutrin is also used to help people quit smoking.

                One thing that can only help (and it's proven to help with ADD and depression) is regular, significant exercise.  If you have no equipment and can't go outdoors (to start), just start with calisthenics.  The goal is to get your heart rate up for at least half an hour.

                Universal Health Care - it's coming, but not soon enough!

                by DrFood on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:48:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Exercise is definitely a problem for me... (8+ / 0-)

         that I don't do anywhere near enough of it.  I have such significant mental inertia to overcome, that I have such a hard time making myself get up and do some exercise.  I'm hoping that with the weather getting cooler now that it's turning autumn, and then eventually into winter, that I'll be able to make myself get outside more and if nothing else just go for long walks.  I'd love to get myself back into yoga and doing the several hundred abdominal crunches each day that I used to do.  I'd also really like to take up some form of martial arts.  I've always liked the idea -- well, not the learning how to kill someone part, but the intricate movement patterns.

                  •  Don't hope for it, don't wait for the weather (5+ / 0-)

                    to change, change your attitude (about exercise) and just do it - I promise you can. Apologies for the cheesy platitudes, but it wasn't until I returned to regular, significant exercise that I realized how depressed I had been for years. I had been diagnosed with panic attacks, but I honestly didn't know I was depressed until I started to come out of it, which was about 4 months after I started working out. I don't know that it will ease your anxiety/depression, but please try. Exercise is a safe place to start proving to yourself that you are powerful and capable. It is work to exercise every day. Real, actual work, and it is work to find something that you enjoy enough to do daily. I can't say that it's helped me get over my family problems or my problems with the religion that shaped my life for better and worse. But I can say that it's helped me realize I am worth taking care of. The rewards are well worth the effort!

                    You're a great writer, and an obviously kind soul...we could use more people like you at VCU ;)

                    "I said no deal; you can't sell this stuff to me" - Townes Van Zandt

                    by btrflisoul on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 02:01:32 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Start small, make yourself a promise (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sobermom, grrr, vacantlook

                    ...and then keep it.  Don't go overboard, but how about fifty crunches a day for a week?  How about ten?  Make an achievable goal, even what seems like a ridiculously small goal.  After you accomplish the first goal, it will help you move forward towards the next one.  I'm reminded of a busy woman who was trying to finish her Ph.D. dissertation.  She confronted the voice inside that said there was "no time" and decided to commit to just fifteen minutes every night on her dissertation.  It worked.

                    You've sunk into a hole, for some very good reasons.  You can't choose your family, God knows you can't choose your sexual orientation, but you can choose how to respond to what life throws at you.  Yoga is a great idea, especially the breathing exercises.  Studying a martial art could be a great idea as well, but you need to have a good teacher.  (Good as in a good person.)

                    Sorry to be in and out of this conversation--I'm struggling with my own inertia to get a whole stack of work done, so I'm trying to stay away from DKos.

                    Universal Health Care - it's coming, but not soon enough!

                    by DrFood on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 03:14:20 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Try to find an Aikido dojo near you. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I have a little experience with Karate and Aikido, and the latter has nicer crowds. Also, Aikido official philosophy is about harmony,and absorbing the other guys strength, not about breaking him. Also, if you are an Aikidoka, you can always go to another dojo, when you are traveling, and you are welcome to train with them (I understand that this is not a possibility for you right now, but one can have dreams, yes?)

                    In fact I think martial arts would be much better than the abdominal crunches. It does something for your  physical and mental health.

                •  I'm really in agreement with exercise (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  using small steps if needed - just get your heart rate up a bit for 20 minutes 3-4/week (assuming you're healthy and don't have heart disease, of course). It may take a while to build up your tolerance, but that's OK.

                  Re wellbutrin, I've seen many people become more anxious on it. A serotoninergic drug with therapy may be more useful. A classis SSRI - prozac/zoloft/celexa could work. Buspar MIGHT help. If the above meds fail, effexor might be worth a try. Talk to your primary provider about meds if you can't afford a psychiatrist and find a therapist.

                  These are of course, just suggestions - I don't Really KNOW...Good luck to you, Vacantlook...

                  McCain insisted [no union member] would [pick lettuce for $50/hour] for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

                  by grrr on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:46:51 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  oops (0+ / 0-)

                    Remeron is a great drug for anxiety and depression too...except that it can cause wt gain...but it often isn't tried and can be quite useful.

                    McCain insisted [no union member] would [pick lettuce for $50/hour] for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

                    by grrr on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:49:19 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  one more afterthought (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      Dr Food is right that wellbutrin may be helpful for ADHD -sorry it didn;t help you.

                      McCain insisted [no union member] would [pick lettuce for $50/hour] for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

                      by grrr on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:51:27 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not a psychiatrist (8+ / 0-)

                but I am a therapist who specializes in treating trauma.  I will say that a number of my clients with symptoms of hyperarousal and panic attacks have had success with beta blockers to treat those symptoms.  Medications to treat PTSD are different than those to treat generalized anxiety symptoms.  It is essential that you have both a decent psychopharm consult and a decent psychosocial evaluation in order to get you an accurate diagnosis in order to determine what medications would be more effective.  

                For what it's worth, Wellbutrin has also been used to treat OCD symptoms with some success.  But, again, if one is looking only at the secondary symptoms then the medication is less likely to be effective.  So accurate diagnosis is crucial.

                From a personal prospective, your story touched me deeply and brought tears to my eyes.  You have been through so much.  If it helps any, I like to think of the 20s as the time to get the bad relationships out of the way.  My niece was complaining to me that her father is much too strict with her especially with boys.  I said that she could blame her aunties for that because between the four girls in the family my brother had seen every loser imaginable walk through the door.  We were magnets for, or we were magnetically attracted to, every bad news guy in New England.  And then two of my sisters took the show on the road to California in order to expand their experience with jerks.  Fortunately two of us are settled down somewhat happily--probably not a coincidence that it is the sober two.

                In other words, you didn't do anything wrong and you weren't being punished by God when you ended up in a relationship with someone not worthy of you.  I think that if you were less isolated you would have known that everyone has a few of those in their past.  It's part of life.  So try not to beat yourself up over it.  You learned some valuable lessons--now you know that your instincts are good and that you need to pay attention to that voice inside when it tells you to get away from someone.  And you know a bit more about what you want and don't want in a guy.  Try not to punish yourself over a bad relationship.  We'd all still be single if we let a bad relationship determine the rest of our lives.

                What you've been through, as a young child, a teen, and a young adult is a nightmare.  And it makes sense that you would only feel safe in an environment that is under your control.  But there is a whole world out there waiting for you and it needs you and the contributions you can bring.

                I think this diary shows an incredible amount of insight, courage, and strength.  The world needs people like you in it moving us forward.   Please consider looking into specialized services, and yes I know that it is really hard to try therapy again when you've had mixed results in the past.  If you need the names of specialists or teaching hospitals in your area then email me and I will look into it for you.

                You are exactly the kind of person our world needs right now.  And you deserve all of the wonderful gifts that life has to offer.

                Here's some simple advice: Always be yourself. Never take yourself too seriously. And beware of advice from experts, pigs, and members of Parliament. Kermit

                by sobermom on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:31:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I'm a bit concerned (6+ / 0-)

            that you weren't helped by medication.  It often takes a while to find the right med or combination of meds.  I struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life as well.  I resisted the idea of medication.

            And I always blamed my emotional challenges on external factors.  If I found the right job, if I lived someplace better, if I could find a good man to love, I told myself, I would be fine.

            But then, 8 years ago, having moved to a wonderful city, having found a terrific job, and having fallen in love with the man I would eventually marry, I had one of the worst episodes of depression I ever experienced.  That was when I knew.

            I started with Paxil and it helped, then later migrated to Prozac because of the "sexual side effects" and was much better.  Then I added a small dose of Trazodone nightly to help me calm down and fall asleep easier at bedtime.

            The last time I visited my therapist for a routine meds check, I completed the D-Arkansas questionaire, and my honest answers showed absolutely NO signs of depression or anxiety.  And this is after being unemployed for the past 10 months.

            The meds don't fix what's wrong in your life; they just fix what's not working properly in your brain chemistry so that you can perceive the world with a correctly functioning mind.

            Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.

            by abrauer on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:10:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Paxil gave me the sexual side effects too... (5+ / 0-)

              ...especially when my psychiatrist at the time upped the dosage because of my psychologist's having diagnosed me with OCD traits.

              I really didn't like that psychiatrist.  He was always late -- and I mean LATE.  I never got to see him until at least an hour after my scheduled appointment time.  And I don't trust him to have believed a word I ever said.  He even started one meeting with the statement, "Well, what new disorders have we added to the list this month?"  It felt very condescending to me.

              •  Trust your instincts on that (8+ / 0-)

                and get a different psychiatrist.  Even if he's a perfectly fine doctor and you're oversensitive, which I doubt is the case, having suspicions on both sides is not conducive to an effective relationship.  You need to feel that the people you're working with get you and are interested in your well being.  It didn't go well for you when you ignored your instincts on the ex-boyfriend.  Have faith in your instincts.

                Here's some simple advice: Always be yourself. Never take yourself too seriously. And beware of advice from experts, pigs, and members of Parliament. Kermit

                by sobermom on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:35:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sobermom is exactly right (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sobermom, vacantlook, cville townie

                  I belong to Kaiser Permanente, and they have great programs for people with mental health challenges that combine medication, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy classes and educational programs.

                  It's a disease with many components and you need to address all of them.

                  The most insidious thing about depression is that it influences your thinking in ways that feed it and help it grow.

                  It convinces you to withdraw from other people, when interaction with others is one of the best treatments for depression.

                  It convinces you to feel hopeless, when feeling hopeful is one of the best treatments for depression.

                  It convinces you to stay indoors and hide, when being outdoors in the sunshine and being active is one of the best treatments for depression.

                  Find a better doctor, someone to whom you can relate, someone who accepts you and is supportive of you as a gay man, and stick with it.

                  Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.

                  by abrauer on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:06:29 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Second the "find a different psychiatrist" (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vacantlook, julifolo

                and while you're at it, unless your psychiatrist also does  counseling worth a sh*t (some do, some don't), find a therapist (clinical psychologist) as well, maybe even find one first.

                I don't know exactly what part of central VA you're in (I'm in Charlottesville). Even though I grew up in a (way too small) liberal enclave in VA, I never felt people would be comfortable with my orientation, and I denied it for a long time, only coming out to myself in college, and my parents much later. However, there are a lot of good therapists and professionals in the more liberal towns even though the society as a whole is still pretty oppressive, and as someone else here said, you might want to look for someone in Charlottesville or Richmond. I found a very good therapist in Charlottesville who has helped me deal with everything from anger issues to coming out to my parents, and I wish I'd done it sooner.

                As far as education, your big choice would be whether to remain in VA and take advantage of the tuition now, or move somewhere else and work long enough to get residency there. If your high school or previous college grades were bad, you might want to look at a transfer program starting with community college. The problem there is that you should still wait to go until you are ready, as your GPA from that point will matter quite a bit. While you will find a lot of like minds and support at a place like JMU, UVa, or VCU, you would have to stick it out for at least 2 years before you get there, so you might want to find some moral support outside of school first. (I'd be more cautious about VT or GMU but they likely don't have the programs you want anyway.)

                I decided a while back that there is no way I'm staying in Virginia for the long run. If you make the same choice, and at some point you are looking to move somewhere, I would recommend a state where discrimination is illegal in employment, at the very least; one of the dark purple or dark blue states on that map would be ideal, although some cities in other states (such as Philly and Pittsburgh in PA) also have enforcable non-discrimination laws.

                Now, I am not a doctor nor any other mental health professional. Everything I am telling you here is from personal experience, and you should see a psych that you can trust as soon as you can. But this guy was exceptionally rude and unprofessional to you, and he wasn't doing his job besides. The entries in the DSM-IV describe syndromes which have clear enough symptoms that they can be isolated, but they don't individually describe what is wrong or causing problems for any person. Most mental illness is best described as a complex which exhibits definable symptoms of several different diagnosable disorders. And it is all tied in with other experiences that you would be best off getting some therapy as well as pills.

                It is possible (but not by any means certain) given your experience on Paxil that you have some variety of bipolar, but there are many different kinds of bipolar and ways it can be expressed. The problem with this is that some psychiatrists consider bipolar to be dangerous, like schizophrenia. This is why it is especially important you find a doctor that you personally trust, and more importantly someone who understands and believes that whatever condition you have can be overcome to live a fulfilling life. You should be able to raise any condition that you might think you have with them and get a professional opinion.

                (btw, I was also on Buspar at one point for "anxiety" which was really depression, and it did nothing for me other than a lot of side effects.)

                John McCain: Untested, untried, unreasonable, and unpresidential. Thank you General Clark!

                by cville townie on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:34:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  My problem with these medications (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              4Freedom, cville townie

              is that we are depressed for some damn good reasons.  Our society is completely screwed in so many ways.

              Is it "better" to take a pill that helps us accept our circumstances than to be depressed and anxious and to struggle through to a change in our circumstances?

              I imagine a tiger in a cage; his life is better with pills.  But he only needs the pills because tigers don't belong in cages.

              Healing the universe is an inside job.

              by spotDawa on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:01:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I take it from your comments (3+ / 0-)

                that you don't live with clinical depression.  And that you didn't read, or appreciate, anything I wrote, especially the final paragraph of my comment.

                Taking these medications doesn't make me think our society is not "screwed up in so many ways," or tranquilize me into tolerating the injustices of the world.

                Taking these medications allows the organ, through which I process the outside world and make decisions about how to respond to it, function better.

                It is because I take these medications that I am out on the street organizing for Obama, making phone calls and posting to the web about the opportunity he presents to improve the world, instead of lying in bed moaning with the covers pulled over my head.

                Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.

                by abrauer on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:00:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Look into distance learning (5+ / 0-)

        Just about every college these days has a virtual Web-based program through which you can earn complete degrees or just take a few classes. Many of them don't ever require you to step foot in a classroom, while some want you to go to a class once or a couple times a semester. Plus, libraries now offer so many research sources via Internet that you hardly need to go anywhere to work on your studies. Although, as a librarian, I have to say I'd be sad if you didn't go to the library once in a while. ;-)

        Don't trust any UID over [insert current highest number here].

        by pattyp on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:26:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The only problem I have with that... (5+ / 0-)

 my internet.  I don't have broadband.  My dialup is limited to 28.8 (thank you stupid ass Verizon, who controls the phoneline infrastructure around here).  The only broadband option I know of is satellite, and that'd require wiring that we don't currently have to be installed, and my mom's uncomfortable with allowing an installation technician access to our attic and basement to do so (cause they're kind of dirty and messy).  So, for right now at least, it's not an option.  But maybe in the future sometime, I hope.

          I have seen some ads for a thumbdrive size device that AT&T is bringing out now that allows for mobile internet access.  I don't know what the costs are of that form of service, but it might be an option I'll look into eventually.  Especially considering that my cellphone service is AT&T already (after they bought out Cingular, after Cingular bought out Suncom, which was my original cell company).

      •  Maybe just some nature walks would help? (8+ / 0-)

        I had a very abusive father, too, and getting out in nature was healing, until I found a great therapist who could help me.

        Also, the right college could be so helpful! My oldest daughter goes to Harvey Mudd College in LA, which is noted for being extremely "gay tolerant". Although straight herself, she just went on their field trip to Disneyland's "Gay Day", where gays wore red, and straight people wore, well, anything else. She had the time of her life! And btw saw the student body president of her former HS there as well--in red! They chatted, and he seemed so happy.

        My youngest daughter is a member of the Gay-Straight alliance in her High School. Here in California, young people are very aware of the attacks on gays civil rights, and most seem upset and bewildered by the intolerance. She is also straight, but has taken this issue to heart, in support of her friends.

        My mother and I were noting how many more young people seem to be gay now...and of course, the percentage hasn't changed! What has changed is that young people are allowed to be themselves--at least some places. It is very, very common here.

        In other words, may I suggest a geographic cure? College elsewhere might be very healing! Or just a move.

        •  Congratulations to you... (5+ / 0-)

          ...on being such a good parent to help teach your children to be so caring and accepting.

          You're totally right about nature walks.  I do love walking in nature, especially when it's cold.  So with autumn coming on now and then the lovely coldness of winter, I hope to get outside more, especially considering that I live on a relatively big farm.  There's lots of land I can walk and not have to deal with being around anyone.  Pop my ipod on and go at it is definitely something I should do more often.

      •  About school ... (7+ / 0-)

        First, thanks for posting this and letting us know your story. And kudos to you for having the courage to be honest about who you were, even in the face of such opposition.

        As far as school goes, I would encourage you not to get stuck thinking you have to figure it all out before you go back. There are a few people who know what they want to do/be professionally, and those people can pursue that path unswervingly; for the rest of us, it's a bit more complicated. Taking a variety of classes can be one of the best ways of figuring out what you might want to do.

        I understand your financial concerns; is there a community college nearby, or one that has online classes? Community college is still pretty inexpensive, and you could take just one class at a time to keep costs low. If there's a campus nearby, that might also be a way to practice being outside in small doses.

        Whatever you do, I encourage you to hang in there and not give up hope for healing and change. As The Zipper says, small steps are helpful. If you find yourself with any desire to go to church, there are a number of denominations that are welcoming to gay people; if not, there may be other organizations in the area that you can connect with over shared interests.

        Good luck! And keep us posted.

        We seek not rest but transformation. - Marge Piercy

        by Leslie in CA on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:31:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Seems to me (6+ / 0-)

        you're a thoughtful, reflective person who would do well with some support. The story you described reminds me of a number of people I know with similar stories - a good therapist + antidepressants made a huge difference and they are now doing well (though it did take a while...) Can't claim I KNOW this would help you, but based on what you've written, I think it would...Thanks for your courage.

        McCain insisted [no union member] would [pick lettuce for $50/hour] for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

        by grrr on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:45:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  self help books (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sobermom, grada3784

        Have you ever heard of "Feeling Good" (for depression), or "When Panic Attacks" (for anxiety), by Dr. David Burns?

        They are based on cognitive therapy, and I've found them very helpful.

        •  I think I've heard of Feeling Good... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...but I'm not sure about When Panic Attacks.

          There was some book for anxiety disorders that I bought way back when I first started therapy -- at the time with just a counselor.  She was so unhelpful.  She had me bring the book in for her to look at so she could buy a copy.  She would then assign me "homework" readings from it; thing is, I had already read the entire thing.  So when she would do things like ask me if I had any questions about the reading, and I'm responded, "The chapter on meditation doesn't actually explain how one goes about meditating," she replies with, "Would you like me to lead you through a meditation," and I'm like, "Sure", she then went on to read word-for-word from that very book.  It's like, um, reading to me what I've already read myself is not helpful, but I didn't say that to her because I felt I would be rude if I did so.

          She was kind of loopy in other ways too.  During our first session, she asked me if I had ever been sexually abused.  I understand having to ask that.  But when I answered, "No," she responded with, "I'm a little concerned with how quickly you answered that."  Ugh.  And then there was the time she went on vacation, so we didn't have a session during that time, and when she got back she asked me if I was ok, I was like yeah, thinking that she just mean in general, and then she said, "Because sometimes patients get upset when their therapists go away on vacation."  I felt like saying, "Woman, you are not that damn important," but of course I didn't.

          •  Yikes (0+ / 0-)

            She sounds like she was a new therapist or an intern because people who have been practicing for a while don't behave that way.

            Here's some simple advice: Always be yourself. Never take yourself too seriously. And beware of advice from experts, pigs, and members of Parliament. Kermit

            by sobermom on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:15:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  worth a try? (0+ / 0-)

            The book ("Feeling Good") is older, and really long.  I found his new book about anxiety very similar to "Feeling Good", and since that is your major concern, maybe the "Panic Attacks" book would be a better read.

            I like his (Burns) way of writing, and how he describes the "mental arguments" that we all have with ourselves.  He sets up scenarios where someone is really down on themselves (they've failed at something, lost their job, etc.) and see themselves as a total loser, and then he explains all the reasons why these self-held beliefs are invalid, and shows systematically what "cognitive distortions" that are in effect.

            That therapist sounds like she was a horrible match for you!  Don't give up.      

            "This One" is votin' for "That One".

            by sallys on Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 12:08:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  re: college (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sobermom, vacantlook

        I imagine you've already thought about this, but check out online options.  At least for the lower division courses.  It's cheaper and easy, and judging from the fact that you like to read and write you can probably handle the 'independent' learning style that is required.

        Many universities now offer fully accredited courses through online extension programs.  I knwo the University of IL does, and I bet UV has something, or even your local community college.

