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Memphis Flyer A Family Outing

Even with the closet door open, a husband and wife endure.

By Randy Siegel

MAY 8, 2000:  My wife stared at me blankly, her face void of emotion, my words too horrific to absorb. I had just told her I was gay and was leaving. With six words, 14 years of marriage and 39 years of lies ended.

I had done it. I never thought I could. My life and the lives of those I loved would never be the same, and I was scared. I was no longer a mainstream married man. Instead, I was a queer, a fag, and a homo. I feared I would lose my family, friends and future. I feared for my wife.

"What will happen to me?" she cried out as pain pumped into every cell of her being.

"How could I do this to her?" I asked myself, racked with guilt. I would soon learn love overpowers fear. Truth triumphs over guilt.

Looking back, my decision to marry was a complicated one. I thought I loved her, but knew I was gay. Marriage was the ultimate cover. Fewer people would speculate on my sexuality, and if it didn't work out, divorce would provide a smoke screen.

In many ways our marriage was a good one. We enjoyed each other's company, shared similar interests, and forged a partnership most businesses would envy. Our marriage was far from perfect, however. While we were sexual on occasion, we were never intimate. One cannot speak from the soul wearing a mask.

At age 38, cracks began to form on the walls protecting my life. I blamed work for my unhappiness, thinking my job was no longer fulfilling.

I secured the names of two counselors, an industrial physiologist and a psychiatrist. I went to both.

After giving me the Myers Briggs test, the industrial physiologist informed me I was already in an appropriate job in the right field. The psychiatrist was more perceptive, suggesting I was searching for something more than a new career.

Before I knew it, I had told him I was gay. By admitting it to someone else, I admitted it to myself. The first step of coming out was coming out to myself.

His response would change my life. He assured me my wife and I would survive. With the right support I could come out, and we would be fine. I went to him a few more times, but the chemistry didn't feel right. A friend recommended another therapist. "But she's tough," my friend warned.

As I shared my story with the new therapist, I emphasized I had been faithful. I wanted her to know I was a good person. Integrity was important to me.

"Don't you see? You're living a lie." she responded. Her words were a boil on my soul waiting to be lanced.

A week later, I told my wife I was seeing a therapist. I was unhappy with "every aspect of my life." The door was open for dialog. Sensing a demon waited on the other side, she slammed it shut.

Fate was watching out for me, for I was not yet prepared to weather the crisis of coming out. Before coming out, I needed more information and a strong support system. Although I had a few gay friends, I knew little what it meant to be gay.

I began secretly reading gay newspapers, magazines, and several books on coming out. My therapist helped me find a support group for married men who are gay, and I began lining up friends who I could count on when crisis hit.

Within several weeks, I was ready to face the storm. No sooner had my wife and I returned from a Memorial Day trip that I blurted it out. I came out to my wife. For weeks, I had worried about what I would say, but when I spoke from love, the right words came.

Stripped of all pretenses, we felt naked and exposed. Raw and vulnerable, we shared intimacy for the first time. We talked openly and honestly about our fears for the future, and found strength in each other.

We would survive.

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