Barry Church-Woods tackles his demons
Have you ever been ined?
In-ing is a strange phenomenon where people around you would prefer that you’re not a gay.
It comes in particularly useful to those who find homosexuality icky, though to be fair, it’s also a glottal stop for many who feel protective of the fledgling fabulettes in their lives.
There are numerous reasons why friends, family and colleagues might stop you coming out, and I’m sure for many it’s an act of love. Though for me, I never expected the last person to do it to me, to be the person who was also sharing my bed.
A few years back (let’s be honest… 18) during my transition from happy barman to gay barman I noticed the phenomenon for the first time.
Having spent many months trying to figure out how to broach the subject with the alcoholic mouth breathers of Fife as they propped up the bar I was fairly disappointed when my big reveal fell on deaf ears.
“Hey guess what? He’s not my brother. He’s my same sex, mutually dependent, disco dancing, fever freaking life partner!”
OK, there was that one guy that almost immediately followed me into the Royal Doulton adorned gents toilets and waved his winkie at me, but mainly, the reaction was somewhat muted and of denial.
Many there had assumed that I was in a relationship with the blonde girl with the perky boobs and though true at one point many years previously, she was in fact my rather trusted hag.
The open mouthed guppies however chose to completely ignore the fact that I’d mentioned I was more an Adam and Steve sort of guy and continued to refer to me as having a girlfriend.
Try as I might I just couldn’t come out.
Whenever they offered to buy me a drink, I chose a Remy Martin. Whenever they asked what I was doing at the weekend I said ‘Rodney’. Whenever they asked me to change the music, I chose Madonna, Ricky Martin or Tori Amos. (True, Tori is not really associated directly with gay-boy culture, but my interpretive dance to Caught a Light Sneeze was more flaming that Liberace french kissing a unicorn).
So in some ways, at that time, coming out to certain people was actually a bit of a struggle for me.
Which is why I still find it remarkable that I voluntarily went back in for someone that I thought was the love of my life.
I’m not naïve enough to assume that the issue of sexual identity can have a one size fits all solution. I certainly wouldn’t recommend putting yourself in danger if you live in communities where it’s obviously going to be a problem. But the fact of the matter is, as a young gay man living in a cosmopolitan western city, I’ve been able to walk down the street holding hands with whoever the hell I want since the mid 90’s, and be relatively safe.
Of course, there will always be idiots who respond negatively, but they’re more than likely joining numerous others partaking in the occasional social ‘isms’ due to their upbringing, religious doctrines or because they were dropped on the head in their mothers meth lab. But I digress, and it’s not really the point of this blog.
As Larry Kramer so eloquently states in Reports from the Holocaust, ‘Until we unite into a visible force that fights back, we’re doomed’. Dramatic I know. But it is also seeped in truth.
Visibility breeds acceptance.
Being seen to exist encourages pride in oneself.
Having societal role models makes it easier for people having a tough time.
I AGREE WITH THIS SENTIMENT WHOLEHEARTEDLY!
So how does an openly gay, relatively successful professional find himself crying in the basement spare room of his beach front home, as the love of his life laughs cordially with his family over high tea upstairs pretending he doesn’t exist?
I know that you can’t help who you fall in love with, and all too often for the burgeoning bummer, we fall quickly for others less comfortable in their own skin. But here’s the harsh reality for those of you currently in the predicament of trying to make a relationship work with someone in the closet.
Until they are fully out, you will NEVER be fully in.
Relationships come in a million different guises. The beauty of being one of the freaks, geeks or uniques is that you get to make the rules. There’s no real precedent for what the family unit looks like and we get to call the shots on who sits at the brunch table. Fundamentally though, we are all human, and most of us crave the mundane normality of human interaction and a feeling of belonging. And that comes from family.
There’s no better feeling than taking someone you love home to meet your parents. True, you’ll also be fully clenched because you want them to get along, but you also know that deep down, your family all want the best for you.
As the new partner, being accepted into a family unit through love is not only a privilege, but contributes so crucially towards the growth and strengthening of your bond. Do you really want to give that up? And what does it say about your beau that they don’t want to share that part of them-self with their clan?
Needless to say, after leaving the basement and watching the never-to-know in-laws drive into the horizon things never really recovered for that particular romantic dalliance. After months of watching him enjoy all the benefits of knowing my tribe and being loved by them I couldn’t help but feel resentful.
Why did he get to have all that and not me?
Ultimately, the answer was because he decided it would be that way. And once you realise the person that’s supposed to complete you is actually emotionally castrating you, then there’s no turning back.
Barry Church-Woods is a perfect homosexual living in Edinburgh, Scotland with his civil partner Josef. He works for the largest arts festival in the world and still finds time to swear and drink martinis. He dances like no-one’s watching but THEY ALWAYS ARE! Today he smells of Givenchy Gentleman because he is one. Sometimes. Follow him on Twitter.