        Mountain State University in WV is popular with people in the military because it is flexible and nearly all classes will transfer to other accredited universities.

        Check 'em out; you never know.

        "That one" is singular for "those people".

        by grasshopper on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:06:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for telling your story (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks, but no thanks, to the McCain/Palin ticket to nowhere.

    by Castine on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:49:00 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting this (20+ / 0-)

    So much agony caused by the fiction that gay people can somehow "make" ourselves straight.  I'm glad your ex-girlfriend was there to be supportive, and that your mom and sister have come around.

    Please believe the depression and anxiety CAN get better.  It's not caused by your being gay, but by a lifetime of rejection and fear.  Don't give up on getting help for it, even if the medication didn't work.

    And if there's a gay-supportive church in your area (like Metropolitan Community Church), you'll find other people who went throught the same journey you did with Christianity, and found that God loves them exactly as they are.  If even sitting alone in the back is too much for your agoraphobia, maybe you could start with just calling the pastor.  And please keep posting here - there are lots of us.

    You can't unring my wedding bells - NO ON 8!

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:49:02 AM PDT

  •  Thank you so much for sharing. (11+ / 0-)

    My best wishes to you.

    Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

    by cruz on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:49:06 AM PDT

  •  Thanks so much for OUTing! ((((((((hugs))))))))) (12+ / 0-)

    It's so great OUT here!

  •  I'm gay. (24+ / 0-)

    I will be 50 on November 23, and I came out when I was 21, so that 29 years of out life.  

  •  good for you (9+ / 0-)

    for being brave!  
    and may a good guy materialize who'll treat you right.

    by decafdyke on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:49:49 AM PDT

  •  I read "A New Earth" last year - it helped (13+ / 0-)

    with some of my own anxieties.

    Cindy McCain is so cold, Eskimos have 150 words for her - Stephen Colbert

    by Sarah Pawlenty on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:49:58 AM PDT

  •  {{{{VancantLook}}}} (30+ / 0-)

    Speaking as a PFLAG mom, I can tell you with all my heart - all those people were wrong. You are wonderful and lovable.

    I am a shy person, but I have given speeches at several coming out day rallies as an ally. I always say that if your family tells you that you're not what they wanted, it's okay to tell them that they are not what you were hoping for, either. You can still love them, but if they are toxic, limit your contact.

    Then go out and find a family. Make your own. Surround yourself with people who love you and value you.  

    They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol

    by 1864 House on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:50:14 AM PDT

  •  So familiar (28+ / 0-)

    I'm also 29 and came out at 19. Although I didn't want to come out and it wasn't by choice.

    There were a lot of tears shed here, too, but I think they were all by me.

    Perhaps later tonight I'll tell my story as well, but I don't feel quite as courageous as you today. Thinking about it, even now, I get sick to my stomach and my eyes start burning.

    I'm glad that it gets easier for each generation.

    "money may buy death, pain and even administration of torture but.... it won't buy patriots. -edscan

    by BoiseBlue on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:51:00 AM PDT

  •  Dude, I'm *bald*. (50+ / 0-)

    I actually said that to a colleague when he came out to me last year.

    We all knew he was gay when we hired him: he writes on "masculinities and homosexualities" in film. But nobody cared. He's a devoted teacher, serves cheerfully on committees, and publishes like a demon. If he felt more comfortable in the closet, we had to respect his choice, and we did.

    Now that he's got tenure he is much more comfortable in his own skin. The best part is that he knows I'm cool with him being gay... and I know he's cool with me being bald.

    But who grants absolution
    For sins that never were committed?

    by gp39m on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:52:48 AM PDT

  •  Only in America could you be facing (12+ / 0-)

    the wrath of so many people who have no understanding of who you are, and who hold ill will for you based on nothing you've ever done but are presumed to do, and meanwhile the two abusive alcoholic fathers would not be the focus of the story.

    I hope this country comes to it's senses that we don't always need one group of people for a scapegoat to distract us from all the real problems we deny having.

    Best wishes to you.

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:53:42 AM PDT

    •  way to support him (13+ / 0-)

      just to be clear, other places are far worse (i still recommend your comment)

      hope hope hope hope hope. feels good

      by jockoftexas on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:09:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I agree (9+ / 0-)

        There are a few places better than the US when it comes to equality, but there are still a lot of countries that would not accept my girlfriend and I living together openly. So while we're not where we need to be, we're certainly not that bad off considering gays and lesbians are still being executed in other countries.

        "money may buy death, pain and even administration of torture but.... it won't buy patriots. -edscan

        by BoiseBlue on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:17:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  George Bernard Shaw once said that "A reasonable (0+ / 0-) bends to adapt himself to the world around him. An unreasonable man persists in bending the world around him to his will.


        All progress is only made by unreasonable men".

        Now - I do not direct this comment to you in particular, becasue I understand the sentiment you were aiming for - provided you understand mine.

        In his day, Galileo Galilei was the greatest scientist of his day. As much as that is a true statement, I would not want to say that forward progress on scientific matters should have ceased simply because he was better than all the rest.

        It's a fine distinction, but as I am the son of an alcoholic, a man who was also a four-pack a day smoker who spent the last eight years making co-payments on a $400,000 pair of surgeries to have his face carved apart and his tongue cut out to save his life from cancer. So it's hard for me to look at all the damage caused by smoking and drinking and submit to the Right Wing point of view that the real threat to the country is two guys or two women who want to get married. The point I'm trying to make is we are proud and content with ourselves at our own expense.

        I only tried to point out the irony.

        Just because we are better than the rest doesn't mean we're perfect - and as such, I'm going to be as angry, indignant, and intense about objecting to our current set of problems as our ancestors were about fixing theres.

        I was merely pointing out the irony that the Republican party and the churches who support it would come down like a ton of bricks on our diarist and have very little to say about the abuse of his alcoholic father, since that's all part of his father's "liberty" to drink.

        Alcohol, Tobacco, firearms and Automobile accidents kill more people in this country than all other causes put together, and we have people who are intent on "saving the country" by banning gay marriage and objecting to laws that protect gay people from being assaulted and discriminated against. That is a perverse set of priorities.

        If jumping up and down and screaming "Bullshit" is forbidden because I'm somehow not acknowledging that America is a better country than others while still being imperfect,

        ...well, then why bother waking up in the morning.

        If they had that attitude in 1776 we would have said that the King of England treated us better than other leaders treated their citizens and just kept paying the taxes and be grateful.

        In 1865 we could have said that since slavery was OK with the 1789 crowd who had given us what we had at the time, so therefore slavery should be good enough for the rest of time.

        I don't mean to drive this one into the ground because it's a fine point and I don't think you meant to imply that all forward progress should stop -

        however, we can be the best and still not be flawless. And if we agree on that, then there is no shame in keeping up the fight to keep making things better.

        That's my point.

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:26:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Being Gay is not the person you are (13+ / 0-)

    You are the person who is gay

  •  Gay, black, green, hetero, Asian, Arab, Martian, (20+ / 0-)

    atheist & believers, it's all good. It's only the Palinesque brigade that would posit otherwise.

    Excellent diary.

  •  {{{vacantlook}}} (21+ / 0-)

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Please know that there are people, even here, on this blog, that are rooting for you and thinking about you.

    Someone upthread posted about maybe finding solace in an accepting church - that might be one thing you could do.

    Partner™ and I will be thinking of you.  :)

    Now 100% tchotchkee-free. That's right. No tchotchkes.

    by Texas Blue Dot on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 07:58:49 AM PDT

  •  I look forward to a world, one day, (17+ / 0-)

    where a person's quest for love, companionship and sexual fulfillment will be nobody's business but their own.
    I'm touched by your past pain and guilt, but it is way past time for you to move on.  GO back to school.  MOVE somewhere you feel more comfortable.  Don't just be gay, be happy.

    If we want peace, why do we give weapons and call it "aid"?

    by gdwtch52 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:01:10 AM PDT

  •  alas (8+ / 0-)

    we live in a fractured world

    "Better faithful than famous"

    by hypekiller on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:04:13 AM PDT

  •  I look forward to the day when a person's (18+ / 0-)

    sexual preference is not worth a diary.

    Thank you for telling your story.

    As Pierre Trudeau once said "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation".

    John McCain's vision: Having your own steamgrate to sleep on between shifts on your two jobs.

    by captainlaser on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:06:25 AM PDT

  •  You can help turn (10+ / 0-)

    Virginia a lovely shade of rainbow blue.

    Oh, and welcome to the world out of the closet ... nice fresh air, huh?  Sorry bout that stock market crash.

    •  I'm not good at helping with campaigning... (6+ / 0-)

      ...given my social anxiety and near hermit life, but I do override my anxiety long enough to run out and vote.  Voted for Kerry in '04, Tim Kaine in '05, and Jim Webb in '06.  '07 was local elections and I didn't have any in my specific district other than Sheriff, I think, and I didn't know anything about either of the candidates for that to feel like my vote would be anything other than a random guess on a multiple choice test.  I'm definitely voting for Obama next month, as well as for Warner for Senate, and whoever the Democratic candidate for the House regardless of not knowing anything about her because Eric Cantor, my current Representative, is damn crazy.

      •  How about phonebanking? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grada3784, means are the ends

        You can do it right from your home.  It might be a nice way to work on that hermit thing without having to go too far out of your comfort zone.  PLUS you might sway enough votes to put Obama over the top in your district!

        •  Using the phone scares me crazy. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          For example, a couple weeks back, I had order some clothes online.  But there was some problem with some their system and some of the sizes didn't get included with the order information.  So the company emails me and tells me to call their customer service to fix the problem.  After reading that, I had a 90 minute (no exaggeration)panic attack.  Hell, I still even slightly freak out whenever I call my best friend, and I've been talking to her on the phone for ten years (for many hours at a time; our longest phone conversation was 12 hours once).

          •  Hope you can get some help with that. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peggy, vacantlook

            Doesn't sound like that much fun to be so alone.

          •  Sometimes I'm afraid of phones & mail (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I do the tied up in the house business, but everytime I get a lttle on top of things I burst outside.
            Personally, I'd recommend therapy and pharmaceuticals.

            However, it takes a lot of searching to find a good therapist, many years sometimes. The first drug tried won't necessarily work, nor the second, but finding one (or two) that work is an enormous comfort.

            my best wishes and thanks for an insightful story

  •  keep your head up. keep walking. (23+ / 0-)

    good for you. the first step is telling the truth about your situation.

    reading your story reminded me of my own childhood. i was raised by ex-missionaries on the outskirts of lawton, oklahoma. i went to a one-room school until 4th grade and was frequently brought to tent-meetings where i was told "bed-time stories" about the coming of the end times. they said that one of the ways that you could tell whether or not you were a sheep (going to heaven) or a goat (the other place) was to take a mouthful of water. for those going to heaven, the water would remain water. for the other folks, it would turn to blood.

    as a young child, i knew i was gay, and i knew that meant i was going to go to hell. so whenever i went to the drinking fountain and didn't end up with a mouthful of blood, i thought, 'well i guess the end times haven't come yet.'

    i lived a pretty self-destructive life. i knew that if people found out about my sexuality they would abandon me, loathe me, revile me. i mean, if god couldn't find his way to love a gay kid, then how could the imperfect human attempt such a thing? i alienated myself from my parents, told lies almost pathologically, and generally behaved as if i had no future. why make an effort if you know the end result, no matter what else you do, is hell?

    i didn't come out to my parents until i was 30. and luckily for me, they were awesome. my mom said to me, 'now do you believe in unconditional love?' and crying, i stammered, 'it's hard to believe in that when you've seen so many people lose there loved ones over their sexuality.' my mom began to cry and shook me and said, 'well do you at least know better now?'

    my father, for whom i am named, said, 'son, your mother and i love you and are proud of you.'

    it was the hardest thing i ever did, coming out to my parents. and it was the best thing i have ever done for my heart. my mother once said that she didn't want me to be gay because it would be such a hard life for me because of other peoples' perceptions of gay men. i told her, 'if i knew you were in my corner, that you loved me, it wouldn't matter what anyone else might say or do to me. what makes it hard is not what other people say, it's what the people you love most say.'

    i'm 37 now. i've left the religion of my childhood behind. i've left the towns of my childhood behind. and, thank the stars above, i have left the fear and shame and disabling self-hatred behind. i have a loving, wonderful partner who has helped me to heal many of the wounds that fundamentalist religion has inflicted upon me. i have friends who see me for what i am, warts and all, and love me for it. and i have a family who loves and is proud of me.

    if you had asked the person i was at 27 if such a thing was possible, i would have laughed in your face and probably insulted you to boot.

    all i can say to you is this: keep your head up. keep walking away from those who would hold you down. if you're not happy, you have the power to make a change. follow your heart.

    to you and to all of us who have suffered this debilitating hatred, i am proud of you for continuing to reach towards the light. i love you for hungering for love while being fed on hatred.

    all ways.

  •  There's nothing "vacant" about you (18+ / 0-)

    You are a beautiful person and perfect as God made you.

    Your painful experience has matured you and strengthened you in ways you may not be able to appreciate.

    You have infinite power.

    You have so much to offer the world.

    Don't let the bastards get you down.

    And in June, this 51 year old gay man married his domestic partner, the man I had dreamed of finding until he came into my life 8 years ago.

    Your time is coming.

    Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.

    by abrauer on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:07:26 AM PDT

    •  Heh heh, regarding my screenname... (5+ / 0-) comes from a quote from one of my favorite tv shows, Babylon 5.  There's a scene in the fifth season in which one of the alien ambassadors is trying to get a case of special alcohol through customs without having to wait the mandatory amount of time all foodstuffs are required to go through.  In arguing with the head of security about it, the ambassador says:

      "You have that vacant look in your eyes that says, 'Hold my head to your ear: you will hear the sea!'"

  •  Thank you for sharing your painful (12+ / 0-)

    story. I look forward to a world in which we can accept people's sexual orientation. I am so sorry for all the hard times you have experienced.

  •  we're proud of you (16+ / 0-)

    you're tough, and you do us proud that you're here with us.

    as for the anxiety, don't give up on meds.  sometimes it takes years to find the right med or combination of meds.  they're different for everybody.  lately, anti-seizure meds are showing to have some unexpected benefits treating anxiety and depression.

    beyond that, as far as the emotional damage that was inflicted on you, it will never be gone.  but it will get better, a little at a time.  it wouldn't surprise me at all if you had undiagnosed PTSD, from what you describe.

    lastly, i hope you won't be offended when i tell you that the God i know loves you tremendously and always will.  to share love with another soul is never, ever a sin.


    by the disinfector on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:08:48 AM PDT

    •  Ditto on PTSD and meds (8+ / 0-)

      I think a new classification is coming from the APA in time: PRTSD -- Post Repetitive Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not all PTSD happens from a single traumatic event or defined period like war, at least that's the argument. Treatment for this related condition is basically the same.

      And yes re: anti-seizures, although that's not necessarily targeting anxiety, which remains the big target of the benzodiazepenes usually in conjunction with SSRIs. FWIW.

      It's just dangerous as hell when people who need medical care like this just give up on treatment. Unfortunately these conditions can take years to accurately diagnose and optimally treat.

      "I have a bracelet, too."

      by TX Unmuzzled on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:19:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have sometimes wondered about PTSD. (5+ / 0-)

      Hearing the stories of the many veterans who suffer from it, I related to a lot of what they describe.  But I've always felt like I was being too presumptuous and disrespectful of veterans to think my problems are anything near as bad as what they've had to endure.

      •  textbook (6+ / 0-)

        planning escape routes, generalized social anxiety, fear of crowds...  textbook PTSD.  my cousin was in an abusive marriage for several years and will be recovering from PTSD for several more.


        by the disinfector on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:27:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Planning escape routes? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WisVoter, grada3784

          Sounds like me in a store.  For years, I'll make note of specific areas of the store that have the lowest level of foot traffic so I can go there if I get overwhelmed.  In the local grocery stores, it's usually either the dog and cat food isle or the clothing soap isle, or in Target it's the modular furniture and curtain/towels section. And whenever I'm in a high traffic area, like clothing, I'm always watching everyone who walks by not just to see them but to know which direction they're going, if they're moving away or heading toward me; I try to notice what they're looking at so I can anticipate if they might continue their looking on racks that are closer to me, and if I think so, I'll often move elsewhere.

      •  You sound a lot like me in my 20s (6+ / 0-)

        I spent six years in intensive treatment for PTSD when I was in my 20s, without meds because my body doesn't tolerate them well.

        I was also raised in a violent, abusive home and many of the things you describe sound a lot like me as a young adult.

        I'm now in my early 40s and I've been symptom-free for, wow, twelve years!!

        It took a while to find the right person to work with, and things got worse before they got better, but it was so worth it to get the rest of my life back.

        Best of luck to you!!

        "Impeachment is the cure for a constitutional crisis." -- John Nichols

        by Kascade Kat on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:47:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  PTSD occurs in people of all ages (6+ / 0-)

        and doesn't rank traumas on a scale of deserving to not-deserving.  And not to denigrate veterans in any way, but you could also turn that around.  Veterans are older adolescents, young adults or adults.  Children are children.  Their brains are still developing.  Often they don't even have the language skills to describe what has happened to them.  Often they don't have the grasp of emotions needed to understand and explain how they feel.  They're often so young that they don't know there is anything unusual about what is happening in the family because they learn about the world through their family.

        All trauma is a nightmare.  But adolescents and adults can often look back at times that weren't filled with battles and have the sense of losing the feeling that the world is a safe place.  Children have no idea that safety even exists.  It is a concept that has no meaning for them.

        Judy Herman writes that children are rendered helpless by virtue of their captivity.  They can't take care of themselves so there is no escape.  They are prisoners in homes of violence.  Judy Herman would be good to read.  She lumps it all in together: veterans, survivors of natural disasters,  members of cults, rape survivors, battered women, people fleeing violent regimes, prisoners, children--everyone who has been traumatized is lumped in together.  Sure, there are certain characteristics that may be more common in certain subgroups.  But trauma is trauma is trauma.

        I'll also tell you this.  Every client that I've ever worked with who had PTSD always thinks they should have gotten over it already because there are people that have been through much worse than they have.  Every single one.  But they never consider that there are plenty of people around who haven't experienced a traumatic event, who think trauma is sending a child off to school for the first time or losing a game is traumatic.  And they have no idea how lucky they are.

        Can you honestly tell me that what your best friend went through in her home is a piece of cake compared to what vets went through?  And not only that but that she isn't deserving of treatment or of compassion because she didn't see people dying in a war zone?  Because if you think she's entitled to claim her early years as trauma then so are you.

        And just to be clear, the first criterion for PTSD, without a yes to this then the other symptoms are not relevant, is: The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present:

        1. The person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.
        1. The person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Note: in children, it may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.

        Here's something else to note.  When I first started practicing the criteria said, "the person has experienced an event that is outside the range of usual human experience......"  They had to change that once they started to realize that it isn't unusual for women to be raped or battered or for children to be abused.  War was outside the range of usual human experience but most traumas people experience were not.  So if those who decided that what meets the criteria for PTSD decided that all traumas meet the criteria as long as the emotions at the time were intense fear, helplessness or horror, then why should anyone start deciding which traumas are more deserving of consideration than others?

        Here's some simple advice: Always be yourself. Never take yourself too seriously. And beware of advice from experts, pigs, and members of Parliament. Kermit

        by sobermom on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:12:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Lyrica was a GODSEND for me. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Nothing else worked, but this antiseizure med sure did. It's approved in Europe for generalized anxiety disorder.

        Don't give up! The Lyrica worked great, but I don't need it anymore. So medication isn't a life sentence, either.

        "Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

        by redstatebluegirl on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:27:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You can have other kinds of PTSD, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        non-combat related. It doesn't have to be from a one-time catastrophic war event, and you can absolutely get it from the kinds of things you've been through.

  •  THANKS for sharing (7+ / 0-)

    I'm sure that life has been not everything one would hope for so far, I'm hoping you find more happiness...

  •  You hurt this mom's heart. (13+ / 0-)

    You have value. You have worth. I have five kids. None of them are gay. But, if they were I would not love them any less than the others. So, love yourself and let others love you.

    McCain/Palin: Not Mavericks. Just meanies.

    by redtex on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:10:25 AM PDT

  •  Don't be so hard on yourself. Coming out is a (13+ / 0-)

    process made much more difficult when living in rural or other conservative areas.

    My recommendation to any young person trying to explore their sexuality and how it impacts their identity is to move to a major metropolitan area.

    The advantage is that inherent in all large cities is diversity, including a fair population within the GLBT community. That provides so many opportunities for affirmation.

    I grew up in an incredibly conservative area, and when I came out to my mother she told me she'd rather I be dead. That was nearly four decades ago.

