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The Newest Question For Imagine Magazine...

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Let me just say that I've really enjoyed the answers you guys have offered up lately. So much of what you guys have said about your own experiences has brought me right back to being in that same position growing up. Which makes it more honest than anything folks are liable to read online. So, thank you! I appreciate the contributions!

Now, I'm trying to get at least six of these questions together so we'll have six months worth of articles to pot as a part of bringing Imagine Magazine back to life! But I'm going to personally push for TWELVE if possible! That would mean a whole year's worth of Shacker personal stories, ready to go. That would be awesome! We already have two ("Way Too Familiar" and "Did You Fight It?"), and I'll come back later on to repost the "What's My Line?" question to maybe give folks some idea on how to talk to that cute guy you've been staring at all day! Hehehe!


There's three, and this is the fourth! We're 1/3rd of the way there! I'd LOVE to hear more! So here we go...


"Push N' Pull"


As many of us know, coming to terms with the idea that you might be 'different' from the world around you can be a challenge. And that's on a <em>personal</em> level. It takes time, patience, soul searching, and self awareness. However, there's another step after that.


Now you have to get the rest of the world involved. Friends, family, schoolmates, co-workers...coming out of the closet is a new challenge in itself. One that should be tackled whenever the person in question feels that they're ready for it.


The question is...have any of you ever felt PRESSURED when it came to your sexuality? Both ways. Some folks feel pressured to come out when they're not ready. Other folks feel pressured to stay <em>in</em> the closet when they <em>are</em> ready. What has been your experience with either side of the equation? (Or both, if it applies)

Pressured to come out? Maybe you've got gay friends or family members that want to almost 'force' you out of the closet for your own good. Maybe you've got a boyfriend now, and he doesn't want to keep your relationship a secret anymore. Or maybe you've been bullied into it, or the rumor mill has betrayed you.


Pressured to stay in? Maybe you've got homophobic parents or siblings that you don't think will accept you. Maybe you worry about your job, or your community, or your church. Perhaps the place where you live has made it 'unsafe' for you to come out as being gay, bi, or trans.


Then again...maybe you've never felt any pressure on you one way or the other. If you're lucky enough to have had that experience...tell us that too! That's AWESOME! Let us hear about it! Those stories are definitely needed too!

Of course, these answers are for public posting in a future issue of Imagine Magazine! (https://imagine-magazine.org/releases/) I believe the newest issues are down at the bottom of the screen and not the top. But go check out previous issues if you like! Anonymous replies are more than welcome! And if you don't want your answer posted, just let me know, and consider it done! K?


Can't wait to hear your answers! :)


I'll add my own answer this weekend!


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In the beginning...being gay was NOT an option for me! Like...at all. Not just 'coming out' as gay, but not even BEING gay! My father was extremely, physically, abusive. Already, he used to call me a 'sissy' and a 'pretty boy' etc. When I wanted to be an actor, and got my first agent (was a modeling agent), I got HELL from him! If he knew I was even thinking about boys, I thought he might murder me. Honestly.


I was an 80's kid. During that time, people would say things like 'fag' or 'faggot' or, hehehe, I remember 'gaylord' was a big insult back then. But it was confusing to me, because (especially when MTV came along) everybody was wearing make-up and long hair and tight leather pants...hehehe WTF? But I liked boys just fine until <I>other</I> people told me it was disgusting and wrong. So, even though I was lucky enough to have a few 'experiments' when I was young...and some sleepovers...and then there was the boy scouts...well, let's not get into all of that! LOL! Let's just say that I had my fair share of fun, even when I was pressured to never ever talk about it.


Jump forward to college, and maybe a year or two before starting the Shack Out Back! I finally started taking my life back and realizing that, hey...I want more out of my life! I got online for the first time with a WebTV device! Hehehe, that changed 'everything' for me. I was reborn at that moment. No more sneaking peeks in the showers, no more buying magazines or videos in the middle of the night, no more hiding it all. It was a huge revolution in me discovering who I was. And the Shack, talking to YOU guys in emails and on the board and writing my thoughts out in the stories? Yeah...that was the milestone that made me who I am today. I'm sure of it.


I met some really good friends in those first few years. In real life. And I had fun, but something had changed. I don't blame them at all for what I was feeling...but I did experience some pressure to come out of the closet at the time. Online and offline. I remember being terrified of the idea, but being urged on by others who didn't think it would be any big deal. To me...it was a big deal. A HUGE deal! But I was ashamed to admit that to the folks who, essentially, were just trying to help me.


