“Too Old to Be Gay”

My friend RJ called today. We’ve been playing phone tag for several months. Actually he plays calls me and I don’t call him back. I was actually told not to. Many years ago RJ and I had a very brief fling. It never went anywhere and he finally put an end to it. And why did it end. Because he was afraid his wife was going to find out. I’m still amazed sometimes at the stupid things I did in my youth. It also didn’t help that I knew his wife and he was one of my professors. Whoops the story thickens. I’ve talked to RJ many times and he even helped tremendously in getting me into grad school. I even went to visit he and his wife about 7 or 8 years ago with my friend Michelle.

Last summer I got a call from RJ and after about three seconds he told me that he’d finally come out to his wife. He sounded awful. He then went on to tell me how miserable he was and what it was doing to his family. More than anything I think I was the one gay person he knew well enough to talk to about this. It also helped that I already knew his secret and wasn’t going to be shocked. He and is wife have been married for 25 years, and I’ve known them for 25 years. So RJ and I had a long talk and I helped as much as I could and ended the call telling him to call me day or night if he needed to talk. We chatted a couple of times after that and then the last time I called he told me he would call me back. Instead I got an email telling me not to call anymore because it made him nervous when I called and his wife was around.

So I didn’t call again. He’s called me a couple of times in the past year. Always when I was busy so I missed the calls. I emailed him a week or so ago to say hello and see how he was doing and he called today. And we chatted for about 30 minutes. Mostly we talked about our professional lives. We didn’t discuss the elephant in the room. But that’s okay. He’s a great guy and I love talking to him. It actually pains me to see him struggling the way he is. In one of our early conversations he told me he felt like he’d wasted his gay life. He felt that he was too old to come out of the closet and be gay. I assured him that he was not the only one in the predicament and that he was not the first person his age to come out of the closet. I don’t think it helped.

So we chatted today. And discussed our lives. And ignored the elephant. And it was nice. I really wish I knew what to tell him. But I don’t. I don’t think anyone has the answer for him.

Where in the world is Maddog?

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7 thoughts on ““Too Old to Be Gay”

  1. Bill May 13, 2008 / 00:08

    It must get uncomfortable, sitting on a fence.
    Especially a picket fence.

  2. Rick May 13, 2008 / 04:52

    Good Lord…that’s terrible. I feel for people like that. I know it’s tough to get out of one’s comfort zone, whether it be a marriage or just some sort of rut. I hope the best for him. I’m glad to hear he has a friend like you to talk to.

  3. Lemuel May 13, 2008 / 05:15

    Your professor friend and I have much in common. I think I know exactly where he is, for there too am I. When you talk with him again, tell him he is not alone. There are more of us in that room, staring down but ignoring the elephant, and sucking up the pain.

  4. Sarah May 13, 2008 / 08:59

    Whenever I hear these stories (and there are lots of them), I get so mad. Mad at the man for marrying a woman when he knows that isn’t what he wants or who he is. Yet, it’s hard not to feel so sad for him. So the anger really is directed at society for being so dysfunctional that it needs to scapegoat and alienate groups of people. When we waste time freaking out over our differences we never get the chance to learn how much we have in common. Empathy creates healthy bonds. Fear, ridicule and ignorance cause all the pain.

  5. urspo May 13, 2008 / 22:46

    i had a patient who was dealing with his coming out process at 72 years old. We tried to emphasize the better late than never rather than the ‘wasted years’ approach.
    it is never too late to become your Self.

  6. Donnie May 15, 2008 / 11:03

    I hope your friend works through things with himself and who he really is. No matter how old, it’s better to be true to yourself (no matter how scary that sounds).

  7. Steve February 26, 2009 / 00:31

    Someone posted a reply to an old post of mine on egg lifters, and when I read their comment I saw that this was listed as a “possibly related post”, and now I’m wondering why.

    Am I too old to come out as an egg lifter?

    That is the question.

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