    My response was to move away to New York where I discovered the most incredibly loving, supportive people who quickly became my family, accepting me for who I am, not who they'd like me to be.

    I don't want to hijack your moving diary with tales of my own experiences, but I do advise you to consider moving away from where you currently live.  In essence, you're imprisoned by social and familial constraints that until you can escape, you'll find life a series of disappointments.

    I'm not suggesting that you abandon your community nor your family, merely put some distance between you and them as you search for and become secure in your own identity.

    There's an incredible world out there full of wonderfully loving and supportive people.  Yes, there are assholes as well, but the ones I've met in my travels throughout the country and diverse parts of the world are no worse than the ones in my family.  And they're much easier to dismiss.

    Good luck, young man, on your journey.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

    by rontun on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:10:29 AM PDT

    •  I grew up in Atlanta, in a family with (5+ / 0-)

      5 siblings, and tons of "uncles". Every Sunday, after church, Mom would begin Eggs Benedict, and Dad started handing out Bloody Marys. Father Mulroy would show after midday Mass, and there'd be 15-30 people at the house, many of them single men. At nine, I was in love with Uncle Norman. He showed up with the most elegant woman I'd ever seen (and with my mom, that's saying a lot) when I was 11 and later told Mom he was going to marry her. Mom talked him out of it, I eavesdropped. She told him to be true to himself, and he stayed single, later finding a really cool guy. As a teenager, I realized most of these men were gay. I argued once with Dad about Uncle Dan, and he said, "He's a man's man." I replied, "Exactly." Though many of them are dead now, I love these men, my brothers and sisters did too, and obviously so did my parents.  At my wedding, one old friend thanked me for having me as a part of my family. I hugged him and said, "Of course", wondering at the intensity of his words. Several months later, he died of AIDS. I thank all those gay men of my childhood for adding so much to them, and I'm grateful to my parents for welcoming them into our family. I wish everyone could see each other for what we offer; we miss so much judging tiny traits. Sorry to go on so long - gay men and women have just had such wonderful impacts on my life (for what's it's worth, I'm hetro).

    •  It's in no way hijacking for you to share. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, grada3784, Patriot4peace

      Today is a day about sharing, and your sharing is definitely welcome.  I don't know what I would have done if my mom had told me she wished I was dead.  Only through people like you sharing your experience can people who don't experience it know how hard it can be for people dealing with something that they themselves might take for granted.

  •  Prop 8 question (10+ / 0-)

    I know, just somewhat related to this excellent diary, but thought I might get an answer here.

    When I gave $$ to the No On 8 group, that donation was not tax deductable.

    My understanding though is that I could give $$ to the Mormon church and that would be tax deductible.  They could then use that money to support Prop 8.

    Do I understand that correctly?


  •  Good on You (14+ / 0-)

    Your story reminds me a lot of mine.  Just substitute "strict Catholics" for the World Wide Church of God and we have very similar stories.  

    I'm 57 now and came out to my family when I was 20. I promise you - it WILL get better. Coming out and being who God made you to be is the ultimate reparative therapy. You WILL get better over time.

    Celebrate yourself. Love whom you choose. I salute you.

    I don't mind straight people as long as they act gay in public.

    by internationaljock on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:11:28 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for your story (12+ / 0-)

    Even for people who are not gay, church and family teachings are powerful things to overcome.  Been there, still working on it myself.

    Keep fighting the anxiety and depression for all you are worth because you are worth it.

  •  Excellent diary. (10+ / 0-)

    I can't imagine he heartache teenage gays go through when it's hard enough for straight kids! My heart goes out to you, and hopefully, in the years and decades to come, people will learn not to be so afraid of the "different."

    Republicans: Fluffy. White. Happy. -- The Daily Show

    by romwriter on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:14:36 AM PDT

  •  When a lesbian friend of mine (23+ / 0-)

    came out to me, I looked her over and said, "Okay, what am I supposed to do now?  Run screaming?"  It was fortunate there was no way for traffic to be moving because, while she didn't laugh for long, she did laugh hard enough to have driven off the road.

    I'm a heterosexual woman.  I knew I was straight before I was old enough to know there were options.

    A gay man I know won my heart forever when he told me he understood perfectly how the female of the species could fail to turn me on.

    Kid, you're a year and a half younger than my firstborn.  You need therapy.  Not for being gay, but for the abuse you grew up with.  I would recommend EMDR, which is approved for PTSD treatment.  Check out their website and see what you think.  It helped me deal with some traumatic events in my life.

  •  Help make things better for future generations. (8+ / 0-)

    Since this diary will attract a lot of gay readers, I implore you:

    PLEASE make a donation to the "No on 8" Campaign:

    No on 8 Campaign Website

    With the campaign to defeat anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 behind in money and in two recent polls, Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors declared Tuesday, "We are going to lose this election if we don't raise the money we need to stay on the airwaves."

    No on 8 senior strategist Steve Smith who, along with Kors, was speaking on a conference call with LGBT media, said the campaign needs to raise at least $10 million before the November 4 election. That money is crucial to reach voters through TV ads.

    Smith responded to a reporter's question about what the homeland security alert color would be at this stage by saying, "To hell with orange. We're going straight to red."

    "Our community is very complacent," Kors said, thinking that the election's over and that "we're going to win." But, he said, "Our lead is gone."

    "We are not matching them dollar for dollar," Kors added, "and that is slippage that we've got to stop."

    I don't mind straight people as long as they act gay in public.

    by internationaljock on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:16:20 AM PDT

  •  Sexual ecology -- social ecology (7+ / 0-)

    That's how I think of sexual differences -- that they are features, or a dimension, of the larger systems logic that governs how we relate to each other, nature, society... Each person, in his or her uniqueness, is an essential part of -- a generating element of -- this wholly interconnected set of systems.  Who you are is not just ok, it's an necessary part of the order of things and this demands respect and I think even reverence.  You deserve to be happy and to bring happiness to others and to develop and express your potential.

  •  Thank you for sharing your story (10+ / 0-)

    Please don't give up on love and relationships. What you went through with your boyfriend is no different than what many straight people experience, including myself (although actually I'm bisexual). I was painfully shy and insecure most of my life until about my mid-30s, when I made a tough but conscious decision to be honest with myself about who I really was and what I wanted out of life, and learned to embrace my true nature. I've also battled anxiety, ADHD, and depression for as long as I can remember and tried numerous medications, but had no luck until I started taking Effexor a couple years ago. It's worked wonders. If you haven't tried that one, it might be worthwhile to look into. I had almost no side effects, only a little queasiness for the first week or so. You may need to force yourself to believe you have value, which is what I had to do, until eventually you won't have to force yourself anymore, and you will just truly feel in your heart and head that you are a worthwhile person who contributes to the world, even in a small way. And once you find that confidence and self-esteem, you will then attract people who find those qualities appealing, whether they become friends or lovers. But most importantly, you will find that it's perfectly okay to be alone as well. It may sound impossible, but it's just what happened to me, and don't let the myth of thinking you're too old to change interfere. I used to think that way too, but then I started telling myself instead that I was too old to still be the way I was, and damn, did it make a difference looking at myself that way instead. I believe you can do this. With your permission, I'll ask the deities to bless you and guide you.

    Don't trust any UID over [insert current highest number here].

    by pattyp on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:18:23 AM PDT

  •  My first boyfriend (13+ / 0-)

    in high school is now gay. Well, he was gay then, but was trying very hard to not be at that time. We were two lost souls that found each other at a very opportune time. I loved him then, and I love him still today. He is one of my dearest friends. The relief when he came out was palpable. I remember his suicidal nights.

    Your story touched me. I hope you find the courage in yourself to live your life with power, and try to see yourself the way that your girlfriend/best friend sees you. See yourself through her eyes. Those dogmatic, dominionist teachings are borne of fear and cowardice. And now these things remain: Faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.

    Obama/Biden '08 Yes We Can!

    by alkalinesky on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:18:29 AM PDT

  •  thank you for telling your story (6+ / 0-)

    I'm so glad your mom and siblings have come around.

    "Our struggle is not with some monarch named George who inherited the crown. Although it often seems that way."

    by erinya on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:18:35 AM PDT

  •  It Gets Better... (16+ / 0-)

    Thanks so much for sharing your story.  I can feel the pain leaping off the page.

    And yet -- you're a survivor.  I grew up as an Assemblies of God preacher's kid - also gay.  It's an almost unbelievably stressful combination of life circumstances.

    At 41, I'm a little older than you.  Hopefully this doesn't come across as patronizing, but things do get better.  Personally, that's one of the reasons I'm here at Daily Kos.  I see this wonderful world of like-minded human beings -- largely straight -- who defend my rights as if it they were there own.  

    I'm glad you came out, V.  We're all better for it.

  •  you have more courage than you know (11+ / 0-)

    and its your "conditioning' that keeps you full of anxiety.

    most important for you is to find a good therapist that you trust and at least in the beginning think about medication to relieve your anxiety and that will allow you to take some more positive steps.

    and know you are not alone and you can make the positive changes you desire.

    "Do not go where the path may lead, but go instead where there is no path - and leave a trail " -Epicitetus

    by JadeZ on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:20:59 AM PDT

  •  There's a great song from a Broadway show (8+ / 0-)

    "When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high. And don't be afraid of the dark..."

    I can understand your feelings. What you need is counseling and a good anti-depressant. There is a world out there for you. there is a person out there for you. You just need to feel good enough about yourself to find it.

    I know how hard depression is. You can't do anything. You can't get motivated. You don't want anyone to see you. But it CAN get better.

    Don't delay. you deserve every happiness God intended for you. And despite what the so-called Christians in your family and church told you God does not hate. God is only love. It's a shame that they never learned that.

    But it is also said that god never gives anyone anything they can't handle. Mother Teresa once said "I know God wouldn't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much."

    You can find your purpose. maybe God made you gay because he knew that once you accepted yourself, you could help others in your situation. but whatever it is, I don't think God ever wanted you to be a hermit.

    Go forward. You deserve every happiness you can give yourself.
    Good luck.

    "In a time of universal deceit -- telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

    by MA Liberal on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:22:03 AM PDT

  •  thank you for sharing a very common story (7+ / 0-)

    i grew up in a town dominated by fundamentalist, constrictive churches, and yours is a common story of what happens to anyone raised in such a church who is 'different'.  not just gay, but too bookish, 'slutty', wearing the wrong clothes, experimenting with drugs, interested in any other religious views, not athletic enough, on and on and on.  as these type of 'churches' push themselves more and more onto the political stage, it helps the average citizen to know more who we're dealing with.

    don't give up on ameliorating your anxiety.  there are medicines and therapies that work, you just have to keep trying until you hit on the right ones.  i've known people to be really helped by cognitive behavioural therapy - basically, you acclimate yourself to anxiety-producing situations little by little.  you can even do it on your own.  i know from personal experience with depression that once you get it in the background, so much more of your life will open up. it's a lot harder to meet that special guy when you can't go out of the house, after all!  ; )  best of luck and thank you again, xochi.

  •  thank you for posting your story (6+ / 0-)

    I'm a mom of little kids, but I've thought from time to time about what their life would be like if they're gay.  I know that my husband and I will adore and support them no matter what, and so will our parents - we live in Northern VA, which is so different from the part of VA where you grew up.  I just hope for my kids that they find people in their lives who love them deeply - I want them to be happy and secure.  I'm very sorry that your childhood was so difficult.  I know you've probably had it with religion, but the United Church of Christ is extremely pro-civil rights in general, and supportive of gay people specifically.  I grew up in this church, and if you ever find yourself wanting to explore religion again, please know that there are welcoming churches out there.  Good luck, and peace.

  •  I came out when I was 10 (12+ / 0-)

    and my religiously dipped father punched me back into the closet where I banged my fists on the door until the day he died, when I finally came out - left my wife of 13 years - got honest with my 4 children and have been happy ever since.

    Oh...she finally remarried and lived happily ever after too.

    It was the right thing to do.  I can die now knowing that, and my father's voice in my head can never change that.

    "We have not got to allow the partisanship that has really been entrenched in Washington D.C., no matter who's been in charge" Some Moron

    by Detroit Mark on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:24:06 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing your story. (6+ / 0-)

    It was rambling but that's what we do when telling our stories.  Be kind to yourself.  You are young and anything is possible.  Take a few chances, love even if you don't think it will be returned.  Loving is a bit like everything else.  You get better with practice.  Begin by practicing loving yourself ;-)  {{Hugs}} and prayers to you!

    -7.62, -7.28 "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:25:08 AM PDT

  •  Woo-hoo! Happy Coming Out Day! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valerie, sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784

    I was looking for an excuse to have some cake today...

    In TX-32, track the voting record of Pete Sessions at SessionsWatch.

    by CoolOnion on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:25:28 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for your story (8+ / 0-)

    I was touched when you said it was the first time a christian told you God did not hate gay or lesbian people.

    I was a christian long ago, and I went to a church that did not accept gay or lesbian people. I went there because I was lonely and those people came to my door and invited me.

    The problem is I'd go to Bible study and I couldn't help but here political views that bothered me and struck me as contrary to Jesus teachings. I would hear views about welfare recipients, gay people, & even free market people who favored the rich over ordinary people. I couldn't believe this.

    I personally believed God loves everyone - without any exceptions.

    Anyway, I didn't belong there and I have not been to church for many years.

  •  thanks for sharing your story vacantlook (9+ / 0-)

    I know that at 29 ten years seems like an eternity to be dealing with all this.  but the process of overcoming the trauma of your early life conditioning is a slow and steady one.  please don't give up on therapy and meds if you need them.  you are young and there is still plenty of time for you to find a man to love who loves and respects you in return.  

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
    24 days until the '08 elections. Let's paint the country BLUE!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:29:04 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for sharing your story, it took an (6+ / 0-)

    amazing amount of courage.

    The damage done in the name of religion is in itself a 'sin'.

    I'm glad your Mom and your friend are there for you, but don't forget, we are here for you too!

    "Yes he can, but first we have to elect him" ! President Bill Clinton, Aug 27, DNC Convention. Hey there Bill, when are going to help start electing him?

    by AntKat on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:31:33 AM PDT

  •  Hugs to you vacantlook. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valerie, sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784, evora

    Your story tugged at my heart.  The anxiety you suffer so closely resembles what my mother went through.  She too bore the scars of an abusive alcoholic father.

    Like her, it sounds like you suffer from Agoraphobia.  She was so bad at one point that she didn't leave the house for over a year.

    There is hope.  As difficult as it might be, don't give up on finding the right doctor or trying new medication until you hit on something that works for you.  After many tries, my mother eventually found the help she so desperately needed and went on to become a very successful real estate agent.

    Also, returning to school could be a big morale booster for you.  There are a lot of good schools that now offer online courses so you wouldn't have to deal with the anxiety of sitting in a classroom.  

    You deserve to be loved vacantlook, never forget that.

    that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. - Barack Obama

    by acuppajo on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:32:44 AM PDT

  •  A suggestion for you vacantlook, if I may: (6+ / 0-)

    Create a gay family for yourself. After I came out in the early 70's I made a conscious effort to meet and befriend quality gay people with whom to share my life. Older guys, younger guys - a loving group of friends with whom you can share your joys and sorrows. A supportive family of friends with whom to celebrate holidays, share a meal, see a movie.

    It will help tremendously.

    I don't mind straight people as long as they act gay in public.

    by internationaljock on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:32:47 AM PDT

  •  I tip my hat to you, sir (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your very moving diary.  Happy belated birthday as well.  


    I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. -- Douglas Adams

    by JL Peterson on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:32:50 AM PDT

  •  I hurt myself in other ways... (6+ / 0-)

    Raging addict/alcoholic...from a very young age.  Wrote letters to God at 13 years old, burning them in a ritual on the roof of my apartment building -- begging to be normal.

    Always a little off, mentally, and until reading your words never actually linked my depression/anxiety of today to the torment of my childhood (although I was well aware of what was causing it at the time.  I just always knew I had it and would always have it.

    I would have thought that even after 13 years of sobriety now, nearly 30 years of and and off therapy (10 years in a row now in sobriety and on medications), that the 'bunker mentality' I have, the daily anxiety I live with and the inability of not being able to have real relationships, let alone romantic ones -- in healthy ways -- would have lifted.  It hasn't.
    That's not to say it hasn't gotten a lot better -- that I am 'content' on most days with the simple life I lead now (I don't/can't work). But after reading your words I now must reevaluate the root cause of the bi-polar behavior I live with on a daily basis.  P

    erhaps it isn't just 'something I was born with' as I have always believed, but something that was triggered by a very similar shame and torment that you have expressed about myself, and others (childhood bullies, etc.).

    Not to self:  Bring it up next Tuesday in therapy.


    Thanks for your heartfelt story.

    PS:  When I came out, 3 months before graduating from High School - I named names.  

    I had already 'played' with or had sex with most of my friends growing up, by that day.  

    It was my attempt not to hurt anyone, but to make it a 'if they can do it it can't be so bad' reality as I made my announcement because, as I have learned since then, the shame was so bad as I spoke the words, I needed company.

    Some of the other boys were the straightest, jockiest boys in the school.

    Let's just say I graduated with a bang.

    It's one of the greatest regrets I have to this day.

  •  I did a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, grada3784

    Voter Registration Drive at a gay bar last Friday night and had to come out the opposite direction.  It was weird.  I didn't think I gave off gay vibes.

    You're gay and that's great that you're not hiding.  Now maybe you can help a friend of mine who's out to everyone else but himself.  

  •  To VacantLook (13+ / 0-)

    When I was a freshman in highschool in West Michigan ten years ago (a very conservative place as well), I found myself the only black student in the AP program of my high school.  This meant, essentially, that while my school was very diverse, the program I was in was kind of a school within a school and was not diverse at all.

    I was so out of place that I would sit at my desk and feel painfully self-conscious in every single class to the point that I went home and bawled every single day.  No one talked to me.  I was bussed into a school 15 miles from my home (the inner city), so I felt like I was in another world.  I took my solace in being one of the smartest kids in class and in the fact that all of my teachers adored me (which alienated me even more from the other kids).

    Then, mid-year, a guy named Jason came to class.  He was gay.  He absolutely embodied many gay stereotypes and was ostracized for it.  He took one look at me and started a long, gabby conversation full of jokes and innuendos that I spent a good portion of our study time, bent over laughing.  From that day on, we were inseparable.  

    I was no longer invisible!  And Jason was no longer afraid to walk down the halls of school (I had two, very large, agressive older brothers who made it a point to protect me and my friends, even when I didn't want them to).  We complimented each other beautifully and I know it was God (I am a believer) who put us together. At 14, every bible lesson I'd been taught at church went out the window.  You see, I knew the difference between good and evil and Jason was clearly on the good side.  

    Since then, I have been the biggest, loudest advocate for gay rights in my little conservative city.

    I understand your fear and anxiety.  Sometimes, I am afraid, too. (By the way, my first boyfriend was a complete and total loser, too, who was after things that he could get from me, go figure! I think that's a pretty average mistake!)

    I hope and pray that you find the things you want and need in life.  Thanks for sharing your story!

    •  Thank you for your support... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, grada3784, maren a

      ...both your comments to me for this diary and in your advocacy for gay rights in your community.

      I totally hear you about the alienation that often comes with academic excellence.  I always got good grades in school -- often times As without having to do much work (I almost never dead math homework at home, only right before class sitting there waiting for class to begin) and I always got As.  But being smart came with the price of harassment from others in the class.

      And I sympathize with the long travel for school.  My high school was 12 miles away and there was no option to go anywhere else because it was then and still is the only high school in the entire county.

  •  I want you to get out there! What a diary. (7+ / 0-)

    You're so articulate, so good, so many good qualities. For someone who has been through a lot of grief in your life it's amazing how clear-headed and calm and just together you seem.

    My first highschool boyfriend is gay and we too are still very close and really love each other a lot, and it's been like 30 years ... I hope you'll be able to get to a point where you can see that if there is a God, he would love everyone, and that all of us are like atoms of god, equal parts of the universe and all worthy of giving and receiving love, which in my opinion is why we are here. It's only people who are afraid, it's fear and shame that make people mistrust and hate and harm one another. I am a lapsed Catholic myself and somewhat of an agnostic but when I hear those words, you know, "God is love," it is thrilling and seems true in a way that 'facts' can never be.

    I'd really like to see you get into journalism and go out and find some great new friends, and a nice boyfriend who loves you, like Richard (my highschool boyfriend) found I think fifteen years ago. It took a long time but he got there, and he is so fulfilled and so himself now, and that makes me really happy.  All the best and thank you for a really fine diary.

  •  Great diary. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valerie, sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784

    And I've been there, believe me.  