I did manage to come out to my best friend at the time. Took a few tries and a LOT of tears on my end...but I did it. I don't regret it. But I did it under immense pressure. So I can't tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I forced myself into it, and I can't tell you whether I was ready for it or not. Live and learn, I suppose. (Don't worry! It went well, and he's still one of the best friends that I've ever had!)


Then...some years ago...I met 'the one'.


Hahaha! Awww, let me tell you guys something...nothing can break you down emotionally like meeting 'the one' can! It'll happen. Trust me. ::Blush:: Oh God...we were SO in love! We couldn't go 6 hours without smothering each other with love and giggles. Every day was a holiday. It was bigger and better than anything that I could ever write into a story. We were (and still are) a special kind of bonding that a lot of people will never experience and understand. I take pride in that. :)


But I do remember having minor panic attacks over it. Because I wasn't willing to ever let him go. And that meant coming out. That meant telling my friends, and my family, and the world. It meant getting an apartment together and going out to dinner and a movie. It meant holding hands in the park and kissing in the mall. He means the WORLD to me. And that meant that all of my tension and fear about coming out was going to have to disappear. I wanted HIM! Nothing less would do.


So, hehehe, I used to get short of breath at work and worry myself every night on how I was going to take my entire life and rebuild it to accept him as a part of it all. But that's what true love is all about, right?


Anyway...yeah, I've been pressured to stay IN the closet, and pressured to come OUT of the closet...but it happens. I'm sure we all have personal feelings about the issue. It's a natural part of growing up for me. I just hope that I made the right choices along the way.


Hey, I'm smiling right now. So I must have done something right. Hehehe!

Edited by Comicality
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Nice story, Comsie! I've never felt pressured to come out or stay in the closet, at least as far as I'm aware. I have, however, experienced several incidents of heterosexism, where people have assumed that I'm straight, even though I never talked about girls in an erotic way. Once, at NMC, I went sailing on a small yacht with some other students. I struck up a conversation with a girl about The Lord of the Rings, which got pretty animated for a time. After we returned to port, most of the students left, but while I was waiting for my ride from the marina, the instructor started teasing me about how pretty she was. :rolleyes: After protesting that I couldn't see myself with her, he asked, "Why not?", to which I responded, "Because I don't swing that way." :gikkle:

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I was contained in a pocket of the earth with all of the titanic geological pressures of Family and Religion to crush me. I was buried under layers of fear, guilt, and denial for all of my young life. From Fifteen till Fourty I lived for school, work, and family. I didn't date. I didn't love. I didn't live, really. Finally, a priest broke the Catholic Church's spell it had on me by cruely saying that what I 'was' was sacrilegious - we all know what he meant by what I 'was'. After all my sacrificed youth, all my fighting, all my stressing, and all my worrying I came to realize that I was living for nothing. So I broke with the Church shortly after 9/11/2001. This was the first tectonic fissure to finally open the volcanic vent to release me. 


The eruption occured when my mother finally passed away, God rest her soul. My duty to her was discharged but I was damaged by her slow eroding psychological abuse that I'd simmered in for years. I had to get therapy and my therapist finally dug me the rest of the way out of my hole. I was near to suicide when I went for help. So, after fourty-some years, I was finally able to break free.


My struggles for freedom are not yet over, however. I have new pressures now. I want to find the one who's waiting who means everthing to me, but this may not happen. I am trying to face something now that new friends are trying to help me with. I fear that I may have come Out too late. I should know this can't be true, but I do live in a part of the world where the Culture of Prized Youth is strong. The pressures of my own aging body now work against me, but I have hope now where I didn't before.


I will find you, my Everything! If not in this life . . . then again when my Snowflake reforms and falls again to the earth seeking your sweet hand to catch me.

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I've always intrinsically known that I have to protect myself to survive, I think that is a basic human instinct. How far and what measures you have to take in order to do this depends very much on circumstances. School was a jungle and I had to avoid getting eaten alive, beat up or psychologically damaged. Luckily my home life was more relaxed. I was never going to tell my parents, or grandparents – we all lived in the same house – that I was gay. Why? Because I knew they had a negative attitude towards that. My grandfather once told me that as a young man he would never leave the house without a hat, only men who weren't men would allow themselves to be seen in public without a hat!


It isn't difficult to know your parents point of view about things, so at home I was in the closet, and everywhere else too. I had however discovered at the age of thirteen that I was not the only gay boy in the world. Yes I know, you may find that hard to believe these days, but I honestly did think that at age eleven or twelve. 


