‘COMING OUT’ AT THE AGE OF 12 IN 1948–BRAVE OR STUPID?   Leave a comment

 

‘COMING OUT’ AT 12 IN 1948–BRAVE OR STUPID?

 

“Wow, you came out in the 40’s. You must be a very brave and self-confident person.
I do know that would of been mostly unheard of. Though I think you must of had a better life than those who didn’t come out, in that you led an authentic life. I know you must of suffered in other ways though. I don’t know many people who would of been that brave.”

I received the above email from a new friend and it immediately set off a chain of thoughts. I have written about my coming out and teen years in my books “The Free Prisoner” and “Letting It All Hang Out” and as years go by—66 years now–I see those days as if it was happening today.

Brave? Or stupid? At 12-13 I really think it was stupid as I didn’t have to come out. I wasn’t ’effeminate’ or ’acted gay’ and I was a good looking kid and girls started to be ’interested’ in me and I know that was the road to deceit–and I did go down that road a couple of times which a few years later I was ashamed of doing and said ’never again’. In many ways that experience helped me understand why a gay man married and had a family–it was (and still is–sadly) a good way to hide.

Heck I wasn’t about to be bullied for either being a Jew (I lived in an Italian Catholic neighborhood—got to celebrate all the holidays!!) or being gay–luckily I lived in New York and was able to step by step discover the gay life in Manhattan and was mentored by many–and to gays today just want you to know we had a very gay life in the 40s and 50s though it was more secret (and in some ways more fun)–I learned in my teens to stand up for myself or my life would be Hell and I had enough problems at home (nothing to do with being gay) that I didn’t want them outside of home.

I did become an activist in my teens in many little ways until I reached 16, ‘divorced’ my family, went to live on my own, get a job, rent a room, pay bills and finish school but at the age of 20—1956–I really started to be active in the very small gay movement back then–never regretted it!

Brave? Possibly. Stupid? Definitely. Regretful? NOT AT ALL!

 

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Posted January 20, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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