    The best thing that you could do for yourself is to find some sort of volunteer work that not only gets you out of the house, but out of yourself.  Volunteer work, and immersing yourself in some greater goal, is a great way to overcome being trapped in one's own head.  And seeing how others struggle, and helping them, will help you.  It really will.

    So go for it.  Good luck and god-speed.

  •  Dear God... what is wrong with this world (8+ / 0-)

    where human beings seem to go out of their way to hurt. This breaks my heart so bad, I can't even put it into words..but here's a little bit.

    I'm a 57 year old heterosexual woman who was raised Catholic..but something in that little girl said that this whole business of God hating you unless you did this or that didn't square up with what I believed God to be. Now I don't have any special claims to knowing if there is a God, or who or what he/she/it might be, but for me, that presence that lives inside you is a tiny part of an infinite light that knows nothing about the hate you were taught to feel about yourself.

    I may not know much, but I know this about you without ever having to meet you face to face. It rings out with more beauty through what you've written than anything any book or preacher can ever deny. You are a special gift on this planet by being exactly who you are. You hear me, a gift.  There may be people in this world that won't be able to see it, but plenty who will.  

    And don't beat yourself up about the guy who lied and treated you like crap.  I'll attest to the fact that that is rather frequent in heterosexual relationships as well. You will find that when you love and respect yourself, you attract more loving and respecting people into your life.  So please... please... know how very special you are, and how very deserving you are of that love and respect. Give that gift to yourself because the gift of who you are is needed in this world.

  •  thanks for sharing your story (n/t) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valerie, vacantlook, grada3784
  •  Thanks for sharing your story (6+ / 0-)

    and congrats for coming out.  We all love and support you.  The most important thing for you to do is find a local gay support group or something.  Many towns have them.  If you live in a very small rural village, perhaps you can find one in a city nearby.  In big cities there are gay runner clubs, soccer clubs, bicycle groups, cooking classes, etc etc.  The most important thing for you is to find a supportive gay community group.  And get a nice boyfriend!  The are a lot of trolls in the gay community, but there are just as many nice and sincere guys like you.  Trust me, there is someone for everybody. I have been with my partner for 13 years and couldn't be happier.
    I don't know if you have that option, but if you could move away from where you live and resettle in a big city it would do wonders for your social life and emotional well-being.

  • (7+ / 0-)

    This diary is, among other things, a timeless progressive-political manifesto.

    Thanks so much.

  •  I applaud your bravery. (7+ / 0-)

    It's a shame that it takes bravery in our society for a gay person to be open about who they are.

    Remind me, what's that first truth that we hold self evident?

    Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

    by lockewasright on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:41:00 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for a great, if painful, diary. (8+ / 0-)

    You sure found the right girlfriend - wow, what a special person!

    I hope you find it within yourself to escape to someplace where the outdoors is as friendly as the indoors, and you can see people all around you just being - people who love each other, no matter what body packaging they're in - male or female, brown, pink, tan, green, whatever. The world holds a better life for you. I hope you will soon find the strength to come out and grab for it.

    And remember... if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own.
    - Scoop Nisker, the Last News Show

    by pixxer on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:42:36 AM PDT

  •  One thing you have got to believe (8+ / 0-)

    is that there are literally millions of us non-gays out here that support you completely.  We know that sexuality is not a "choice" you make, but something that is inside you from birth.  Every jerk that tells me people choose to be gay, I always ask, so then you chose to be straight, right?

    Who in the world would choose to be gay, especially in families where it causes such a rift?  I am so hopeful that this next generation coming up feels very differently about the gay community.  My daughter's high school has a GLBT club and almost all of the people in it are straight.  There are over 100 kids in this club.

    Times, they are 'a changing.  Realize that many of us care about you and know that it is a very difficult thing to be ridiculed for something you were born with.

    Stand tall.

    "My Momma always taught me to play by the rules, and if you don't that's called cheatin'." - Donna Brazile

    by jjmn on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:45:04 AM PDT

    •  That's one of the good things about sites like... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, grada3784, maren a

      ...Daily Kos.  While I might be limited in my direct personal "real world" exposure to people, communicating online with people on sites like this helps know that there are good folk out there, even if they might not be directly around me here where I live in VA.

      I do think the next generation will be better, and the one after that even more so.  It's progressive, which I guess is why gay rights and equality and the like is a Progressive cause.  :)

      And I've popped out with the same response to the choice argument that you've used.  A lot of the times I have, they don't even respond.  Sounds like checkmate to me.

  •  First of all, I want to give you many cyber hugs. (5+ / 0-)

    Then I want to urge you to find a good therapist.  You will have to shop around- there are great ones out there, but there are some bad ones as well.

    Anxiety meds are getting better are the time, but each person is different and it takes a while to find what is going to work for you.  It can and will turn your life around.

    I would like to encourage you to keep on with your writing- even if you just do it for yourself.  But hey!  Take a plunge- get yourself a copy of Writer's Marketplace-any Barnes and Noble type store will have it  They are putting out the 09 ones now so you may be able to get an 08 pretty cheap-or pick up an current issue of Writer's Digest.  Send some stories out- who knows?

    Be good to yourself- you're a valuable human being that has a lot of good things to share.

  •  thanks for sharing. A small suggestion (4+ / 0-)

    thanks for sharing. A small suggestion: you said you still have anxiety going to store etc... I think you overcome yourself just fine now but the best for you is to move to a more gay open community. It is all about community.

    If you are gay and live in  rural central Virginia, it is very difficult to be your self. Take the plunge, move to San Francisco or some other places on the West coast. At least try it for few months first.

    McCain is not Bush III. He will be worse than Bush.

    by iBlue on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:46:04 AM PDT

  •  I have to wonder... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, grada3784

    ...if some of the anxiety you feel being outside and around others might also be from being an 'undiagnosed' introvert?

    •  I do often feel introverted. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grada3784, maren a, 4Freedom

      But it's interesting, there are times (like if I've had some alcohol [embarrassed blush]) that I'm a total motor mouth.  I think it's a conflicting clash of my anxiety vs my ADHD.  My best friend, if I'm like talking to her on the phone or something, can tell if I've had anything to drink because of how much and how fast I'll be talking.  She'll sometimes say something about it, and I'll apologize because I know many people get uncomfortable around the hyperactivity of someone with ADHD, and she's told me when I apologize for it that she actually likes it when I talk a lot.

  •  I have faith in you (5+ / 0-)

    I think you've just demonstrated admirable courage and strength in telling this very moving personal story.  It reminds me of something someone very close to me went through, and I hope her success gives you hope.

    She went through similar struggles in her high school and college years.  She suffered through depression and chemical abuse and self destructive behavior.  But she got through it.  It wasn't easy and it took years, but she now has a great career, a wonderful life-partner (together 15 years now) and a amazing daughter.

    Seeing how skillfully and powerfully you write, it reminds me of her.  Maybe its a lot to assume based on just that, but I believe you have the same inner strength.  This was a great diary, and I hope it encourages you to push past your comfort zone a bit more often, to test your personal barriers.  You might surprise yourself.

    Treasure each day like it will be your last, but treat the earth like you will live forever. -me

    by protothad on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:47:04 AM PDT

  •  Stay Courageous! (5+ / 0-)

    Well, you have a lot more courage than I've ever had! Some people jump out of the closet, some slide out of the closet, and some stay in there their whole lives. I was a slider...I think every gay person has to find their own path to self-love and self-worth. What I find most helpful is knowing in my heart that it's right. I love my boyfriend more than anyone I have ever known or loved, my family included, and we've been together more than 7 years. But it took me decades--I'm 52 now--to trust myself and seek what is best in another man, rather than take what I could get. I have faith that the younger generations will fully embrace and accept gay humans, and that eventually we'll have the right to marry everywhere and express ourselves as loving partners as much as anyone. But it takes time and patience and stories like yours to let the world know that being gay is as natural and human as singing and dancing. Though I've lived parts of your story (dating women and shady men), and felt the horror and anxiety (a part of me still does), your story gives me hope this morning and inspires me to keep the faith. Being attracted to men is not a horrible thing, it's a beautiful thing. If there's one thing we need in the world today, it's love. So even if you've not yet found the man of your dreams, don't quit trying. Remember, the truth will set you free. Thanks for sharing your story.

    W. Sean Chamberlin Oceanographer Fight Global Warming

    by scxq28 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:47:35 AM PDT

  •  Good for you! (5+ / 0-)

    Just keep your head high and make an absolute commitment to enjoy the happiness and respect you deserve. It ain't easy coming out in Appalachia, I know. You've been through a lot. You had to do it alone. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger — set your sights on a beautiful, loving future. I've got a few decades experience on you and I can tell you that the pain and trauma subside, and if you respect yourself and demand respect from others, the struggle will come back to you in positive ways. We're proud of you.

    "True peace is not merely the absence of tension -- it is the presence of justice." MLK

    by dhaemeon on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:48:18 AM PDT

  •  You will find the right guy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valerie, vacantlook, grada3784, gizmo59

    It is just a matter of time, and being open to opportunities.

  •  Thank you for your story. (6+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry you are so unhappy. Some ideas (may be good or bad, I just can't stop myself from trying to help you feel better):

    Don't give up and accept the anxiety etc. as something you just have to live with. Keep trying things that might help. Think of it as a mystery, and there is a solution. If one path is a dead end, try another.

    Find a therapist who is good at EMDR, or whatever they are calling it these days. It sounds to me like you have PTSD from all you've been through, and EMDR can be HUGE at helping that, and quickly.

    Believe that you will find someone some day. You will. But you kind of have to get through all this other stuff first (the hurts, the anxiety, the depression) and then when your foundation is all sturdy, you'll find that match, who wants a good relationship. I believe that when our own foundations are all cracked and bumpy, we don't attract people with solid foundations of their own, but others who aren't in a good place. Only bad can come of that, as you found with your last boyfriend. Do the things that will heal yourself, and I guarantee that you will be a better person for it, a happier person, and you will attract the kind of guy you really deserve: one that you will be happy with.

    Good luck and don't stop working at getting better!

  •  Thank you for sharing (6+ / 0-)

    I must admit to dropping a tear or two as I read it.  It's just so sad the trials people have to go through to just be themselves.  Anyway onward and upward.

    I am not tame, and this is no time for the timid. Your very liberty is at stake.

    by Adept2u on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:54:58 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for sharing your moving story (5+ / 0-)

    I was really moved by this.

    Just know that as you work through your issues, that you are ALWAYS among friends here.

    "Journalistic conventions make it hard for reporters to deal with a big, complicated lie." -- Michael Kinsley.

    by dcg2 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:55:08 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting this (6+ / 0-)

    When I read this, I see a lot of my own story here.

    I grew up in WV with a very religious family.  My father and mother were divorced when I was 10.  (I am now 28.)

    It took me until I was 24 to even be honest with myself about what I wanted.  I'd gone to college, moved to NYC and started law school and even then, it took 2 years for me to summon the courage to do what you did.  

    I'd love to talk more -- please feel free to email me.   my email is my user name here @ gmail dot com.

    Sometimes a man is offered the right choice and the wrong choice, and he only misses by one.

    by NonSanaeMentis on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:56:20 AM PDT

  •  thanks for sharing your story (8+ / 0-)

    even this can be a small step in diminishing your anxiety and fears..........

    you have had some incredibly tough times -- but you are here, and you could relate your story with candor, warmth and emotion --- how great is that!

    there are people who do care, and who do listen.  you deserve all the happpiness and joy in the world -- we all do.  and if this sharing gets you one step closer, then good for you.

    i wish we really could live in a world where being gay, black, jewish, muslim, blind, etc really didnt matter.

    He may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot...Groucho Marx

    by distributorcap on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:57:40 AM PDT

  •  Tipped and Recommended (6+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your story.  

    Gosh, if there was some magic word I could say to get you to go out into the world and experience what life can offer you...Just don't ever give up on yourself.  The world needs as many good people as it can get.  And who knows how many people will read your story today and think, "Wow, I'm not the only one."

    Great work, and again, thank you.

  •  I hope you get help so you can be happier. (7+ / 0-)

    You deserve to be happy and emotionally whole, but it sounds like you need some help to get there.  

    Congratulations on accepting who you are -- that can't have been easy, given what you've been through.  I really hope that someday you'll be able to love yourself, too.  

  •  Life is a process. Don't fear you're stuck. (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for telling your hard story here. You have been through a lot and I'm glad there have been at least a few points of light in the murk. There's more left in life for you, and I think you will gradually find your way out of your anxiety, will gradually find ways to change your life closer to the life you deserve. But it takes a bit longer when someone has had the kind of treatment that you have. Being part of an online community is a really good thing (and it's certainly helped me through the last 26 years I've been online). You're not really alone; you're with us!

    I dream of the day when we no longer need a National Coming Out Day, when parents and peers don't impose their expectations about sexual orientation on their kids. I think we're making progress, but again, it takes longer than it should. But one thing that helps is folks like you sharing their stories, so we all understand the cost of a society that fears more than it loves.

    Hang in there and keep on posting!

  •  Thanks for choosing to share your story with us (5+ / 0-)

    and in so doing, offering us the opportunity to support you.  I'm sorry for what you've experienced at the hands of others. You will find your way.

    It amazes me that we humans can treat one another as we often do, in the service of some intangible ideal. I'd argue that right here, right now is the opportunity to create loving-kindness, practice acceptance, goodwill, understanding with the person across from us, whomever he or she may be.  What could be more "God" than that?  Yet we often refuse to see them unless they fit into our little template of "acceptables"-- I've been guilty of the same.  Your story challenges me to do better.  

    Thank you.

    What would happen if those advocating intolerance were to sit and read a collection of writings from those who have the burden of reaping the harvest of what they've sown, or better yet, hear them, relate to them in person. Just listening, not judging, or preaching or providing "counsel." I'll have to Google and see if this has occurred anywhere.

    Have the members of the traditional (i.e., corporate) media no shame?

    by NinthElegy on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:02:17 AM PDT

  •  Isn't it great being out now? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, maren a, 4Freedom, gizmo59

    As far as the anxiety goes, you'll get better.  It just takes time and a good therapist.  Welcome to the world of being who you truly are!

    If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

    by Mz Kleen on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:02:29 AM PDT

  •  Well, if you've done it, I can too (8+ / 0-)

    I came out at the advanced age of 35, on January 2, 1995.  I had made a New Year's Resolution, the last one I've ever made:  I would come out.  I had finally been able to admit to myself that I was gay just 15 months before, after decades of denial.  If truth be known, I owe it all to Garry Trudeau.  When his character Mark Slackmeyer came out to himself, so did I.  (I'd provide a link, but the on-line Doonesbury archive doesn't appear to go back that far.)  I recognized his excuses for not dating to be the same as mine.

    I chalk up the denial to a Catholic upbringing, where being gay was not on the list of possibilities.  School-yard catcalls didn't help.  I was fortunate in that I could hide fairly well, though at that time, it never would have occurred to me that that was what I was doing.  Rather than give my desires any regard, I simply submerged myself in academics.  Twenty years later, Ph. D. in hand, there were no more academics to conquer, and there I was, single and lonely.  I had tried dating women a couple times, but I was always unable to take the initiative.  I was frightened, but more importantly, I just did not have the desire.

    After I realized I was gay, I had this feeling of wonder and a hypersensitivity to everything around me.  I saw everything through new eyes.  Once I realized that straight men felt toward women the way I felt toward other men, I immediately understood heterosexual romance in a way I never had before.  I realize that this probably sounds quite stupid, but this is the way denial works, I guess.

    So, on the 2nd of January, 1995, I e-mailed an Episcopal priest I had befriended at a small liberal arts college where I had taught some years before.  I told him I was gay, and he replied that he also was gay!  He was a married man in his 60s with two adult daughters, and while, in retrospect, I should have picked up on subtle cues he gave, I was still surprised.

    As I came out to friends and family, I was helped by their love and support.  Only one friend ended his friendship with me.  I also held back on telling my mother, because I was reluctant to give her yet another reason to be disappointed in me.  In the end, it never mattered that much.  While I never said the g-word to her, she knew what was going on when she met my partner, and she treated him like family.  And my partner was present with me when my mother passed away last year.

    I met my partner during 1995, and we have been together since.  It was as if I had to come out before I could really start my life.  In some respects, it's fortunate that I did not come out as a younger man because I had dealt with all the outer aspects of figuring out who I was already.  All I had to deal with at that time was my sexual orientation (and employment, but that's another story).  I hope I can offer my story as an example that gay people really can live happily ever after, or at least reasonably content for a long period.

    -5.13,-5.64; When pygmies cast such long shadows, it must be very late in the day. -Gian-Carlo Rota

    by gizmo59 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:03:53 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for reminding us how much words hurt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784, 4Freedom

    Thanks for the difficult story, which was undoubtedly difficult to share.  Growing up gay is tough, even without fundamentalism and abuse.  Some of us had hoped that things had got better recently, but it obviously depends on your home environment.
    You're a great writer.  You obviously care about issues and people.  You obviously have a lot worth sharing.  And know that while the world is full of shitty people, there's some great ones too.
    I have been on a few hikes with "Great Outdoors" when I lived in CA.  We did a little talking, and a lot of serious hiking.  You could pretty much just hike, and skip the socializing, and still be part of the group.  I've also done (not nearly enough) work with the local gay "get out the vote" effort.  I don't know what's in your area and what your interests are, but I'd really encourage you to find something like this.  There are lots of groups where you can share an interest with people, and the sexual and socal aspects are not intimidating: you're focused on the common interest.  It's a good way to ease back into connecting with people.  It will be hard, but you can take it slow.  Life is full of good people and interesting things.  And it's surprisingly short.
    Thanks again for sharing this.

  •  Its So Sad That So Many Supposedly Straight (3+ / 0-)

    people continue to support their churches in their depravity toward gays and lesbians.

  •  I'm wondering if you haven't fully (6+ / 0-)

    released yourself from the concept that you belong in hell, because the life you are leading is hell.

    With this incredibly honest diary, you've taken a step toward freedom.  I sincerely wish and hope that you that you use this diary and the outpouring of love and concern to continue moving forward, one tiny step at a time.

    Maybe the next time you're at the store, promise yourself that you will tamp down just one of the urges to look around you for one single minute.  Count to 60.  The next time, make it two.  Increase the time with every visit until, even though you may still feel the need, you don't look around at all.  Then work on mastering the next hurtle.

    Get some books on PTSD to learn and understand the way the brain of someone who's suffered trauma, chemically reacts to their brand of "danger."  I'm not a therapist, but I've helped one my daughters who was abused by her father to ease her fear triggers and lead a healthy, happy life through gradual behavior modification.  You have to reteach your brain not to react to the danger stimuli.

    It take some hard work and bravery, but I have the faith of all religions that you can one day be a full person and not a vacant look.

    A great man once said, the "Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself."  Remember and repeat it often.  Make it your mantra.

    Peace to you, brother.  We're rooting for you.

  •  (((vacantlook))) (4+ / 0-)

    You are a wonderful person deserving of all the blessings that are out there.  I'm seriously "praying" that you find yourself surrounded with loving friends and family who will cocoon you in love and acceptance so that you can begin to heal.

    With all my heart, I wish you the very best.

    The apocalypse will require substantial revision of all zoning ordinances. - Zashvill Political compass -7.88 -7.03.

    by Heiuan on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:14:06 AM PDT

  •  I'm gay, too. Coming out never ends. (9+ / 0-)

    I guess on National Coming Out Day, it's appropriate for DKos to have a roll call of the gays.  Blissfully ignorant til age 29.  Now, I'm 43 with a partner of 10 years and two adopted sons.  I'm so out that sometimes I forget that everyone I meet doesn't know.  So I'm still surprised sometimes that I have to keep coming out.  Coming out is a process that never, ever ends.  I had to come out to someone just yesterday.  I'm also reminded that coming out is a never-ending process for my family as well.  My mom now lives in rural Tennessee and when we went to visit, she had all the neighbors over for a cookout.  When one of them asked my partner and I if we "lived close by each other in Dallas" it dawned on us that they were all clueless.  We just smiled and nodded, "yes, we are very close."  And giggled.  That's my mom's coming-out journey.  Can't do it for her.

  •  Thank you for this beautiful diary. (7+ / 0-)

    I have met and befriended several gay men on dKos. I never thought of homosexuality as a sin or wrong prior to these friendships, but I also had never taken the time to consider, how important it is to have your deep caring for another individual recognized by society. We are all different in some way.

    I think I'd be depressed too if I grew up in the stifling environment you described. My mom was the single schizophrenic mother of four and that was tough at times. But she sure appreciated individuality in others. And she worked hard to make me feel okay about being me.