What I needed was a plan, a way to move forward, and a way to meet other guys like me. I decided it all had to be on hold until I reached eighteen, when I would leave school and leave home. I had to have financial independence. Whilst incidents happened before I reached eighteen, I was so fucking scared I always pressed the panic button and ran.


Once I had left school and moved out I was halfway there, but that was the moment I had to come out. It was not easy. Was I pressurised into it? Yes, but by myself, not by anyone else, nobody knew. Perhaps the pressure you can put on yourself is just as great, if not greater than being pushed by others. I don't know, but I thought I was going to implode! I kept trying to work out how to do it, when to do it, who to tell, who to tell first, and did I have to tell everybody or just my parents and close friends?


The first close friend I told I just blurted it out by saying, “look I've got something I just have to tell you.” What you should know is I was sharing an apartment with two or three other guy’s, of whom he was one. I don't know how the hell I got the words out, it was like one of the biggest moments of my life, but I said it, “I'm gay!” He had no reaction, I couldn't believe after beating myself up over this for days, trying to imagine all the possible scenarios – nothing. I had to come up with something quick, so I added, “You okay with that?” What do you think he replied? He said, “Yeah, but I'm not gay.”


I just left it. Was that good, bad, indifferent? Did he think I might want to jump him? I was lost. Huge build up to a big non-event. And it didn't make it easier to tell other people, over time I sort of got used to it, right up until one day when I said to myself, why the fuck do I have to keep telling people? So I stopped, I just decided to be myself, if they asked I'd say, straight people don't go around announcing their sexuality to the world, why should I?


I have to tell you I chickened out with my parents and wrote my mum a letter, that was short and sweet, and basically told her and my dad that, well you know that friend of mine, X, well we are actually more than just friends. I saw them soon after, I wasn't just going to leave it like that. Funny thing was, my dad had no problem with it, my mum got into blaming herself, and that took some time for her to get over. I don't think she was ever totally comfortable with it. 


I will just add that whilst adopting my attitude of telling if asked, I didn't hide or make a big deal out of things. Like at work when you are talking about what you did over the weekend for example. I remember very well telling a guy I worked with I’d been to Heaven (a big London gay disco) Saturday night with friends. He said to me, “but that's a gay club.” To which I replied, “Yes I know, I am gay!” He simply didn't believe me, telling me, no you aren't, you're not gay. I mean that really takes the biscuit doesn't it? When you have to come out and then convince someone that you really are gay!

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Unfortunately, I perceived a real pressure to stay in or risk losing the friends I had. It was funny because my introduction to sex was by two older boys when I was really young so, when they decided it was time for it to end, I was both hurt and confused. So it seems that somehow what we were doing was wrong? I already knew that our fathers would hurt us if he found out we were swiping their dirty magazines but, when we stopped because one boy simply stated “I have a girlfriend now...” that suddenly it just wasn’t right, and something that had to stop. I clearly got the message that it was okay in secret if friends who both want to look at the adult stuff together do it with each other. It’s even okay if they help each other out if they are close enough. As long as it didn’t get “too gay”. You also had to walk into that knowing at some point that it was going to end and if you wanted to keep that friend, it had to be no big deal when it did.


I would mess around with a few friends, develop a secret crush on each one and because they were open to it, mess around with them sexually and pretend it was mutual. But the second a girl came into the mix, it was all over. By my late teens, I simply gave up on anyone accepting me as a gay male and being interested in a loving relationship that would last. It was only with other teens too. There was one adult when I was still preteen but that got violent and hurt me so I never felt that way toward an older male again. It was miserable and lonely but, I had friends and most of my family was there for me so, I felt I had a lot to lose if I came out. So I just didn’t. 


It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I finally told my family and close friends. It took a while for my family to get used to the idea but, I was still just “me” to them. In some areas I began to make sense to them now. Some of my friends didn’t take the news well, even started bashing me behind my back (so they thought) so, I did lose some friends along the way. That was what I expected though so, it sucked to not be proven wrong.


Today, I’m careful but I don’t hide it from anyone. Granted, I don’t give any real reason to be questioned either. I recently had a coworker tell me a gay joke and laughing he said “I hope you’re not gay.” and I laughed back I replied “I am but that was funny.” Then continued the conversation. It’s not the 80’s anymore and I believe most of the people around us know that anyone could be gay so they aren’t as shocked when they learn that you are. Sure, good old fashioned homophobic people are still out there but, I don’t care what they think of me anymore. Not like when I was a kid...



Edited by JeffsFort
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