Thursday, February 22, 2007

Casual Authenticity

So I finally came out to my gym trainer tonight.

Yeah! Remember a couple weeks ago (two blog posts ago) when I said I almost told him that I'm gay? I had a training session with him tonight. The door for me to tell him opened up and I decided to walk through it.

I think he might have suspected. Over the past few weeks, I noticed that he seemed to be inquiring a little when ever I mentioned "a friend". I wouldn't normally think anything of his inquiries because it's typical for the two of us to talk during my session about what's going on in our lives. I'm sure that after two years of me never talking about girls or football whenever he did gave him some kind of clue. But in recent weeks, he seemed a little different when he asked. He didn't do it in an offensive kind of way at all. Rather, he was pretty casual about it, but there was a hint of hesitancy when he tried to get a little more context when I talked about "a friend" . . . .

In most circumstances, I really would be talking about "just a friend". But maybe recently he got the sense that maybe I wasn't just referring to "just a friend" and was actually talking about someone a bit more than that. Could he tell? Did it show on my face? Was I flush whenever I mentioned him? I was probably thinking it but maybe he picked up on the fact that this time I meant "special friend".

Normally, my paranoia would kick in because I'd try extra hard to look straight. I'd panic at the very idea that I might possibly look like I was gay. In recent months, however, that paranoia has diminished as I strive to be intentional about my authenticity.

So as we began my work out session, we started to talk about each other's weekends. He talked about the fireman's test that he took and about his fatigue from the 5 mile run that he did earlier today. I talked about my friend that was visiting from Virginia.

I had told him about this visit two weeks ago when he asked me if I had any plans for Valentine's Day weekend. I wanted to tell him then that this was a friend that I was kinda sorta dating. But how would I tell him? By the way, I'm gay. And my friend visiting - actually, it's a guy I met online and we've never met. But we're kinda dating. And, oh yeah, we met through a gay Christian Web site.

How would I bring up this sort of thing without defending myself by explaining all kinds of context? Gosh, given only the facts, he'd think I was some kind of weirdo who routinely went on blind dates with online people. That wasn't exactly the impression I wanted to give him of me, the gay community, the Christian community, or even the gay Christian community.

So anyway, I missed my opportunity two weeks ago and just gave him the impression that "a friend" was visiting and we were just going to hang out. Yeah, I chickened out. So at the time, he proceeded to tell me about his break up with his girlfriend and that he had nothing special planned (anymore).

Tonight, I told him that my weekend was full of spending time with "my friend" visiting from out of town. And that's when he began to inquire further. Not too much, just a single question looking for context.

"Soooo . . . . was this . . . . a good friend of yours . . . . visiting?" he asked hesitantly. I remember thinking that he had a weird look on his face. He wasn't looking me in the eye so it didn't seem like one of his typical casual questions just to have conversation. He was fishing for something - much like the sense that I had been getting the past few weeks.

Here it comes.

While doing the exercises he was instructing me to do, I told him, "Actually, we're kinda interested in each other." I panted between words trying to cover up my own hesitation in saying the words by trying to come across casual and out of breath. I said it matter-of-factly because I was hoping that his reaction would mirror my own casualness.

He responded in kind with the same sense of casualness. Interestingly, he reiterated the fact that he and his girlfriend are still officially broken up and that he is currently "done with girls" for now so that he can focus on other things. He actually said, "I'm so tired of the drama with them!" (No, i'm not reading too much into this! He said the exact same thing two weeks ago before knowing about me and when he first told me that he and his girlfriend broke up.) So no, i'm not hoping or thinking that he's gay or bi. He's still very much straight, I think.

I tried to observe to see if he felt awkward or uncomfortable. He couldn't exactly react with hositility towards one of his best clients! So he didn't make an issue out of it and we both carried on with the training session just like we always have in the past.

But I could tell he was thinking about it. Or at least, my own insecurities let me think that he was pondering me. I remember thinking, "oh my gosh! I just came out to him!", repeating in my head over and over.

Funny thing is that I tried to butch up my workout even more. I did every exercise he told me to do with 110% effort because I wanted him to see that this new information about me doesn't change the fact that I'm willing to train hard and that I'm no different from any of his other male clients.

So now that he knows that I'm interested in some guy, maybe he'll eventually feel comfortable asking about "it" more - "it" referring to either the gay thing or the long distance interest thing. This opens the door for me to be casually authentic now. Now i don't have to be silent when he's talking about his own romantic interests. It'll be interesting to see if this becomes something we don't talk about or if he begins to feel comfortable talking about these kinds of raw talks.

What can I say? He asked for it!


Anonymous said...

Eric, I really appreciate some of the stories you tell about your life. First of all your honesty, writing about incredibly awkward moments like this one. And also, it reminds me that each of us is unique. Our differences can be so deep yet at the same time we can relate to each other deeply.

It always amazes me how a 30-year-old man in Long Beach, of all places, could struggle so much with his orientation and being out to people and so on. That's not meant as a criticism at all. I feel a solidarity with you because there are also things missing in me that people might find hard to believe. You inspire me with your efforts to claim your wholeness.

Daddy Cool said...

I'm glad you're taking more and more steps. Each time you come out it gets easier and easier.

Anonymous said...

Eric....I loved this story. But I didn't read how you actually told him you were gay. All you said was, "yeah we're kind of interested in each other."

Maybe I'm so sick that I missed something, I don't know. Amyway, I love you and your rectangle guru as well.

Peace out homey...and a big hug

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric, I came across you're website, and, needless to say, you're not the only one going through this. My name's Junior, I'm 20 years old and I live in Lima, Peru, and I'm trying to leave homosexuality so that i can serve the One true God. I can totally relate to you and thousands of other guys that are in this very same situation. All I can say is that if we're gay and if we know God, then He'll give us the strength to make it through cuz He created us that way. Plus, you can't really serve two masters, I'm sure you know that.
Good luck in everything,

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can totally identify with this story! It's so nerve-wracking, even with close friends let alone strangers.

I'm out to most people I know, but it's still scary telling people. I guess it always will be, a little bit, but it's more like stage fright, you know? It's a fun type of fear ;)

That said, be careful who you tell, and how you tell them. I really don't mean to rain on anyone's parade, or add any fear, but don't get too carried away. You don't need to worry about it though, all that's needed is a little careful thought, and some good friends to talk to if they react badly.

And usually, if they do react badly, it might just be that they weren't expecting it. People are usually good about it after a little time, though.

One last thing: if you're anything like me, you might also find yourself a little disappointed when people say, "Oh I'd kinda guessed." Best not to worry too much about that, it's just kinda funny, really ;)

Anonymous said...

Eric, I'm not sure how I came to find your website, but my name is Scott and I'm a neighbor down in the OC. Your struggle (your journey) is one that most of have gone thru in our early years. For some, the journey has been a bumpy ride, for other a tumultuous one. I grew up in a household that was strictly Catholic with a bit of Seventh Day Adventist thrown in. I knew I was gay since I was in junior high. One of the biggest issues I had was reconciling my life with my faith. It was not an easy one for me.

To be honest with you, my disassociation from the church was not an easy decision, but it was a disassociation with the institution of the "church". My faith in God, remains intact and my beliefs have not changed. What did change was the physical attributes of being Catholic and all that came with the guilt that is instilled in us.

I admire what you are doing here. I have much more reading to do about who and what you are.

My relationship with God is a one-on-one relationship and with that in mind, I have kept Him in my life.

I look forward to reading more about you.

Anonymous said...

Does no one else see that this guy is coming on to Eric? He sounds like he is bicurious or at least very horny. An older been there gay man. Fred