    Diaries like this one help people like me to understand how terribly difficult it can be to live with the pressure to coform.

    "Big boss ain't so big, just tall, that's all." And McCain is the boss!

    by TheFatLadySings on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:16:32 AM PDT

  •  I am not Gay (7+ / 0-)

    but appreciate you sharing this with me. Having grown up under the Protestant faith, I have a certain amount of fear instilled in me, in regards to sexuality. One thing that really opened my eyes, was back in the early 90's, when a friend from high school came back around after spending a few years in Florida. He was a very good friend in high school, and nobody would of ever dreamed he was gay back then. The ones we deemed gay, were treated like shit, and he was the main instigator. I am so ashamed of my behavior back then, but when my friend came back from Florida, he told me he had been living a lie. He told me, he couldn't stop the feelings that he had. He shared with me, how when we traded baseball cards, as youngsters, he always valued how attractive the players were, and not by the dollar value of the cards.  He told me, that he quit fighting it in Florida.

    That day, my eyes opened wide to the foolishness of the hate. Yours and others sharing, hopefully will erase the hate one person at a time. Religious upbringing is a very hard thing to erase, and the hate it sometimes breeds is the hardest of all to erase.
    I am a father, and I still worry about them being gay. Not, because of sin or being different. It is the problems that a person faces, from the hate that worries me. I, as a father, don't want to see them suffer because of something they can't control. I hope, I didn't offend anybody with this post, and if I have, I apologize, and my intention was not to offend anybody.

    •  You have not offended anyone, (5+ / 0-)

      Autoworker420, but the fact that you are so open-minded and enlightened on the one hand, and on the other hand are still afraid that one of your sons may turn out gay because you "don't want to see them suffer" says a lot about our society, doesn't it?  We have to keep working to stamp out all discrimination and bigotry in our society against all minorities, gay, straight, black, yellow, brown etc etc.  Only when the day has arrived when NO-ONE, I repeat no-one, has to fear discrimination because of who they are, will we be truly free.

    •  Dont fear your kids being gay (5+ / 0-)

      Fear is the problem here. If one of your kids is gay, be there for them, fight to assure they have equal protections under the law.

      The hate is most harmful when it comes from one's church and family, not strangers.

      01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

      by kimoconnor on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:48:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'll second being there for your children. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      churchylafemme, vacantlook

      The OP talked about the Worldwide Church of God.  The leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, essentially excommunicated his son, Garner Ted; I can't imagine God being this petty.  Unfortunately, I don't have to imagine it about people; my mother saw me as an embarassment for the 30+ years I was out.  Ironically, the only reason I told her was of a blackmail threat - didn't do a very good job, I'm afraid.  Needless to say, this did not enhance the family relationship or my abilities to trust.

      What with alcoholism and drug abuse, even after I got sober, I've been becoming more and more a recluse.  Trust issues royally suck.

      It will always be as easy to cure a person of their religion than of their sexual orientation. Probably easier.

      by grada3784 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:15:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You certainly have not offended me. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      churchylafemme, maren a

      I can totally understand being concerned about how other people might behave toward one's children.  And I can totally recognize the baseball card story, though not specifically baseball cards for me.  Looking back at times, I've realized that points in my life where I was into something I would feel interest in the appearance of a guy without at all understanding (at the time) why.

    •  "The Family Stone" (0+ / 0-)

      I recommend seeing this movie for its incredibly powerful portrayal of love and support for gay children. The parents (Diane Keaton and the guy from Coach) are unflinchingly supportive of their gay son and his partner who are in the process of adopting. The dinner scene with the conversation about not wanting a child to "grow up gay"  in this world makes me tear up every time I see it.

  •  I'm gay too! (10+ / 0-)

    I grew up in a very small town in rural Wisconsin.  I suffered the same insults in high school.  I moved away for college, stayed in the closet during those years, and also suffered from anxiety and depression.  After college, a joined the military in order to get away from home and find a new start.  I was terribly home sick, but if forced me to find myself.  I grew to accept myself and my circumstances.  At age 25 I came out to myself (strange yeah??), and then eventually to one of my sisters later that same year.  

    To make a long story short, I now fully accept myself.  I still have some of the same old anxieties about what some people think, but that has become a small concern now.  I hope that you too can reach that point.

    On a different note, I had a sister-in-law who had the same anxiety about leaving the house.  She saw a professional, got a job, and has now recovered from it.  I hope that you can achieve that as well.  Exercise, weight lifting, and finding a friend or two can go a long way in improving your self worth and self-esteem.  Try to reach out and find a gay friend in your area.  When you gain strength and ability to deal with the anxiety, think about moving to a nearby city.  Its easier when you are around other gay people for support and friendship.

    You are a smart sensitive guy.  I wish you the best.  Know that there are others out there just  like you!  Thank you for sharing your story.  It was powerful and emotional.

  •  Please get psychological help. . . (6+ / 0-)

    There may be a clinic near you that offers low-cost counseling.  I have seen first hand what you are describing, only the person I know is in their 40's, and still living the lie.  But the depression, anxiety, being paralyzed has continued.

    You need to help  yourself!  No one can do it for you.  Please, start living your life.  Don't waste it.  It's a gift.

    All politics is class-warfare.

    by dhfsfc on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:20:39 AM PDT

  •  bless your heart (7+ / 0-)

    You don't owe anything to anybody.  The only thing you owe to yourself is honesty and dignity.  Perhaps you could google an online community of gay/lesbian support groups?  The internet is a lovely thing for that, total anonymity if you wish plus the chance to talk and compare notes with those who know exactly what you feel.

    "And there came a time when the pain of blooming was less than the pain of remaining tightly in the bud."

    Happy birthday.  

  •  Your ex-girlfriend is a treasure. Good luck in (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, grada3784, maren a, gizmo59

    finally meeting someone to share your life with

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:22:43 AM PDT

  •  <3, vacantlook (7+ / 0-)

    I think you're much braver than you think you are.

  •  On Feeling Trapped (5+ / 0-)

    I know that when you feel trapped (in a place, in a situation, in a relationship) the world can seem small and cruel. But it's not. There are big beautiful places out there with big beautiful people, and if you let yourself - if you let yourself let go of all that has come before and teach yourself to live in the way to makes sense to you and for you - then you can join that world. Because you are more powerful than you know. Good luck, and thank you for sharing your story.  

  •  Thank you, vacantlook! (6+ / 0-)

    Great diary!

    I started writing my own diary on coming out but it was getting unwieldy.

    I'm 57 years old and I clearly came out in a very different era and under very different circumstances than vacantlook did.

    No matter who you are, where you are, or how old or young you are, coming out is a lifelong process. I was sexually active and in a relationship before discussing my orientation with my family or co-workers. I have been incredibly fortunate; I have never been rejected by anyone of any importance for being gay; my folks took it in stride when I came out to them at the tender age of 34, which made me wonder why I'd waited so long. Once I was out at work, nobody ever questioned me about it at all. I doubt anyone was surprised. One co-worker in particular confided in me that, thanks to knowing me and a couple of the other gay men in my office, she had overcome her own prejudices.

    I don't really have a problem with the idea of outing public figures who pose as enemies of the gay community for the sake of holding on to power while privately living a gay life. They've forfeited their right to live two lives by taking a public stance against their brothers and sisters. For everyone else, I respect their choice to main in the closet. And yet...

    Yes, there are people who can't be out publicly, but if my own experience says anything at all, it would seem to suggest that any, though by no means all, of those who think they can't be openly gay are in fact mistaken. They are prisoners of their own fears. And perhaps they are overly attached to things that they'd be better off not caring about quite so much.

    I will stand with Harvey Milk on this: Coming out is the most empowering thing one can do as an LBGTQ person. The best way to combat homophobia is to be out and to be proud of who we are.

  •  Heck... this is a good diary (7+ / 0-)

    I'm a lesbian woman... I knew when I was 7 and told my mother when I was 11.  Strangely enough, she didn't believe me and thought it was 'a phase I was going through'. She continued to think that until sometime in my mid thirties when she finally conceded I might not be about to come out the other side.  I, too, grew up in a small village in a school where it wasn't possible to say such things, though not in the mental crucifixion of the church.  

    My spiritual path is broadly Buddhist now: some of the old texts are anti-gay but I don't know a single anti-gay Buddhist and an awful lot of gay ones.  It's a place of peace, and the gods are seen as entities to which one gives grace and gratitude - and they grow with that. If we were to feed them hatred, pain and discrimination, they'd feed on that, too, I think - and become what the god of Abraham has become, in all 3 guises...

    My partner, soon to be my wife (I live in the UK, where civil partnerships are legal), was married for 23 years and had 3 grown up daughters when we met.  She had never considered being lesbian as an option, just knew her marriage was dead in the water.  Telling her daughters was the very hardest thing in all the world.  

    She has a fundamentalist christian step-sister who now refuses to speak to her... the pain of the church seems to stretch endlessly, but from the posts here, it's clear that there is compassion in the world, and care, and you can find them.

    I didn't find actual, real, true heart-felt love 'till I was 42 (now 46).  Don't give up now.  But do try to find a way out of where you are to a new place; the world is huge, and you only get one go at this life, make the most of it.

    Good luck

    Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld, a miracle made possible by John McCain.

    by Airmid on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:27:45 AM PDT

  •  Gay Pride (8+ / 0-)

    Vacantlook, that took a lot of courage to write.   I grew up gay and closeted in a small town in the rural South.  It is a tough place to be.  I too prayed for a year -- every night -- for god to make me straight.  And I as such a "good boy".  I went to church every Sunday, I helped people around me, I tithed.   And I cried a lot because I thought I was the only person like this in the whole world.   When god failed to make me straight -- which was what he was supposed to want to do since gay was "bad", I started questioning religion a little more fully.   It seems that many of them are the bad ones.  

    When I got out of high school, I decided to leave the small town I was in.   I moved to a big city and took the first job I could find.  I've had good and bad relationships.   But I learned a lot about people, about being gay and all the incarnations that lifestyle creates, and more importantly -- I learned about myself, my shyness and my shame.  

    I know it is tough to leave home.  But you might consider taking a trip to someplace like:
    Atlanta: Midtown
    San Francisco: The Castro
    Los Angeles: West Hollywood (where I live)
    Chicago: Boys Town

    These are places where nobody thinks twice if you are gay.  They are places where you will find yourself surrounded by gay men who have overcome their shame and found pride in their strength.  (Note: Play safe.)  

    There is a whole OTHER (and frankly Better) world beyond where you now live.  In this world being gay isn't a handicap, it is just a one more subtle difference that makes us all unique.  

    Speaking of pride, as a gay man you fall in the same category asLeonardo da Vinci, Alexander the Great,  Socrates, and Michelangelo  (click any name for a longer list).

    Here's a quick film listing some famous gays.  

    I have about 100 more things to say to you.  But in this format, there's just no time.  

    I do wish you luck.   I've been where you are.  And it is a much more exciting, enjoyable and fulfilling life when you get beyond it.  But that takes courage.   You have enough courage to be who you are... to no lie to your girlfriend and make her life miserable.  (I applaud you for that.)  Keep going in that direction.  

    Where I have ended up:  Far from the rural south, living in Southern California.  Next week I marry the most wonderful man.  When we exchange vows we will be surrounded by 40 of our closest friends and family.   And we just bought a house together.    

    Life can get better.  

    Never give up.  

  •  nobody should hate what they were born to be (6+ / 0-)

    self-hatred sometimes offends me more than hatred between people. and it really makes me sad to hear how society encourages people to hate themselves, and the emotional and physical toll it takes. i admire your courage for coming out and finally learning to accept yourself.

    for what it's worth, I know a little bit of what it means to shrug off the prejudices you grew up with. i grew up in a moderately liberal Christian household that put a lot of emphasis on charity and compassion. but my mom didn't believe homosexuality was legitimate, and probably still doesn't really. i remember hitting high school and everything changed. more than any single argument or book, the most effective thing was meeting gay people, or friends of friends who had grown up with gay parents. when you realize how essentially human a group of people are, it's impossible to hate them.

    i can't tell you enough: you coming out is so important. not just to be honest with yourself, but to show the world that it's okay for everybody.

    I double-dog-dare John McCain to call Obama a terrorist to his face.

    by danthrax on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:28:07 AM PDT

  •  Wonderful Diary. (4+ / 0-)

    Your courage is an example to us all.

  •  Perhaps you would view leaving your area (5+ / 0-)

    as running away.  But it might be a good thing for you, to get a brand new start.  God doesn't hate gays.  He loves everyone in every circumstance.  There are many people out there / in here who respect and support you.  Keep the faith.

    Somewhere in Texas a Village is missing its Idiot.

    by RoddieH on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:28:45 AM PDT

  •  A great gay therapist (7+ / 0-)

    The southeast Michigan community is fortunate to have a top notch therapist, Joe Kort. He's written some book and has a great website.  Maybe he can recommend someone near you.

  •  As a middle-aged straight guy... (9+ / 0-)

    ...I am proud of you for telling your story so completely and honestly, and I'll tell you that it will get better.

    This is a hell of a world, and you've been through a hell of an upbringing, and you're figuring out how to tell your story (which is a hell of a story, by the way).  Once you tell your story enough, you'll be able to find compassion for your oppressors, and you will rise above the torments that shaped your life.

    And while you and I may never meet in person, I wish for you a life with love, joy, music and fulfillment -- a life well lived.  You deserve it.

    Thanks again for your story.  Good luck.  Keep us informed, and let us know if we can help.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:30:05 AM PDT

  •  I am trying to imagine (4+ / 0-)

    how this diary would have gone down on the wing-nut sites...

    it's so, so good to be here...

    thanks, vacantlook, for starting this off

    Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld, a miracle made possible by John McCain.

    by Airmid on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:32:08 AM PDT

  •  I'm gay (10+ / 0-)

    Yup, me too.  How many gay Kossacks do we have on this site anyhoo?  We should get a survey.

    "F*CK BUSH!" -- Mahatma Gandhi (sourced anonymously through the NY Times)

    by Magicmike888 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:33:25 AM PDT

  •  Great diary (7+ / 0-)

    Happy coming out day!

    I'm 24 and gay as well.  

  •  {{{{{{{vacantlook}}}}}}} (9+ / 0-)

    thanks for the diary!!! FWIW, the God I believe in doesn't hate ANYBODY, and He definitely LOVES YOU!

  •  The damage people do to LGBTs is criminal (8+ / 0-)

    Here in California we are fighting to keep voters from enabling a constitutional amendment taking away marriage rights from us, rights that we have fought for for many years.

    They are running ads on TV suggesting that if they do not take away these rights from people like me, the schools will teach 2nd graders that it is OK to dream of marrying a person of the same sex.

    The entire theme is that the notion that a child would grow up and be gay and lucky enough to find a life partner is something we should FEAR.

    I too grew up with parents would speak of gays as if they were horrible sick people. People are fighting to be allowed to teach their children how horrible being gay is, and fighting against a school from treating gays equally as valuable as human beings.

    These people care nothing about the possibility of the kids in these classes who might be gay. They think they will help if they denounce being gay, as if it is something one can simply turn off.

    Hearing stories like this makes me wish man never invented religion.

    What they did to you is CRIMINAL. They literally stopped your life dead in it's tracks.

    Freedom of religion is one thing, destroying people because they are gay is not freedom, it is criminal. Or it should be.

    01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

    by kimoconnor on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:44:31 AM PDT

  •  You and I have a lot in common. (6+ / 0-)

    Except that I'm married, my Dad was a great guy, and no one ever told me being gay was wrong.  You can overcome the anxiety.

    Right-wingers who clamor for war and oppose universal health care are not "pro-life" and don't get to say they're "pro-life." It's a lie. Night Train

    by peterborocanuck on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:46:46 AM PDT

  •  Congratulations and Thanks! (6+ / 0-)

    You've taken a huge step today and given us all a magnificent gift. I'm trying not to have tears as I write this.

    I grew up in MS, in a small town, was Southern Baptist, the whole schmear, and this was back in the sixties.

    My father was an addicted gambler; mom was an insecure, paranoid, Bible-believing (literal) Christian; older brother sexually molested me; and on and on.

    I knew and worked with Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary, who founded Coming Out Day. They were special people and had their own painful stories to tell.

    I hope that you can get to a different locale where there are more options for therapy, education, and a social milieu that's more accepting. Meds and therapy can help, so give them another chance or three or four, until it clicks for you. I, too, have had the "grocery store panic" feelings and beat myself up for it. Meds and therapy made me well.

    Please don't minimize your father's alcoholism (and your anger at him) as a factor in your anxiety and depression. Later, you might discover that he was fighting some of the same "demons" you are. If there is a Children of Alcoholics group nearby, that could help.

    I wish you all the luck in the world and will say a special prayer for you. You write very well. You have a compelling way with words. The world awaits your arrival.

  •  A good friend from my high-school years... (6+ / 0-)

    ...was a fine singer-songwriter.  He was vigorously out as a high-school student in the 1970s, which took a lot of guts.  Kids would yell "faggot" at him, and he'd turn around, strike a pose, and say, "That's Mister Faggot to you!"

    He wrote a song called "Honest to God I'm Gay" which went like this:

    Granted I don't lisp when I talk
    and granted I don't swish when I walk
    and your little boy I don't often stalk,
    but honest to god I'm gay.

    I don't often dress in satin and pearls
    and I'm often seen dancing with the girls
    and my laughter doesn't sound like a squirrel's
    but honest to god I'm gay.

    Now many a time I'll say I'm gay,
    and someone will say "no way!
    You look like a man and your wrist doesn't bend!"
    and I'll turn to them and say:

    You've been reading Reuben's book
    and you never bothered to take a look
    at all the things that he mistook...
    because honest to god I'm gay.

    If you would only open your eyes
    I know you'd get a great big surprise
    for all the folks that you deny:
    honest to god they're gay!

    Now I knew a man who would not believe
    when I said I was gay back when,
    so after a year, I goosed his rear --
    He won't disbelieve again!

    Gay folks come from everywhere
    and though you may think that you don't care,
    if you looked in your hearts tell me what would you do
    if you found one inside of you?

    Now some folks say that I am okay
    'cause I didn't turn out the swishy way
    but if I wore a dress would you listen to me
    say that gay's an okay way to be?

    Now some folks say that I'm not like them
    but that puts up a wall between us...
    "Being gay is okay, being sissy is bad?"
    If that's true, I don't want my penis!

    (you can have it, but what would you do with it?)

    I bet you know of some man who
    possesses the male virility true --
    believe him if he says to you:
    "Honest to god I'm gay!"

    Chris died in an automobile accident about twenty-five years ago.  For many of us, he was the first openly gay person we knew, and a splendid role model for being comfortable with one's self and one's sexuality.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:52:22 AM PDT

  •  your gay? (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    upstate NY

    so what?  I don't care.  Do you care that I'm heterosexual?  

    "The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means." OscarWilde

    by graylight on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:52:30 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for your courage (6+ / 0-)

    in sharing this story. I'm sorry about your father and brother, but I'm glad to hear that some of your family support you now. I'll bet you make a difference in at least a few people's lives by sharing this.

  •  there's hope (6+ / 0-)

    thank you for the diary. my advice to you would be to move out to california where i live. there are lots of cool people here. you need to live in a community where you will feel normal. you need to make friends and be engaged in a community that doesn't judge you. come to san francisco. leave home.

    my heart goes out to you.

    •  Leave home??? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      churchylafemme, vacantlook, grada3784

      I was going to give the same advice, but given his anxiety, lack of job and presumably job skills, that might be an ill advised move at this time.  Small steps:  counceling, job, friends, in that order.  You need some skills and supports to take on a big move, IMO.

      •  job (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        churchylafemme, grada3784

        once you get a job it is harder to make a move.

        You need some skills and supports to take on a big move, IMO.

        a lot of that is in your mind. i have moved to places w/kid in tow w/only a backpack. when your young, you can do anything. there's nothing like cutting off the apron strings and just making the dive. it's a big world out there. there is also counseling in san francisco. and support groups.

        how much in terms of job skills does it take to get a job at a cafe? this person needs social skills more than job skills imho. he needs love and support from like minded people

      •  I have to agree... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ronald Singleterry

        ...for me to get better, I do need to do it by small steps.  If I moved, I would lose the comparatively small support structure (my mom, my best friend) that I have now.

  •  Here's to the day (6+ / 0-)

    when coming out is no more difficult than announcing a favorite football team.

    Good luck and treat yourself to a visit to a gay community sometime.

  •  I hear you (5+ / 0-)

    on the anxiety. I was the same way all through middle and high school (even though I am not gay), and to some degree I still have it to this day. Somehow, though (thank whatever supernatural powers there may be), I did get better than I was. Know hope: it's possible.

    And never give up.

