Am I out or not? Only to certain people. So what does that mean? I’m out partially? What is that, is that like I have one foot out the closet door, the other inside, and I jump out and in like I’m playing peekaboo?
I’m out to a few friends, and to some members of my family. Well by now I’m sure the entire family network knows I’m gay. I’m already 37 and still single. Plus I live with another man. Plus he happens to be Caucasian. But there are family members I see more often than others, and therefore whose lives I’m more involved with, not just as me alone but as a couple with my partner.
I have never needed to utter the words ‘I AM GAY’ to any of them, but the ones I’m close to, they know. This silent acknowledgement comes from the fact that they have accepted my partner. When there are family gatherings, he is invited. No one has asked me to my face if I am gay. No one asked if we’re a couple. They just treat him like any other good friend of their own, and my best friend, even though there is an age difference of almost a quarter of a century between me and my partner. But they’re not wrong either; the man I love does happen to be my best friend too.
I’m not bothered there is no overt recognition he is my romantic partner. The first reason is because I don’t need the recognition, or acceptance, although I do appreciate the acceptance they have chosen to extend to me. It does not matter if their acceptance is borne from mere tolerance, or from sheer affection for me and my partner. What is important to me is that they are treating me kindly, as how I would like to be treated, as how I would treat another person. I deeply value and am deeply touched that my family members love me and are so kind to me, just as before they found out I was gay.
The second reason is that I am not into public displays of affection, so I don’t feel ‘suppressed’ or feel I can’t be myself. Actually, this is the same with my siblings. They do not kiss and cuddle with their spouses in front of other family members, but the love and affection is always evident. So me and my partner are not missing out on anything when we hang out with our families. Come to think of it, our gay friends are just like that too, not being inclined to being lovey-dovey in front of other people.
The third reason is that I’m not a feminine guy, so I never went through any torment of having to pretend to be ‘more manly’ to be accepted. I mean, put a young(er) girly Asian guy and an old(er) masculine Caucasian guy together, and of course people are going to think ‘ooh, gay couple’. (even though, both me and the partner are masculine regular Joes, and I’m sure some people still correctly guess we’re a couple) Having said that, my family would STILL accept me and love me if I’m feminine, so I could still be just me. I know this.
Example: Four of us (me, my partner, a brother, and his wife) went to a wedding supplies shop because they have a large variety of fabric flowers and my sister-in-law wanted some. If you buy a bunch and a vase, there’s a free flower arrangement thrown in. Well the guy who served us and did the arrangement, well he was nice guy who happened to be very effeminate. And my brother and sister-in-law keenly chatted with him. He wasn’t only friendly and chatty, but knowledgeable and full of anecdotes, merrily yakking out tales about working in that wedding supplies mart. And then guess what the guy did? He made a pass at me, asking me many questions about me and inviting me to come visit again. In front of my brother and sister in law. And my brother and sister-in-law just smiled sympathetically at me, stifling laughter, because they knew I was embarrassed. And then they went back to chatting with the guy like before.
Looking back, that was cute.
I love my family.