|This is Smallville|
I came out a long time ago, in California, and it wasn't really that difficult. Most of my friends knew, though family was a little different. As I've said before, I had no "funny uncles" or aunts to lead me out of the closet and into the gayborhood.
But I did it, and I never looked back. Or so I thought.
When I moved to Miami, it was the same thing. I'd meet people who'd ask if I was married, and I'd say, "No, it's illegal." That always prompted a look, and an explanation because a lot of people back then--and we're only talking the last decade or so--didn't know gay people are prohibited from getting married.
But I was out, and all was good.
When we moved to South Carolina, someone suggested that, because of the religious and political climate here--it's not the heat, it's the stupidity--that perhaps I shouldn't talk about being a big flaming queen. And, you know, stupid as it is, I took them up on that awful piece of advice; for a while.
We moved out of Miami and into Smallville to get away from hurricanes and traffic and congestion and, well, just a sense of negativity that seemed to exist there. Carlos looked online for a job and soon found one in a town just beside Smallville. There were emails and phone interviews, and then he was flown to South Carolina for a face-to-face; the job was his, and so we sold the Miami house and loaded up the furry kids and moved.
When we got here, I didn't work for a while. My mother had cancer and passed away a few months after our move. But, when I did get a job, I mistakenly remembered those words and didn't tell anyone I was gay. Oh, I'd told my boss in the interview, but as I met co-workers and clients I didn't say a word. When they asked why I left Miami for Smallville, I'd say, Have you ever been to Miami?"
Laughter. And no more questions.
But then I realized I had inadvertently stepped back into the closet by taking that awful advice, and so I soon changed my answers. I remember the first person who asked me, after I decided to come out again, why I'd moved to Smallville; I said, "We wanted to get out of the craziness of Miami and my partner took a job here." I froze, waiting for the fire and brimstone, the wrath of god, to come out of their mouths and, well, I got this, instead:
"What does he do?"
And I was out; again. And, so, I give Smallville credit because, in the last three-plus years of living here, I haven't met one person who looked at me differently, or treated me differently, or not at all, because i was a gay man.
I give props to Smallville; it's a small town, but not a town of Small minds.
And so, that's my long-winded way of saying that I was especially struck by the following quote from Andrew Sullivan. It speaks mostly to the military policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but also speaks to the much quieter, social policy of DADT; it isn't right to force people to deny who they are, but to also deny the existence of their family.
"Try never mentioning your spouse, your family, your home, your girlfriend or boyfriend to anyone you know or work with --just for one day. Take that photo off your desk at work, change the pronoun you use for your spouse to the opposite gender, guard everything you might say or do so that no one could know you're straight, shut the door in your office if you have a personal conversation if it might come up.Try it.Now imagine doing it for a lifetime.It's crippling; it warps your mind; it destroys your self-esteem."--Andrew Sullivan