    "'Politics' is made up of two words. 'Poli,' which is Greek for 'many,' and 'tics,' which are bloodsucking insects." --Gore Vidal

    by Illissius on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:56:13 AM PDT

  •  Coming Out/Family Values (7+ / 0-)

    My coming out created an interesting contrast in family values.   My partner and I raised two daughters, now 27 and 24.  We have been together for a quarter century, and our elder daughter is a minister.  She officiated at our wedding in June, which took place in our backyard garden here in California.  Our 5 year old granddaughter was ring bearer.  Our younger daughter held our 8 month old grandson as she and our son-in-law looked on.  He later gave the toast.  Our gay and straight friends gathered for a small reception in our home.  WE received cards and good wished from neighbors, far-flung friends, relatives and former employees.  Absent without acknowledgement?  My parents, who refused to send a card, or even talk about it.  Why?  We were gay and violated their sense of family values, which include their ostracizing and refusal to meet their great-grandchildren.  Ah, family values.

  •  You Are Not Alone (7+ / 0-)

    I understand how you have been driven to this place in your life. I hope it helps a little to know that there are millions and millions and millions of people who KNOW that you are a child of god, a good and decent human being, that you deserve to find joy and peace in your life and that wish you freedom from the chains of fear and abuse that still bind you. God bless and keep you.

  •  Try the NOT COMING OUT CHALLENGE (12+ / 0-)

    I have a long time gay friend who never came out at work.  He worked for a company that was bought out by Motorola, and the Intel for 10 years and never once revealed that he was gay to his coworkers.

    Around the time that he pointed this out to me, I started a new job.  I decided that I was going to see how long I could go without saying anything that would reveal my sexual orientation.  I'm heterosexual.

    Being heterosexual, you never have to think about it.  You don't even notice the first time you say something that reveals your sexual orientation. I was able to stay in the straight closet for only three months.

    We were talking about what we did over the weekend.  I can't recall how the conversation went, but I got to a point where it would have been very awkward not to mention having done something with my girlfriend.  It would have seemed bizarre and people might have found it suspicious.  I was actually worried that if I didn't say "girlfriend," they might think I was gay (which would have been bad in this group).

    I escaped possible scurrilous rumors by just saying "girlfriend."  Had it been a "boyfriend," I now would have been on the hook to maintain this ruse.  I'm not someone who is comfortable lying.

    The only other way to avoid that moment would have been to foresee the problem much earlier in the conversation and just steer clear of any context where I might have to discuss my weekend in any detail.  The easiest way to do that would have simply been to avoid social interaction with my coworkers.  Being "the guy who never talks to anyone" isn't a good career move.

    So I challenge all my fellow heterosexuals to try this.  Try it at a new job, or a party with people you don't know or any other situation where you're the new guy or gal.  You will soon learn how awful it is to live in a world where you are compelled to conceal a basic and natural part of who you are.

    It's an eye-opener.

    •  when you're gay/lesbian (4+ / 0-)

      you get very, very good at 'gender-neutral' conversations... and very good at noticing them in others.  It's harder in other languages, but in English (at least in England), it's fairly easy to say 'we', 'my partner', my 'other half', 'my beloved', and to use the pronoun 'they'.

      so, so many people make the straight assumption that it can be years literally, before they start to ask questions.

      I haven't done it - I don't need to, or at least, never tried, except in very brief conversations where it's not worth the brain-collision it'll cause, but I've watched it in others....

      it's a way of living.  I hate it.  but sometimes, it's necessary

      Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld, a miracle made possible by John McCain.

      by Airmid on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:34:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Everything is easier with practice (5+ / 0-)

        It makes sense that after a while, you develop social habits that keep things running smoothly without disclosing anything or resorting to falsehoods.

        Having experienced this with no practice or planning was really jarring though.  As a newbie, you realize what a crime it is that anyone would have to become acclimatized to filtering their conversations in such a manner.

        Also, there are times when things that are necessary are just necessary.  I live in Texas and there's a lot of other things I have to stay in the closet about.  Liberal Christian?  It's easier to just let them think I'm either a "washed in the blood" Baptist or an atheist. The President of my Toastmasters Club has no problem telling anyone that she's a lesbian, but she keeps quiet about being a Democrat.

        •  Oh man, this is SO true (0+ / 0-)

          I live in Texas too and I keep quiet about my political leanings with certain people. It's easier not to say anything. These are people you have to get along with and it's impossible to change some people's minds.

          It's not always easy not voting Republican in Texas.

  •  I think coming to terms (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784

    with one's sexuality, when it's different that what one perceives as "normal" can be painful and difficult for anyone.

    Being able to cope with that has a lot to do with having some core "self" that one values, and loves.  Without that core "knowing" that one has worth, coming to terms with being gay (or any other difficult life challenges) might be virtually impossible.

    In other words, your sexuality may not be the root of your problem, nor the cause of your anxiety disorder.

    Healing is probably possible.  But it takes a long time.  And first it takes finding the right tools.

    Perhaps blogging about your feelings and experience can be one of those tools.  I know it has been for me.  And don't worry about rambling.  That's kind of the point.  

    Thank you for sharing your story, and I wish you all the best in finding a path to healing.

  •  Great Diary (5+ / 0-)

    I wish you the best.

    A revolution is coming... We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability. -- RFK

    by CK7 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:11:30 AM PDT

  •  I can't wait for the day.. (6+ / 0-)

    When nobody even thinks to add the word "openly" to describe their sexuality.

    Kudos to you, sir, for putting your story here for everyone to see.  I wish you nothing but the best in life.

  •  Thank you for sharing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784

    I really hope you continue to find your way to happiness.  From your story, it's clear that many of your current problems stem not from your sexuality, but from the other issues of emotional trauma from your childhood.  If there is any way you could seek out some counseling -- books are helpful but a good therapist is even more so -- then I hope you do.

    I was also raised in a very anti-gay church/school (I am straight), so I understand the pressures that "religious" people put upon the young to conform.  But my own understanding of Christianity -- and I am still a PROUD BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN -- is that homosexual love is not a sin, and that a church should welcome everyone in love.  (When Paul condemns "homosexuals" in the New Testament, he's actually referring to people who abuse same-sex slaves and prostitutes, the same way he condemns heterosexual adulterers).  If you DID find anything redeeming in the Christian faith, I hope you haven't lost that; if you have, then I hope you find faith elsewhere, because you deserve the comfort of faith.

    Again, thank you for sharing, bless you, and I really hope your remaining time on this earth is full of love, beauty and peace.

    The smallest glimmer of truth is conditioned by politics. -- Michel Foucault

    by FreedomRider on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:20:28 AM PDT

  •  happy belated birthday, diarist! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784, LynneK

    yours and mine occurred the same date.

    I wish you a future that is better than the past.

    I'm another Edwards Democrat

    by BlackSheep1 on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:20:33 AM PDT

  •  hugs (5+ / 0-)

    Keep working on dealing with anxiety.  I can get better, and you can come out and enjoy the world.  There are a lot of good people out here.

  •  You have a lot to offer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784

    Thank you for telling your story.  I'm so glad you came out and are comfortable with yourself.  But you are a young man with so much to offer to the world, to a partner and to yourself.  

    Is there a way you could get some counseling?  Your anxiety may be related to your abusive childhood, or it may be chemical; a therapist can help you sort that out.  A have a good friend who has anxiety issues, and she is now doing very well thanks to talking to a therapist and taking some mild anti-anxiety medication.

    You sound like such a wonderful person.  The world deserves a chance to get to know you!

  •  You are likely one of the bravest kossacks here (7+ / 0-)

    My anxiety is so bad that I rarely leave my house.  I never finished college, and I've never had a job.  It makes me feel like a complete and total loser

    It takes more than guts and courage to write your story - warts and all -

    so I have no doubt that when you look at yourself in the mirror from now on - that you will be able to say


    within your own 4 walls is no life -- so set yourself free and

    and get on with your life -- you deserve it.

    "Proud to proclaim: I am a Bleeding Heart Liberal"

    by sara seattle on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:29:27 AM PDT

    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sara seattle, vacantlook

      He has good insight and awareness.  That is the first step, and IMO, half the battle.  The next step is taking action, and that means stepping out side of his comfort zone.  He needs to get out of the house (hell, go read a book at a coffee shop, just get out of the house).  Take small steps, but definitely take steps.

  •  Touching diary! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784, LynneK

    You shouldn't hide from the world. It's not fair to the rest of us. I'm sure you've heard this before, but being afraid of the outside, only lets your dad and those evil boys from school win. Try to adjust your mindset. Take a trip out to the store, not for yourself, but for the thousands of children confined to wheelchairs, that can't walk. Or the Veterans we have in the same situation. I used to whine about my life and obsess over the smallest problems. I read that book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff,... and it's all Small Stuff. That helps until something HUGE happens in your life. Anyway, later on I saw how brave these young children were, who were confined to wheelchairs. They had daily medicine to take, and a laundry list of surgeries. Just seeing their attitude, shamed me into changing my own. Their triumph made me want to be like them, enjoy the good, and do what I can to be happy and help ppl.

    My story is like yours, I'm not gay, but I was picked on in school. I remember when the first day of 10th grade came around, I went to go see my friends. I hadnt seen them all summer because I was out of town. They told me that maybe I shouldn't hang out with them, they had decided not to be my friend. It was the meanest thing I'd ever heard of or seen, and I had been picked on plenty up to that point.

    It hurt bad, I still choke up thinking about it, but I walked around the school for a couple days and met some new friends. Who treated me right and I was much better off. The hurt will always be there but you can defeat it. Thanks for sharing your story!

  •  please don't give up on finding love. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, grada3784, LynneK

    we all have terrible experiences with shitty relationships.

    somewhere out there is the perfect man for you.

    chin up!

  •  love and peace to you and believe in your self (6+ / 0-)

    You are on the right track and I believe that you will do better.  The damage that social prejudice  has done to you is deep and  harsh but you have a family that accepts you now and an innate belief that you are a valuable person.  Please remember to tell your self that anyone who has the awareness to ponder if they are evil probably is just  the opposite. An evil being would not care or wonder at all.
    You pondered your self worth because you do have it.  That relflectiveness is an indication that you are thoughtful and have value to contribute.  Take care.   Have you thought of moving to a less hostile place? THey are support groups and hotlines in every state that could at least end the social isolation.

    Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice won't get fooled again. George Bush

    by ganymeade on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:44:23 AM PDT

  •  I'm heterosexual . . . there, I've said it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme, vacantlook, grada3784

    Why should only gay people be subjected to this kind of thing?  

    I've decided to come out, in solidarity with my gay friends.

    Therefore, ahem, I am heterosexual.  There, I've said it.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." --H.L. Mencken

    by JCWilmore on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:44:35 AM PDT

  •  I don't think that I can add (6+ / 0-)

    anything more than what some of the other wonderful commenters have said, but thank you for telling your story.  I'm straight, but have seen several friends go through the process of coming out and I know how confusing and painful it can be.  I'm sure that there will always be an inner sense of conflict as a maturing adolescent realizes they are gay, but let's just hope in our lifetime that that the external societal conflicts disappear, and that a whole new generation will never know that homosexuals were ever ostracized.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:45:17 AM PDT

  •  I'm Not. So? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Have a good life.  

    If that is so, then we must tend our own gardens then.

    by Otherday on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 10:45:56 AM PDT

  •  It is so obviously not a choice or lifestyle... (7+ / 0-)
    It is so obviously not a choice or lifestyle...

    I have always been straight.

    I am a guy. I always preferred to make out and have sex with women.

    I don't blame my parents or the way I was brought up. No trauma or anything like that.

    It is not a choice I made.  
    It is not a lifestyle.
    It is just the way I have always been.
    It is justthe way I was made.
    It Just the way I am
    It is just the way I turned out to be.

    Just sayin'

    Peace and love to all.

  •  I'm so sorry for your pain. (7+ / 0-)

    And I hope that telling your story helps to heal you in some way. You are deserving of love and respect, even... and most especially... from yourself.    

    We are healed of a suffering only by expressing it to the full.

    Marcel Proust - Novelist, Essayist, and Critic

  •  Ewww! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, grada3784

    Someone gave the "gay" to me, too. Must have gotten it from a drinking fountain or by kissing a boy.

  •  God bless you. (5+ / 0-)

    He/she loves you just the way you are. I believe that 100 percent.

    There's nothing more un-Christian than many Christians.

    "Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

    by redstatebluegirl on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:00:36 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for sharing your story. It was (6+ / 0-)

    very poignant and beautifully written. You have endured so much - I hope you realize how strong and courageous you are. As for your dad and brother, there's a reason they have that expression about not being able to choose your family but being able to choose your friends. I'm glad your mom and sister support you. I'm glad you have a best friend who loves you. Most of all, I'm glad you are strong enough to know who you are. So many people go through live without ever realizing that - and I'm not just talking about knowing whether they are gay or not, I'm talking about knowing who they are at their core. You do, and you should revel in that.

    Thanks again for sharing your story.

    -5.25, -6.31 "Fascism is capitalism plus murder." - Upton Sinclair

    by butchergirl on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:00:57 AM PDT

  •  So many stories like yours... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kalmoth, vacantlook, grada3784, LynneK

    How can ANYone believe people "choose" to be gay?

    Especially when the teenage years are "conform to the crowd or die".

  •  I hope my kids trust me enough (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, grada3784, LynneK

    to tell me their problems before they get them so hurt.

    You are not evil, you just grew up in a very evil place that doesn't respect people and their choices

    And did I tell you the name of the game boy ? It's called riding the gravy train...

    by lawnorder on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:07:06 AM PDT

  •  Please read - re: meds and symptoms (9+ / 0-)

    Hi vacantlook-
        I can't thank you enough for the diary you wrote, it was so powerful to read all that. I feel like I went through many similar situations (at least with coming out, though I didn't have a physically abusive parent). But that's not why I'm writing.
        I too have suffer from anxiety, with enormous OCD symptoms that often made it difficult to do just about anything. Being gay, and having to deal with all that, left me also with all sorts of questions about how much the OCD was caused by such things.
        That said, after over 5 years of pretty crippling symptoms, I finally overcame my fear of taking medication for my OCD/generalized anxiety, and it really changed everything. And I'm writing this both as a gay man, but also as someone who has worked in the counseling fields (though I'm not a doctor). Meds work, and they change lives, and make it so you can find ways to deal with the causes of the anxiety for long term gain.  
        From what you've described with medication, its very likely you haven't found yet what works for you. Your situation sounds like it would be helped ENORMOUSLY by an SSRI. If you find the right one, within 6-8 weeks you could potentially see an ENORMOUS reduction in anxiety. Not perfect, mind you, but life-altering. Things just somehow become easier, for what seems like no reason. Sometimes it takes a while to find the one that clicks, but once it does, it is worth it!
        I'm not surprised that Buspar and Wellbutrin didn't work for you - wellbutrin in particular is mostly good for depression, and buspar rarely works on symptomal anxieties. Trazodone is good but creates such drowsiness that's its actually often used just for sleep problems, as you've described, but at doses that do little for the underlying causes.
        Paxil is one example of an SSRI. But firstly, it can take up to 2-3 months for benefits of such medications to show. Secondly, when one SSRI doesn't work, often another will! Trying one is not enough!! Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa - all these share the same 'basic' mechanism of action, but are slightly different, and those slight differences often make all the difference in the world.
        Furthermore, if these still don't work (and one or many are likely to do wonders), its possible you weren't on a high enough dosage. The effective dose for depression is often much lower than for anxiety, phobias, etc. Without taking high enough doses, its very likely you saw nothing.
        Also, lots of people benefit from a low-dose add on daily help from a second medication from the valium family (klonopin, xanax), and at low doses, there's no sense of being 'dazed' or anything like that.  And such meds can also be taken before anxiety causing situations (like needing to leave the house) to get an extra bit of help when you need it.
        In addition, if a regular SSRI doesn't cut it, there are other medications that are SSRI's with a 'kick' for 'treatment resistant' anxiety issues. I'm currently taking Effexor, an SSNRI, very closely related to things like Paxil, but that worked when Zoloft, in my case, didn't. It has been a godsend. And there are other such 'second tier' meds to try when SSRI's don't work - cymbalta, remeron, lamictal, TCA's (clomipramine, imipramine), atypical neuroleptics (abilify, risperdal), etc. If one doesn't work, try another up the chain. One of them certainly will. And then sometimes if one doesn't work, it can sometimes be made to work by 'augmenting' with another at low doses to 'kick start' it. And the difference is often night and day.
        I'm not saying that meds can do everything, but they allow you the freedom to get in the new life situations that can make things better. They can make getting to therapy and to school a real possibility. They can make finding a boyfriend much, much easier. They can give you your life back. Trust me, I know! And yes there can be side effects, but most go away enough after a short while to make it worthwhile.
        Sounds like you need a good, caring professional to help you try out some new meds. Symptoms can be crippling. And as gay folks, they who knows if we got them from having to grow up with so much bullshit. But either way, we certainly don't need more on top of the difficulties of coming out.
        I'm only a few years older than you, and I was incredibly moved by your story. Anxiety is horrible, crippling. Fight the good fight - it will get better. I hope anything above is helpful! And thanks again for an amazing diary.


    "so this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause"

    by from the puggle on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:11:54 AM PDT

    •  That was an awesome summation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Vacant Look, you should copy and print this comment above out and take it to a neurologist or psychiatrist who handles gay clients (yes, you're allowed to ask), and ask her/him to help you find your right combination.

      Pharmceuticals can be our friends (though drug companies usually aren't, so start with generics before going to brand name meds).

      Won't it be nice to have a SMART President?

      by ibonewits on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:11:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thank you (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, grada3784, ibonewits, LynneK

    for telling your story. There's parts of it that echo the stories of so many gay friends over the decades, and it still hurts to see how much pain and self-hatred that has caused for so many good people.

    People with more knowledge and ability that I have told you to don't give up, to find comfort and yes, pride, in your life and your struggles, and I add my voice to theirs.

    As my thank you to your courage in writing this, I send love and peace to your spirit, may you find happiness and joy in the years to come.

    and I just made a small donation to the anti-Prop 8 org in California in your honor.

  •  Beautifully written - Happy Coming out Day! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, grada3784
  •  You are so loved! (5+ / 0-)

    I get pretty worked up thinking about what was done to you. I have two gay brothers and a straight one. My kids and my younger brothers' kids have the absolute best uncles who shower them with affection and support and unconditional love. My parents ended up having all the grandchildren they can handle and they love them endlessly. The real sins of the world occur when individuals disrespect each other and let their selfishness harm others. Greed, dishonesty, violence, theft, not helping others, being complicit to hatred such as homophobia or racism or sexism or classism by not confronting it, abusing or manipulating trust or dependence to benefit oneself or exploit others - these are sins. You have a very big family of people who love you. You may not know them yet, or have not yet met a very special one who you are in love with, but we're here. Sharing your story may just lead to meeting others who may not want to move in with you the next day, but who might become another member of your family. Maybe even one you fall in love with.

  •  Thanks for sharing May God Bless you and give you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, gizmo59, filby

    peace and joy. :)

  •  you're not anxious & depressed because you're gay (7+ / 0-)

    I went through a period of bad Depression (medication did help me, but finally finding friends -- and a lover! -- helped far more) ... My mother would say I was depressed Because I Was Gay. She didn't mean anything bad by it; she turned out to be a PFLAG mom. But I wasn't depressed because I was gay -- I was depressed because I was desperately lonely and felt rejected and internalized societal hatred and feared the reactions of friends and strangers to my real self.

    I went to the wedding of a friend last weekend. His father gave a toast in which he said he woke in the middle of the night and heard his son weeping. He tiptoed to his son's room and asked what was the matter. So son came out to him. It's OK, said Dad; Dad went back to bed, told Mom. Both Mom & Dad were quietly horrified but pledged to be supportive. Dad wanted to emphasize how proud he is now of son & son's spouse.

    You had a bad boyfriend experience. I'm sorry to hear that. Sadly, there are a lot of bad boyfriends to be had. (Ask any het girl.) I improved my prospects a lot when I moved from my small Northern California town to Berkeley. Much better!

  •  And you're telling us this why? (0+ / 0-)

    "So, I hope I've been able to provide some of that material for understanding here."

    Doubtful. This is a place populated by liberal Democrats who are big on tolerance and diversity and likely two steps ahead of you on the understanding scale.

    The diary does not use the personal history to focus on government policy (civil rights, health care, public education) that would make for a legitimate tie to a political discussion group.

    With thousands (gays and straights) losing their jobs and retirement money, the diary seems out of place, disconnected from the purpose of the forum, and a bit self involved.  No different than if someone posted about their ten year battle with obesity or depression.

