What Lies Beneath
Apr 29, 2012
Michelle Pfeiffer: I think she’s starting to suspect something.
Harrison Ford: Who?
Michelle Pfeiffer: [scarily, sexily] YOUR WIFE.1
It’s tricky, having a secret identity. Not so tricky when you live alone: I imagine Superman enjoyed lounging around his apartment in cape and tights, blissful and carefree as long as he kept the curtains closed.2 And of course he had the Fortress of Solitude, so that was nice.
When I first started blogging as Steve Gershom — wow, over a year ago — I considered not telling my family about it at all. At that time, they didn’t know about my SSA, or most of them didn’t. My parents knew, from back when I was less computer-savvy,3 although it wasn’t really news to them — I mean, they were the ones who paid the shrink. My older brother knew, because I told him…meh, okay, he knew already too: I had confided in his then-fianceé some years back, and she turned out to have a sorta big mouth.4
But from everybody else, when I finally sent the big email, I got reactions ranging from:
- “Whaaaat? Really? You?” (in a nice way) to
- “Well, I did grow up with you.” (fair enough) to
- “So you’re into dudes, huh?” (my favorite)
The whole thing was extremely liberating, and afterwards my reasons for holding out seemed a little dopey. “Your little brother will be freaked out,” I told myself. (He wasn’t — see last quote, above.) “It would be selfish to burden them with this,” I pontificated. (SERIOUSLY? How ’bout the number they did on you?5) “There’s no point, and it won’t really help,” I predicted. (Yah, because sharing your burdens with the people who care about you never helped anyone, ever.)
Not only was it liberating, it was fruitful, too. When you come from as large a family as mine, the sheer age spread makes it hard to be as close to your siblings as you might like; and when you come from as wounded a family as mine, an awful lot can get buried.6 Once this came out, a few other things started to. Those ripples are still spreading.
Which is not to say that the decision was easy, or that I should have made it sooner, or even that everybody should do it. A lot of things had to happen before I was ready. And then, some ostensibly Christian parents really would disown a son for being into dudes, and some ostensibly Christian siblings really would be disgusted. Mine didn’t and weren’t, because if there’s one thing my family is good at, it’s tolerating idiosyncracy.7 Everyone should be so lucky, but not everyone is.
But everybody — Oh, everybody, and I know this is hard for so many of you, because it was for me — needs somebody to tell.
As for telling everybody, it’s mainly the prudence of Father T. that has kept me from it. It’s a complicated question, and the best I can do is try to follow the Spirit. It’s possible, of course, that the whole thing is moot, and that everyone is just silently going “Dude. We know. No big deal.” When I told my friend M., he acted properly surprised, but it turned out he had known for SEVEN YEARS — again, due to the big mouth of a dear friend’s brother. Pseudonym or no, I’m not exactly careful, and anyone who knows even my basic history could (and frequently does) piece it together pretty easily.
The question is a little more pressing in the case of my roommate. He knows I write, and will ask fairly often how it’s going, which makes me hem and haw like nobody’s business. (“I’m writing…something. About…people.”8) And I feel bad: he really is interested, which I take as a compliment, and I hate making him feel shut out, because he’s my friend. And if I really didn’t want him to know, wouldn’t I have made a habit of writing in my own Fortress of Solitude, viz. the attic that’s only accessible through my bedroom? And if I tell him there’s a blog, I can’t exactly refuse to tell him where it is. There’s nothing I’m ashamed of on here, but it’s some pretty personal sh★t. Does anybody really want to know that much about the guy they live with?
But these questions don’t bother me, not tonight. God has proved himself good time and again, and as for that funk I’m starting to dare to say that I’m coming out of — guys, the Memorare? One heck of a prayer.