Tag Archives: anonymity

1—It’s my writing day, and that’s a good day, but frankly, I’m in a lot of pain. These road bumps come and go, and I know better than to try reinterpreting my whole life in the light of how I happen to feel today, but today I happen to feel really awful. It’s like those days when you lie in bed shaking with the flu and you just think, “Gosh, I’d like this to over, but it keeps going instead.” Just waiting for the upswing, and in the meantime finding comfort where I can.

2—On the bright side, Pope Francis has released a new encyclical today: Lumen Fidei, the light of faith. You can get it on the Vatican’s website, of course. I’m working my way through it now.

3—I’m super psyched for Matt Jones’ coming out post today. He’s one of the best gay Christian writers I know on the interwebz, and a great human being besides. If you haven’t already read his stuff (as “Jordan”) on Gay Subtlety, there’s a lot of wisdom and entertainment (wisdertainment?) there too.

4—This and other events have me rethinking my own stance towards anonymity. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if I followed suit before too long — partly it’s just a matter of bowing to the inevitable, since my voice is already out there on the net, and soon my face very likely will be too (more on that as that story develops), so maybe my name won’t be that big of a step. But I wanna have some fanfare! I want a party! And also I just want to bide my time and make sure I’m doing it right.

5—Today I needed Confession, like bad, and I actually left my writing spot at the coffee shop in the middle of the day to hunt down the priest after the 12:15 Mass at the Cathedral. Turns out this is the one day he couldn’t make it. That didn’t help my day any. It’s like, you know the Lord isn’t actually telling you “I don’t want to see you” or “I don’t forgive you,” but it’s hard not to feel that way anyway. Catholic Guilt, I know.

6—On the plus side, on my way back to the coffee shop, as I’m processing this and reminding myself of everything I really do know about the Lord, how he’s actually not mean and would actually not rather see me burst into tears in traffic, if it could be avoided, I see this bumper sticker: “Esfuérzate y sé valiente”, be strong and courageous; which is not only relevant but contains a little personal nod, because for me (thanks to my stay in Peru), Spanish is the language of the Lord and of the heart.

Then I look up the full verse and just kind of go, Huh. Well.

7—I’m not nearly as big into Signs as I used to be, but whenever I see something like that, I think of that bit in Lewis’ The Silver Chair:

“Don’t you mind him,” said Puddleglum. “There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant King caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things that would come of them; including this.”

I know that doesn’t do a great job of explaining this moment, but if you’ve read the book you’ll get it, and if you haven’t, you should!

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.

1 Yeah, that movie has nothing to do with this post at all.
2 That sentence sure got creepy fast, didn’t it?
3 Was I ever really dumb enough not to delete the search history? Seriously.
4 Dearest R., who I still reads this thing: I mean that affectionately, I promise.
5 Joke. Mostly. Hey, what family doesn’t F★ck each other up, is what I’d like to know.
6 “That corpse you planted last year in your garden, / Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?”
7 Tolerating? If idiosyncracy were an animal, there would be like seventeen of them on our coat of arms. Rampant.
8 Okay buddy, getting a little self-indulgent with the inside jokes.

Pretty soon here I’m going to slip up. I’m @stevegershom on twitter, I’m steve.gershom on gmail, but I’ve got “real” accounts on both of those places, too. This has been happening to me in meatspace, too, and not just since I started blogging here. I was at a party recently where a couple of gay guys were reminiscing about their coming-out experiences, and I almost jumped in with, “Yeah, when I told my family…” — forgetting, for the moment, that most of the people there might have been a little surprised.1

This is definitely a good sign. There was a time, not very long ago, when the thought that anybody might find out about me was more or less terrifying. Now I practically assume everybody knows. Not because it’s obvious, but because I’m much more comfortable with it.

I was talking with my friend Emily once — I was a heavy smoker at the time2, and she’s a social smoker, and we loved talking over coffee and cigarettes on Sunday afternoons — and something about “deep, dark secrets” came up. I said something to the effect that everybody’s got some deep dark secret. She said, quite simply, “I don’t.” And then peered at me in this way she has, like she was just about to start laughing.3

I was a little embarrassed, I think. I had said it as if it were an obvious truth. But she meant what she said: I don’t believe she has anything dreadful hidden away. It’s not that she goes around revealing everything on her mind all the time, but she doesn’t have the same instinct for concealment that I do.

I forget if this story had a point. Oh yes, I was going to ask you, readers, now that I have readers: what do you think about the question of anonymity? Is there any point to keeping hidden? Are there any drawbacks to letting it all hang out?4 I’d especially like to hear from people with personal experience in the matter.

1 Or, you know, maybe not. As my sister said when admitting her not-too-shockedness at my revelation: “I grew up with you, you know?”
2 Alas, no more. I loved being a heavy smoker.
3 Which she then did. Again: just because I like men doesn’t mean I don’t find women mysterious.
4 Can’t seem to stop speaking in double entendres on this damn thing. Sometimes I think my mind is just as filthy as when I was 12.

Already I’m getting tired of this anonymity thing. I keep wanting to post on facebook to all my friends, about how excited I am about the new blog, about how many good conversations are likely to come from this. Also about how little prepared I feel to be anything like an authority on the subject, and how much prayer I need, not only about the daily, normal things that everybody deals with, but about this new project.

The truth is that I don’t fully understand the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. I understand that biologically, homosexuality doesn’t make any sense. I understand that the Church wouldn’t prohibit something unless it was really and truly bad for us. What I’m still working on understanding is the emotional aspect.

I know that, every time I’ve been in love with a man, it’s been from a place of woundedness. During high school and early college, the guys I fell for all seemed to have something I didn’t, and something I wanted very badly. They were confident, or good looking, or athletic, or they had a tenderness about them that I had never gotten from a man.

I wonder to what extent this sort of love-from-woundedness is intrinsic to homosexual relationships. I say “I wonder” because I don’t know. I do know that, the more secure and at ease I feel in a friendship with another man, the less likely I am to be attracted to him sexually or even romantically. I have a friend Sam who I’m very close to, at least in the sense that I feel totally at ease in his presence, totally free from the need to pretend to be anything I’m not. But I’ve never felt the slightest stirring of anything sexual when I’m with him.1

On the other hand, the guys I am attracted to are the ones who make me feel insecure — the ones I envy. As I grow in gratitude for my own life and acceptance of the gifts I do have, I envy other men less, and am less prone to falling for a man in this way.

I do wish those guys in my apartment complex would quit sunbathing outside my window, though. Geez.

1 In the interests of honesty, it is probably best to admit here that this may have something to do with the fact that Sam has a face like a horse and a body like a giraffe. He’s beautiful on the inside, though.