  •  Great diary! (5+ / 0-)

    It made me cry! It took a lot of courage for you. Best of luck!


    "We don't throw the first punch, but we'll throw the last." --Barack Obama, Oct. 6, 2008

    by Luthien Tinuviel on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:34:16 AM PDT

  •  Courageous Southerner (5+ / 0-)

    I applaud you for your strength and courage.  It is difficult coming out most places, but in the south, it can be very scary.  

    Best wishes for finding happiness and satisfaction.

  •  My dh grew up in the WWCG. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, LynneK, gizmo59

    I'm so sorry.  They did a major mind fuck on him, too.

    A female candidate is no substitute for a candidate who cares about women.

    by kkmama on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:40:59 AM PDT

  •  Thanks vacantlook. Best wishes to you for a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larry Bailey, vacantlook, gizmo59

    great future. I'm sorry for all the misery you went through.

    "I count on the American people to refuse to be shamed any more". Helen Thomas, May 2, 2008 on the subject of torture

    by flumptytail on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:47:44 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing your story (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, LynneK, dabug

    I know your life has been an incredibly difficult journey for you. It may not seem like it right now, but I know that the journey can be worth it for you in the end.

    I strongly encourage you to continue trying to get psychological counseling. The most important thing is to try finding a therapist that you can trust to share your most intimate feelings with. If the next therapist is not a good match in a couple of sessions, find another. And another. Until you find the right one.

    Don't give up on medications. There are many different meds to help with depression and anxiety and could be very helpful along with psychotherapy. Finding a medication/dosage that works for you is more art than science.

    You are worth the effort. Let me share the lyrics from one of my favorite songs from a friend who is a folk singer (and wonderful human being) in Alaska:

    How could anyone ever tell you
    You were anything less than beautiful?
    How could anyone ever tell you
    You were less than whole?
    How could anyone fail to notice
    That your loving is a miracle?
    How deeply you're connected to my soul?

    by Libby Roderick

    Although I have not experienced anything like your pain, it was a long and difficult process for me as an adult to shed the repressive and guilt-ridden "faith" which I was saddled with as a child. As a middle aged man I am now completely recovered from Christianity.

    I saw a quote the other day which I now hold to be true: "Faith is for skeptics". In other words, faith is for people who are, for whatever reason, skeptical of the reality presented by empirical evidence of the world around them.

  •  Wish I could talk to you personally and... (4+ / 0-)

    ...listen to you describe more of the feelings you've endured for your 29 years...and comfort you that you're not were never's just that you didn't know there were so many who were in the same boat.  And I'm talking about the anxiety of existence you've experienced, not your being gay.  How often I've known close ones who can describe moments of anxiety that mirror yours.  There's a way to walk through that fog, but it can't be communicated here, so I'm hoping the young person I'm reading here will find the support you need to find your way through that fog. Oh that you could relax, find the deep breaths, and feel the horrible grip of anxiety loosen.

    No Way, No How, No McCain-Palin.

    by Larry Bailey on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:50:40 AM PDT

  •  I'm sorry you had to go through all that. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, boofdah

    I totally feel you on the anxiety thing, I have it less bad, but still, forcing myself to do stuff that other people seem to do so easily is frustrating.

    I really hope that things only get better for you from here out.  

  •  WCG survivor also (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, gizmo59

    Thanks for your personal story. I grew up in the WCG also. Even went to AC. One of the best decisions I ever made was to leave that behind. I, too, am an agnostic now. It sounds like you are suffering (as we all do), but I'm proud of you for being more in touch with who you are rather than living your life for someone else's dogma. Peace to you, brother. You are going to be OK.

    •  My brother went to AC for a while. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's where he met his wife.  Though it was back before I was of college-considering age, I remember feeling a bit of pressure from the church that I should go to AC.  I never did because I ceased feeling as connected to the church before that decision was upon me, though I still attended local (local=70 miles away) services.

      I do feel like I'm ok, but I want to be great.  Despite the gay anthem-iness of it, I know that "I will survive".  I but survival isn't enough; I want to thrive.

      Thanks for the camaraderie ye WWCG survivor.

  •  I hope it is OK, as I used my diary (7+ / 0-)

    For something else, not knowing at first to use it as a coming out story... to post my coming out story here?

    If not please HR me, as I mean to not break any rules for posting something where it should not be posted.

    I am 39, and I knew I was "different" when I was 9. I grew up in Metro Detroit. My family was middle middle class Reform Jewish. I lived, for most of my life, as a kid, in an upper middle class higher-concentration Jewish suburb of Detroit.

    I did not plan to come out when I did but I sort of had it thrust upon me.

    I was a junior in High School and I fell, at the time I thought it was in love, with this person who I will call J. He was what I now picture as the ultimate if I was still attracted to white men. He had wavy dark brown hair. Pale skin. Slender. Brown eyes. He was my world. I dreamt about him. It was a "Puppy Dog Crush" I could not stop thinking of him. Morning. Noon. Night.

    There was only one problem. He was straight.

    I did not feel right having these feelings without being honest to him. So I told him. At first he was not comfortable. But he accepted them and was OK. So for a few weeks my fawning went on. But it just got harder and harder on me. Knowing I could not obtain what meant the world to me.

    So I tried the only way out I knew.

    I OD on pills. But I did something even more stupid. I entrusted the whole story to someone I should not. So he would tell my mom what happened so she would know she did nothing wrong. I also told him about J. Well, I obviously did not die. But word got out about J. He was teased. I was in the hospital for a week. He of course did not want anything to do with me. I was devistated. I did not know what to do.

    So I turned to alcohol to "deal with lost love"

    Back then I had no role models. Gay life in the mid/late 80s was very different then now. I still was not out. J taught me I had to slow everything down. So I pulled the brakes.

    We had no "popular culture figures" to turn to.

    Then I met HIM. I will call him N. It was the whole "Love at first sight" moment. He was driving a friend to the airport. I had no idea what would come, other then love.

    Sure enough weeks later, the friend who was on the way to the airport had a party. N and I were there early. N and I hit it off. But N was very closeted and I was not. We could never date, but N and I hit it off very well. But N was a few years younger then the 20 I was...he was 17. So we were immature and stupid for our age. So in my new group of friends I was slow to come out. But over time I came out to more and more people. But I did not see N for a few years.

    About 3 years later I found out via a very impersonal phone call that went just like this:

    "Hey, Jeremy... you remember N, right?"

    "Of course"

    "Well, he is dead. He hung himself last night. I need to go. Bye"

    I was devistated. I did not know what to do. I did not believe. I could not believe.

    I was just way caught off guard. If it was not for friends I would not have survived. They took me to his funeral. I had never gone to a non-Jewish one before. I had no idea about open caskets before. So of course I was ill-prepared.

    I did not know what to do. I turned, eventually to alcohol. I drank for the next 3 years or so. I averaged about a fifth of vodka a night.

    Finally I managed to pull out of it. I hit bottom.

    Why did I drink? I could not accept the facts

    1. I was in fact gay
    1. The first real person I loved, really loved was dead.

    Since that time I realized and have accepted I am gay.

    I do not need to be in anyone's face about it. I am not radical. People can or cannot accept it. It does not matter to me.

    What matters to me now is that I, I accept it.

    And that is my story of how I came out.

    Time went by but he was my first love, no one was better then N. I still was coming out to people,

    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    by BFSkinner on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 11:57:42 AM PDT

    •  BFSkinner... (5+ / 0-)


      Thank you for sharing your story.

      "We don't throw the first punch, but we'll throw the last." --Barack Obama, Oct. 6, 2008

      by Luthien Tinuviel on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:12:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course it's ok. [hug!] (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      julifolo, BFSkinner

      It's important to share your story, especially if you feel the desire to do so.  I'd say even, consider posting your coming out story tomorrow as a diary, if you so feel inclined to do so.  This reads as very painful, and something people should read.  If someone tried to HRed you for posting this, I'd -- as best as possible over the internet -- kick their ass.

      I sympathize with having coming out thrust upon oneself.  I'm glad that I'm out now, but I really do feel that I was deprived of coming out.  I feel that I was dragged out of the closet.  Again, I'm glad I'm out, but I hated the process as I went through it.  I remember standing in the front yard talking to my best friend about my family -- my brother, sister, and mom -- and their behavior and reaction when it first happened.  I was really angry that they went around talking about me behind my back for the week or so between my brother seeing the book about coming out laying in my room and when I openly acknowledged to my brother and mom that I am gay.

      I also know how it feels to be into a guy who was younger and not ready.  I won't go into more than that.

      •  HUGS and thanks (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vacantlook, julifolo

        Ok, I wrote the diary for tomorrow. I will publish it tonight, I guess.

        I was a lot more detailed...since it was my own diary I guess.

        And thank you for your own story.

        HUGS back to you.

        Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

        by BFSkinner on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 04:58:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not sure if you're still reading, vacantlook (9+ / 0-)

    but thank you so much for writing this.  I am a married straight woman with 2 precious children who have more gay and lesbian people in their lives than straight people.  I still rearrange their toys so that their toy sets have 2 dads or 2 moms or a single parent household instead of the standard male/female figures that come with every playmobil or Lego set .  My husband laughs when I tell him that I sincerely hope one or both of my kids are gay so that there can be more gay kids that don't have parents that are traumatized or shamed by their kids just being who they are.

    I have heard way too many nightmarish coming out stories to count. I am also a pediatric ER doctor and had the absolute pleasure a few weeks ago of taking care of  a teen transgender patient who was weeks away from going to San Francisco for his double mastectomy.  He and his mom literally cried as they left because it was the first time they had been treated with respect by a medical provider.  Which made ME cry with sadness for the intolerance LGBT people face in this country.

    Best wishes to you - know that there are many of us out here, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, who want you to be happy and content with exactly who you are.  Be true to yourself.  Millions of us honor that in you and countless others.

  •  dude (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for having the courage to tell your story and help the next young generation of LGBT know it'll be okay.

    Maybe i'll write my coming out story.

  •  Hey, vacantlook, for what it's worth, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, gizmo59, CDH in Brooklyn

    The people you grew up with were wrong. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with being gay; it's who you are as a person that's important, not who you are attracted to physically or emotionally. I have never understood why people make such a big deal out of sexuality, any way. I wish that I could take the hurt you have endured and cast it away, but I know that I can't. I just want to let you know that not all people feel this way. Stay strong and be blessed.

    "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi -9.38/-6.26

    by LynneK on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:06:06 PM PDT

  •  You are a beautiful courageous warm wonderful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, CDH in Brooklyn

    human being, and thank you, for sharing your journey with us!

    ~we study the old to understand the new~from one thing know ten thousand~to see things truly one must see what is in the light and what lies hidden in shadow~

    by ArthurPoet on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:11:32 PM PDT

  •  Vote Yes on Prop 8 phone call (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    clarion, ibonewits

    I just got off the phone with a woman who was calling to ask that I vote yes on Prop 8.  I asked her why.  She gave me some reasons which basically boil down to one thing:  homosexuality is immoral.  Anything goes? she kept saying when I told her that our traditional concept of marriage is based on a protestant value system, that there are others in this country who believe, for example, that we're reincarnated beings who may have been of different genders in our previous lives, and that we can look at it ultimately as religious freedom.  I also mentioned your story that I'd read earlier this morning, and that the real job of parents is to teach the kids to put themselves in another's shoes, that everything has to come from a place of compassion rather than judgment.  

    She stayed on with me for about ten minutes without changing her mind, but I hope we gave her something to think about.  

    "Fear is a useless emotion." Michelle Obama

    by WaitingForGodot on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:12:27 PM PDT

  •  ‘I’m a Muslim but, hey, I’m OK (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    From an article about the birth of a porgressive muslim movement!

    Some excerpts on the topic:
    Along with the Meetup, groups such as the Progressive Muslim Union (PMU) and Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) are trying to organize and create such forums for progressive Muslims. "Mosques have become more conservative in the past 20 years. There was no space for progressive Muslims. No place for people to say, ‘I’m a Muslim but, hey, I’m OK with gays’" said Pamela Taylor, who broke with the PMU to co-found MPV.

    Along with her work with MPV, the religiously engaged Taylor frequently leads prayer at her Ohio mosque.  In an attempt to reach a broader Muslim audience, she regularly publishes in national newspapers and Internet media outlets. Recently, the 200 member MPV organized a conference at Sarah Lawrence College entitled "Finding our Voice," and is currently planning a Youth Camp. In response to the proliferation of either boring or angry ‘fire and brimstone’ Friday sermons, the group has also offered a $1000 dollar "Malcolm X prize" to the individual who can write the most engaging sermon.  Since Taylor founded MPV, many individuals who renounce traditional Islam but have kept their own sense of faith have emerged from their silence.  For example, a transsexual woman told Taylor at the conference that she felt comforted by the acceptance at the conference that she couldn’t find at a traditional mosque.

    "A hundred people in New York made the Muslim world shit in its pants,"

    Taylor frequently uses Qu’ranic quotes to make her points that Islam is a foundation for an egalitarian society based on social justice and human rights.   "My hope is that we can move the far right mosque community a bit to the left and provide alternatives," she said.

    Eltahawy, who is a board member of the PMU, believes that progressives should focus on providing support, comfort, and a voice to others who are dissatisfied with traditional and conservative Islam. Rather than attempting to win over conservatives, Eltahawy uses her opinion pieces in the Arab and American media designed to increase the visibility and political sway of liberal Muslims in the US.  "We don’t try to change their mind.  We don’t try to quote one verse or another, we’ll always lose that game," she said.

    Eltahawy, whose column was blacklisted from prestigious Egyptian newspaper Asharq Alawsat, sees the media as an effective way to broaden the movement both in the United States and abroad.  While the Egyptian government can ban Eltahawy from publishing her column, they cannot ban media coverage of her participating in a mixed prayer in New York.

  •  You were born whole and beautiful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, CDH in Brooklyn

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I wish you lived in my city so I could take you a mug of coffee and could sit and listen to you.  I wish you nothing but a wonderful and bright future. They took so much of your youth from you and I hope that you find the strength and support you need some day to venture out and grasp life by it's tail and that the real anxiety you feel can be shed as a snake sheds it's skin. I believe this for you. I can already picture you flying high above the fray, accepting yourself exactly as the only god I want to believe in made you. And feeling the deep love of the partner you let choose you...someday.  

  •  Thanks for sharing your story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...and Happy National Coming Out Day. (Approximately 5 years 11 months out of the closet for me.)

  •  Thank you for telling your story. (4+ / 0-)

    Telling it, gets it out.  When it gets out, the tension and anxiety is relieved.  

    You learn, bit by bit, that it's really ok.

    (and it is!)

    I think it's hell to have to live a lie.  It's the absolute worst.

    Now you don't have to, and you are no longer in hell.

    Good on you, for that!  You help somebody else, while helping yourself.

    You have friends here.  I am now one of them.

    My own childhood was pretty ugly too.  For me, it's not believing in God.  Never have been all that religious.  As a kid, I was forced through that crap, over and over.  Interventions, camps, you name it, they did it.

    Took me most of my 20's to sort it all out.  Took most of my 30's to be ok with it and then grow like I should.

    I'm 41 today.  Still have some basic problems admitting that I simply don't believe.  Most of those are all about other peoples expectations and that sucks because I am ok with that, so why can't they be?

    Maybe that's a little tiny bit of what you are feeling and what you have been through.

    Maybe it's not.

    More on topic, I've got a story for you.  My wife has some lesbian friends.  They are great people and we enjoy their company.  They have a son, who I have spent a lot of time with, so he can do boy things.  Having two moms, even if one of them is pretty damn butch, just doesn't work for everything.

    So, I'm there and we all get it done.

    The sexual conversations are difficult for me to relate to at times.

    One day, we were watching a movie.  The leading lady was beautiful.  Her necklines were perfect, curves, just that shape you know you would do in a moment.

    Looked over next to me and her friend was thinking the same thing.  I could just see it!

    So, I said something about it, and of course, she said "YES!" and we talked for about half an hour after that.  (people pissed too, we had to whisper)

    Suddenly, I got it.  We were looking for and were driven by the same things and the gender, body expectation set I grew up with, fell away and for the first time I saw her as a person and could relate!

    All of that tension just fell away at that moment.  We were then just a few people watching a movie.

    Funny how the smallest of things can make such a big impact.

    With her, she sometimes wishes she were a guy, so she could play that role and feel those things that drive her in the way I do.  With me, sometimes I wish I could just believe and be done with it, so I wouldn't have to always have that small guard up around the wrong people.  Life sucks sometimes.

    Anyway, just thought I would add to the support today.  I think everybody has a story.  The difference lies in how they feel about themselves and that depends on the expectations set for them.

    Go outside and enjoy it somehow, someway, with somebody.  You know this, but I'm gonna say it anyway.

    Those expectations can be changed.  They are changed one person at a time and progress is made.

    I knew Droogie, I liked Droogie, I won't forget what the AP did to Droogie.

    by potatohead on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:21:17 PM PDT

  •  Powerful stuff, brother. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for sharing.

  •  Thank your very much for telling us your story. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, gizmo59

    I am sorry you have experienced so much pain and self-doubt. As a mother myself, it breaks my heart. I hope things will continue to get better for you.  

    I am not religious but I do believe that if God exists, s/he does love you, and with absolutely no reservations. One suggestion for a church to go to is the United Church of Christ. In my typical New England town, the United Church of Christ (or Congregational Church) is the "first church" of the town; it sits perched on a hill looking out over the town green. They had a huge sign on their lawn for many months around 2004 election that said "Everyone is welcome here." (Everyone might remember that the networks refused to air the UCC's lovely, inclusive ads because they thought they were "too controversial." Of course, the were happy to air the swiftboating, gay-baiting, and anti-immigrant ads.)

    The UCC seems to be starting the campaign again--I saw a very nice ad on TV the other day. I really applaud them for that. This is exactly what Christianity is supposed to be like, in my view. (I was brought up in a mainstream Protestant church.)

    John McCain doesn't care about female people.

    by lecsmith on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:30:21 PM PDT

  •  You should look in the mirror and tell yourself (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    that you love you.  You are a child of a benevolent God who loves all.  But, you have to love yourself as well.  Remember that those who criticize are only human and humans make mistakes. Leave them to their misconceptions as you cannot change them. Love and take care of yourself. All will be well.

  •  Thank you, Vacantlook, for taking this risk . . . (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you, Vacantlook, for sharing your "coming out" story.  To be able to do that, openly, in a forum such as this takes guts, courage, and a huge risk of exposing one’s core vulnerabilities.

    Granted, the majority of participants in this forum are at the "right" end of the continuum of recognition-tolerance-acceptance-affirmation of GLBTQ issues, it is still a scary thing to do in exposing one’s self in this way.

    I came out just about now, in 2004.  I was 58 years old at that time.

    There are so many aspects of your story that I too relate to, especially the repressive religious culture.  In my case, it was the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  The official policy is one of "no accommodation" to GLBTQ persons.  You can sit in the pew, throw money in their collection plate . . . but expect no comfort or solace from them.  The disingenuous "love the sinner – hate the sin" rationalization that simply translates into "obey my rules or be damned."

    But there is another aspect to your story that I sensed.  You are a writer and you write from your heart.

    As you contemplate furthering your formal education, consider your skill at writing.  Even if it doesn’t evolve into a profession, writing has a way of healing.  And your writing, your sharing today, is hopefully having a comforting effect on you.  And also on some of those lurkers who read your story (and the resulting comments) with a fevered interest, but who do not have the courage to either "come out," or much less, tell their story.  In a surrogate way, you spoke for them also.

    Perhaps you have your own blog, a place where you can write and share your perceptions – of things gay – of things of the heart – of things of life.

    If you go to my profile page here on DKos, you can find there the URL to my blog, and it will give you a way to establish your own blog on that site as well.  It is free.

    Remember, being gay is a gift that God has entrusted to only a few people.



    Life is a series of trade-offs . . .

    by steamkettle on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 12:34:07 PM PDT

  •  My heart goes out to you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, OldLady in BC

    My advice?  Move to a blue state.  Possibly one with a medical marijuana law on the books.

    Stay strong, brother.

  •  Homosexuality is not a human invention. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, OldLady in BC

    It is actually widespread in the animal kingdom. A heartwarming story about a male flamingo couple sucessfully raising kids is in this link:gay flamingos as foster fathers

    If you think about it biologically, the attraction to the other sex (the normal, heterosexual case) is obviously hard-wired, it does not have to be learned.
    Since biological processes never work 100% accurate there should be other outcomes, i.e. hard-wired same sex attraction. It is nothing to get worked up about.

    And with respect to human culture: Your diary got me completely mad at your church - so careless in damaging human lives! I wish you good luck in your journey towards mental health and stability!

