Closeted 65-year-old gay man says he’ll take ‘secret of his sexuality’ to his grave in heartbreaking letter
As much as Prides are packed with allies and there feels like more LGBT+ characters on TV than ever, the reality is that being queer is different for everyone.
Not everyone is necessarily ‘out and proud’ in 2019.
And for one 65-year-old man, the security of the closet is something he may ultimately take to his grave.
“I’m a 65-year-old man, I am gay but have never admitted this to anyone,” he wrote to The Atlantic‘s resident life guru, Lori Gottlieb.
The man explains that while he believes his friends “probably suspect” he’s gay, they have never openly discussed it.
Drive-by jokes about not finding the right girl or a love fo travel are the man’s go-to modes of deflection.
‘I will probably take the secret of my sexuality to the grave.’
“I have secretly fallen in love with male friends over the years, but never told them, as they are heterosexual and usually in a relationship,” he said.
“Eventually I get over these crushes, and we remain good friends without my ever saying anything.
“Now I am again infatuated, this time with my male boss.
“I love his intelligence, wit and interest in life.
“He is separated from his female partner. I think about him constantly, even when I try to keep myself busy with hobbies and friends.”
“If I say nothing, this feeling will eventually subside and he will never know and we will remain friends. I will probably take the secret of my sexuality to the grave and everyone will just think I was a nice guy.
“But my heart aches. I’ve pretended for so long.”
‘So many people hide the truth of who they are out of fear.’
While coming out is a constant process, the first admittance of one’s sexuality can be euphoric. But, in some cases, can be an act that invites danger and denial from loved ones.
Anchored by nearly six decades of pretending to be someone he is authentically not, Gottlieb replies that, “the ache you’re experiencing is the ache of an incarcerated self, a self that’s been held in solitary confinement.”
Gottlieb emphasises that as much as the man frets about how coming out as gay will impact his boss, his mother and friends, he needs to re-adjust his outlook and wonder, “how it might impact you.
“On the one hand, you want to do what you’ve always done — keep things to yourself,” she continued.
“On the other, the emotional toll of keeping this secret is so agonising that you feel like you might burst — to the point where you’re finally coming out and sharing your secret with me.”
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Gottlieb goes onto suggest that the man is stymieing his own desire by seeking men who can never reciprocate his feelings back, stonewalling him from ever acting them.
Coming out is to ‘set yourself free’.
She also offers him some incredible words of wisdom: “The benefit of sharing the truth is simple: You won’t be so excruciatingly lonely.
“So many people hide the truth of who they are out of fear that it will turn people away, but with the people who matter, the exact opposite happens.
“If you let people see the truth of who you are, people will be drawn to you.”
She then adds: “Either way, I think you’ll find that it doesn’t really matter what any closed-minded people do with the information.
“You’ve endured worse in jail, in your decades-long state of extreme deprivation.
“The good news is that this letter is the key you’ve been holding. Use it to set yourself free.”