  •  My gay best friend is my ex-boyfriend (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, gizmo59

    He came out to me while we were dating in college. As you said, the relationship didn't end, it just changed. He is lucky never to have suffered as much as you though. His mom took some time to get used to it, but now supports him. His father just said that he loves him no matter what.

    Even better, my conservative Christian mother (who used to say AIDS was a plague sent from God to destroy the gays) does not hate him. She already liked him too much by the time I told her. Knowing someone can really make all the difference.

    Good luck and continued courage to you.

  •  "For God so loved the world... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, gizmo59, Marja E

    ..."For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him may have everlasting life". Does it say, "everyone that believes in Him will have everlasting life--all except gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals"? No. The term "whole world" then, means exactly what it says. God loves this whole world equally without respect to persons, unconditionally, and without exceptions. I'm staking my whole future on that faith, that Jesus Christ is the true living Son of God, that he loves, that he forgives, and that he saves all who come to him with child-like faith.

    Don't let anyone in this old world get you down! God doesn't make junk!

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 01:14:37 PM PDT

  •  As long as we give the (0+ / 0-)

    superstitious power we will never achieve civilization.

  •  You missed our WGLB issue yesterday celebrating (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, gizmo59, lamzdotes

    National Coming Out Day. we're a weekly diary series here. Hope you will check us out.

    Support democracy at home and abroad, join the ACLU & Amnesty International and Your voice is needed!

    by tnichlsn on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 01:24:04 PM PDT

  •  Good on you, vacantlook. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    Thanks very much for this wonderfully written and courageous diary, so full of heart and emotional intimacy and honesty.

    See the Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen live October 11 in the Amsterdam ArenA!

    by lotlizard on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 01:34:38 PM PDT

  •  spritual violence is what I like to call it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, fhcec

    It is so wrong the hate that these churches preach.  It's the same ones who preached that slavery, segregation, and women's rights are God's command.  They will come around eventually.

  •  :) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Keep on keepin on.

  •  ::hugs:: (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for sharing your story.  I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that-- I've heard tales from my college friends (we're all from Kansas) about what it was like to come out to their families, so I have a major amount of respect for your bravery.  

    There's a lot of work that's been done on delving into Jesus and the early Christians' attitude toward homosexuals: off the top of my Delicious tag I've got this thesis on "eunuchs since birth" being gay men, the great siteWould Jesus Discriminate? and A Letter to Louise, written by a pastor in his 80s who did a complete 180 on homosexuality once he actually dug in and studied it.  As someone says on the Would Jesus Discriminate? site, in the 1850s it was common enough for people to think that the Bible supported slavery for Mark Twain to have his character Huck Finn convinced he would go to hell for freeing Jim-- and yet nobody today thinks that way.  It's my opinion that whenever the Bible is being used to support fear and discrimination, we're probably reading things into it the way that people see the Apocalypse around every corner (and every time incorrectly) based on Revelations.  So you're in good company.

    I also suffer from anxiety, and medication, while doing a lot to get me out of depression, didn't do a lot for my anxiety.  You might look into mindfulness meditation-- it's not a religious thing or a hippie thing, it's mostly a way of practicing relaxation regularly so that when you need it, you have a way of calming yourself.  Check Amazon for Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    Love and hugs in your direction.  You've been through so much!

    "The Crunch? How dare you speak to me of the Crunch! You know nothing of the Crunch! You've never even been to the Crunch!" -Saboo on The Mighty Boosh

    by PomperaFirpa on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 02:05:10 PM PDT

  •  And don't forget, if you live in California (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, clarion, Ebby

    please, please, please help in the campaign against Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative.

  •  I'm sure you've gathered by now (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, gizmo59

    that your diary wasn't too long or anything :-)

    Made me cry. When I see someone having the guts to write about some of the horrible things homosexuals have to deal with in our society, I feel so proud of him (or her). As I do you. I've seen you comment here and there, I don't really know you of course - but now I do a little better.

    Good, good diary. Good job. Happy birthday and many, many more.


    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato

    by mieprowan on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 02:21:37 PM PDT

  •  one time at bandcamp... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    ...just had to. Congrats! Glad you are who you are and aren't afraid to yell it from the blogtops.

    Cut loose from the noose...

    by backinblack on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 02:52:28 PM PDT

    •  Thankfully, I do not play the flute. (0+ / 0-)

      I've made that initiation of the joke myself more than once.  Just in case anyone is curious, I played the trumpet.  I also played french horn in the symphonic band during spring concert season (with trumpet being for Wind Ensemble, aka the better of the two bands), but I totally was not good at french horn at all.

  •  More power to you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    You're still my brother. :))

    We need money to win. Please Donate to Obama/Biden 08.

    by jbjowe on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 02:57:25 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, dabug

    Kossacks and screw the pedantic nit-pickers and their personal issues don't belong on a political blog bs. Life is political. Coming out is as much a personal journey as it is a political statement--that you won't allow others to define your reality through their narrow minded world view. It's a difficult process to write such a personal story and I applaud you for honoring us with it. And the only cliches are the people talking about cliches; really do you folks realize that what might be personal and pointless to you can very well be political to another person and who are you define what is political and what is not? Especially when these types of diaries are fairly rare and that they were specifically requested. People do not get beat up, fired, or killed just because they are heterosexual but it does happen to us homosexuals far more than it should. Every time somebody tells their personal story, even in an uber-liberal environment like Kos, it helps to reshape the political process and people's ideas about what is right. And even in a liberal place like Kos there are still people in the closet who cannot or wlll not admit to themselves who they are and if they are expending energy to hide who they are that is energy they cannot spend elsewhere such as helping the political process. If they are closeted how can they raise money to fight Prop 8 in California? If they are in the closet how can they help other confused or desperate gay people? I expect better of our community here, I expect acceptance and understanding and I hope people will treat one another like they wish to be treated--how would you complainers feel if you poured your heart out only to be met with derision, complaints about protocol, or accusations of cliches?

    Congratulations on your bravery vacantlook and if you ever need a supportive, understanding ear to listen to you feel free to drop me a line as I have plenty of free time and I am a great listener. Good luck with your life and may you find the happiness you deserve.

    President Stephen Colbert 2016

    by Carl Brutanananadilewski on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 03:22:52 PM PDT

  •  Vacantlook... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    You poor child. Forgive the Mom-sound, but I AM a Mom and old enough to be yours.

    You need to try and get yourself out of that house. If you can get some money to go back to school, that could be the best thing for you. Out of your state would be even better. Get away from all that shit that reminds you and move ahead.

    Sending you all of my best wishes and strength to move up and away from the ties that continue to bind you.

    Bring it on, Old Man - and your Little Maverick Dog, too.

    by Prosediva on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 03:37:41 PM PDT

    •  I don't want to leave though. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My mom, whom I love more than life itself, doesn't have much of a support structure -- less than I do even.  And my dad is so difficult to deal with, I don't want to leave her all alone, which she would be, at the very least emotionally, if I left.  My compassion won't let me abandon someone in need, and she's definitely in need.  I might not be much good at helping her with a lot of things, but I know that I give her both courage and stability in dealing with my dad that no one else, not even my siblings, give her.  Even if it means I have to sacrifice some part of myself, I'm more than willing to do so.  She's helped me in so many, many ways; if I can help her, then I want to.

      •  then the two of you should move together... (0+ / 0-)

        why live the victims of a vindictive man for the rest of your lives.

        There are alternatives out there... none more scary and dangerous than the tyranny in which you both live.

  •  Very powerful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    We all fight for what we believe in, but sometimes we need a reminder of who we fight for. We are here with you, and will not stop until you are not only legally on par with everyone, but viewed the same as anyone else by others.

    As a Christian, I have to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry God was once again used as a weapon. It's not fair, and not how the Love of God works, and I promise to keep fighting this crap in the church until it is gone.

  •  You are deserving of love and finding someone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, gizmo59

    who loves you for yourself.

    If you can get yourself to move  a more hospitable state and city, I would do it.

    You need to feel safe.  

  •  I have 5 uncles who are/were gay (6+ / 0-)

    My father who is almost 80 is the oldest of 12. There were 8 sons.  One died when he was 9 but out of the other seven 5 were/are gay.  Two of the five have passed away.  One committed suicide several years ago.  The other passed away last year due to complications from AIDS.  Now the fact that he had AIDS is top secret in my father's side of the family.  In fact, my father thinks that my uncle died of some kind of bacterial infection.  One of my cousins told me and said my uncle in his last lucid moments made those who were there with him swear they would never tell the others in the family who could not accept he was gay that he was HIV positive.  After she told me, she made me swear more than once I would never tell my father.  It is a tragedy that my uncles are not accepted by the family for who they are?  Yet my uncle was valiant enough on his death bed to want to protect the feelings of his siblings?    There is much more to the story, but this could easily turn into a diary entry.  I'm sure my father will never see this; otherwise I would not share this story.

  •  {{{{{vacantlook}}}}} (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    Next step: Follow your dreams.

    Peace and love,

    Against silence, which is slavery. -- Czeslaw Milosz

    by Caneel on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 04:07:42 PM PDT

    •  As J. Michael Straczynski... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caneel, julifolo, fhcec

      ...the creator, executive producer, and primary writer of my favorite tv show of all time Babylon 5 has said in his selling a multi volume book series of all the B5 scripts through Cafe Press:

      "Never surrender dreams."

      Many people in the "biz" and scifi fandom repetitiously said that the production of B5 could never actually happen, and yet, it did.  Every season they said it couldn't happen, but every season it did.  Never surrender dreams!

  •  Wow... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, julifolo

    I think it took more courage than I ever have had to muster up for you to share your story with us.

    I believe that ultimately, if you really set your mind to it and get some good professional help to guide you through, that someday you can and WILL lead a normal, happy, healthy life.

    Hang in there and thank you so much for being willing to share your story with us.  Gay or straight, I don't care- I think you're awesome.

  •  Can I recommend (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook, julifolo

    The writings of Byron Katie called the Work. She cuts to the heart of the matter like no other. You can find quite a few of her videos on youtube and on her website

    I wish you peace. Your suffering is not invain. You have given us great insight. For this we are eternally grateful.

    All the best to you.

  •  Thank You (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, vacantlook

    Thank you and bless you for sharing your story.  

  •  I am so, so sorry for your experiences (5+ / 0-)

    and please know that you have an entire community's worth of people who have your back. At least, we do on the 'net. :)

    You have major courage for sharing this. Take care, dude. You'll be in my thoughts.

  •  Gay? Sarah Palin can Fix You (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Or so her church claims.  Have a good life.

    If that is so, then we must tend our own gardens then.

    by Otherday on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:09:18 PM PDT

  •  Thank you... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, OldLady in BC

    ...for writing this and sharing it.  (((hugs)))

    We only have a few more weeks to work for Obama to win the election. Hop to it!

    by The Social Worker on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:29:21 PM PDT

  •  Belated Happy BIrthday! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, julifolo, OldLady in BC

    ...And may you have many more exciting, productive, and happy years ahead of you.  

    Remember - Always be true to yourself, and you will travel through life with more time to experience the best it has to offer, instead of allowing the negative distractions that can overshadow ourselves and distract from that wonder of that experience we call "a lifetime".



    "..The paper holds their folded faces to the floor, and every day the paper boy brings more...." - Pink Floyd

    by LamontCranston on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 05:30:18 PM PDT

  •  I came out in my early twenties... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, julifolo, fhcec, gizmo59

    and I'm 62 now.  And over my life, I've talked with many gay men.  When you say that your anxiety is so bad that you rarely leave your house, may I suggest that that's not a good thing.  Being afraid at all is not a good thing.  You're still hanging on to the non-acceptance you've experienced.  You need acceptance.  Total acceptance.  Without any judgement. Just for being you.

    You need to talk with a sane gay person.  I saw the suggestion about trying out a psychologist/psychotherapist... yeah...I get that.  But a calm, gay friend would do you more good.  Somebody who's total, who's not got an agenda.  

    Time for you to be whole.  Way past time.  This regligious baggage you're carrying is just so much bullshit.  Time to start liking and loving yourself for who and what you are.  You're never going to be whole if you don't.  You owe it to yourself to be everything you can be.  With religion or not, your choice, but you need to be just yourself.

    •  Vacantlook, if there is a God, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vacantlook, soithoni

      (s)he made you just right the first time!

      Your story demonstrates that you are strong, determined, persistent, and questioning. You have the gift of reflection and a willingness to suffer while searching for the truth. I am so sad to read about your personal suffering, though, and hope you will take soithoni's excellent advice.

      Time for you to be whole.  Way past time.  This regligious baggage you're carrying is just so much bullshit.  Time to start liking and loving yourself for who and what you are.  

      If you can't find a whole and happy life in the community where you were born, be like your forbearers and travel somewhere more promising. You are observant and write well - you can surely find a job and friends who accept you for who you are.

      I wish you hope and more of the courage that led you to post this heartfelt diary. Vacantlook, please continue your search for a whole and loving life. You deserve to be happy, too, and to find your raison d'etre.

  •  Dear Vacant Look: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, Joes Steven

    Inspiring story--you deserve a rich life. I came from a "difficult" background and it took me till I was in my 30s to let myself have therapy, but I finally did and my life completely changed. (It took years...) hospitals often have clinics with sliding scales--my first therapist was $1o a session and started me on the road to recovery.

    Only you can give yourself the gift of help. if you won't do it for yourself, do it for the man who's out there waiting for you. (I did it for my daughter at first...) I still suffer from occasional depression and mild anxiety, but I no longer spend whole months of my life picturing over and over what it would be like to kill myself in a variety of ways.

    Good luck, VL. And I send you a big hug, if it's not inappropriate from a stranger. And you owe yourself a trip to Greenwich Village, where straights have been known to feel slightly like second-class citizens...

    •  Greenwich Village (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I was actually in some part of Greenwich Village 11 years ago.  I was a member of the drama club at the behest of a couple of friends back in my senior year of high school.  They got me to join specifically so I could go with them on the drama club's annual Broadway trip.  One of the places our group visited during the day before going to see a show in the evening was the Village.  It was really really raining and cold though, and I ended up getting relatively sick from being out in the rain all afternoon.  But I did love the trip.  We got to see four Broadway shows.  Three were mandatory: Play On, Rent, and The King And I and the fourth was each person's choice among three options -- I picked A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum specifically because Whoopi Goldberg was staring in it at the time, and I love her.

  •  very touching (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was one of the only straight people that participated in SAGA'S(straight and gay alliance)day of silence at my high school in Spaulding. (Rochester, NH) Students at that school are very close minded. I always liked being the outcast though.

  •  Thank you so much for sharing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, OldLady in BC

    this is the first time ive ever heard someones coming out story. Really touching. Its a great one and really made me think a lot , and empathize more with the struggle millions of americans go through. i will be a better person for it.

    Obama/Biden 08' - Hope and Change" McCain/Palin 08' - "Fear and more of the same"

    by angelesmartian on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 06:20:19 PM PDT

  •  Welcome (0+ / 0-)

    Welcome to the Friends of Dorothy Gale club.

    John McCain to his second wife after she teased him about his hair loss: At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you c-nt!

    by Dotty Gale on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 06:34:05 PM PDT

  •  If there is a God ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BrooklynJohnny, vacantlook

    ... I'm sure he made you exactly the way he wanted you to be! ;-)

    Bush's Law: "There is no advantage that cannot be overcome by incompetence."

    by ProbStat on Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:39:48 PM PDT

  •  I don't know if this comment will get read... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BrooklynJohnny, vacantlook, julifolo

    But thank you for sharing your story.  I am so sorry about the anxiety you feel constantly.  I had a cousin who struggled with his sexuality, but he wasn't able to handle it.  He hung himself 12 years ago when he was 32 years old.  My brother came out to my mom when he was like 14 years old - I was born about a year later - and he was fine emotionally, I think.  I didn't discover it until I was 21 years old.  

    Your story is tragic, because you deserve to be genuinely loved.  You are a person of tremendous worth and value.  And yes, God does love you tremendously.  

    I'm not a psychologist, but it sounds like you need a good support system.  I pray that you are able to find one, one that is affirming and loving and honest.  I hope and pray that you seek one out.  There are people out there who can help you.  I can imagine that it is hard trusting people, though.

    Please take care of yourself.

  •  Courage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for writing this. Your words gave me the inspiration and the courage to put together my story. :)

  •  500+ comments down... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vacantlook, julifolo

    I don't know if this will be read either, but I voted yours as best diary of the day!  I skimmed thru some of the comments.  Yeah, they're right.  Go for the walks, do  the crunches, see someone too about the anxiety issues. Most important for me at least tho, keep on writing!  You have a great talent, and as much as I love D-Kos, your stories would be much better served in a book.  

    Please keep the words going, and don't think for a sec that it's rambling!  Down the road, you might even find a publishing companies which deal with gay related topics.  Step one tho, write!

    PS: Very happy belated birthday!  

    •  Thank you... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BrooklynJohnny, julifolo

      ...for both the comments and the birthday wishes.  There are a lot of comments in this diary, but I have tried to read all of them, though I imagine there's been a few I've missed.

      •  YW (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Think about it... If your words inspired 500 people to actually respond, imagine how many more are out there.  Those who aren't yet ready to throw their own personal stories/annecdotes online but were still moved by your words. Please keep it up!

        PS: Don't forget to tell your ex g/f about all the nice things we Kossacks said about her for remaining a true friend to you!  

  •  I grew up gay in a small village outside Nairobi, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BrooklynJohnny, vacantlook, julifolo

    in Kenya and I fled (with the excuse of college) oversees to England as soon as I finished high school cuz I thought I was the only gay guy in Kenya let alone in my tiny village. I have since found out that not only wasn't I the only one in Kenya, but indeed that so many boys in my tiny village were also. I have struggled with depression and did turn to alcohol for much of my adult life, despite having concluded the opposite of you, that my catholic upbringing and teaching must have been wrong. After praying to be straight to no avail, I concluded that the teachings of my church must have been wrong. That along with the deep seated belief that the catholic church had to be wrong about all my ancestors having gone to hell for not having been Catholics and hence not having confessed and had holy communion! That said yours and other stories in here are sad reminders of the insanity of societal demands on sexuality. Mind you, growing up with an abusive alcoholic dad who didn't want you is enough to screw any boy or girl up, straight or gay, and I think you would be well served to seek more psychological help along with medical help. I'm now 35 and its taken me about 14 years of all manner of counseling and therapy to get to a point of comfort with who I am, and still got plenty more work to do. But I would recommend it highly, it takes time but in the end, it will help you greatly!  

    McCain't give a damn and won't even try!

    by karanja on Sun Oct 12, 2008 at 12:20:57 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for posting this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BrooklynJohnny, vacantlook

    I'm sorry I was out of town this weekend so I can't say "tipped & rec'd"

    I hope society can get to the point that you can find a place where things won't be anxious for you. Every time I read a story like yours I get more committed to fight for gay rights = civil rights.

    Best Wishes,


    If your local service workers don't get a living wage (including healthcare) then your local social contract is broken

    by julifolo on Sun Oct 12, 2008 at 05:55:47 PM PDT

  •  On writing . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hi Vacantlook

    I posted a comment yesterday about encouraging you to write.  Don’t know if you found it or not, or if it is something you would consider doing.

    I met a young man (29 just like you) on a forum not unlike this one about 3 years ago.  He lives in Belgrade, Serbia.  We have struck up an awesome pen-pal relationship.  He does have a partner, but Serbia is a very homophobic country and they both live deeply in their respective closets.  In some ways, I have sort of become a surrogate Dad for him.

    We both are very progressive in our political ways, and he is very pro-American.  In fact he was the one who introduced me to Henry David Thoreau.

    I have read most of your comments embedded in this post, and it strikes me that you are a pretty articulate person.

    If you need somebody’s ear to bend, to vent to, to share ideas, to sound out opinions, I do enjoy the pen-pal kinds of relationships, and I am a good listener.

    With my friend in Belgrade, it started out as a sharing of our similar, yet quite different spiritual journeys.  Both of us having come from strong fundamental backgrounds, both of us seekers of progressive things.

    Again, if you so choose, you can find my public e-mail and my blog listed on the profile page for my DKos account.  There are a number of little stories on that blog over the past several years that have gay connections to them.  Maybe those stories will scare you off!! LOL

    In any event, I am so glad that you were brave enough to post your story yesterday.  Yes, there were a couple of nitwits who have no understanding or empathy, but I trust that you did find that you have a supportive "family" here on DKos, and that you found some solace and comfort for your heart.



    Life is a series of trade-offs . . .

    by steamkettle on Sun Oct 12, 2008 at 07:12:00 PM PDT

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