When I am socializing with my friends Sam and Cary, people often ask how we met each other. “Group therapy” is my response. I don’t say this because it is true, which it is, but more because I know how much it annoys Sam. After the awkward silence when the inquisitor has walked away, Sam scrunches up his face and looks at me with utter disgust “Dameron, you don’t need to be so freakin’ honest”. Now that he has given me the green light. The next time I will have a better answer: “It’s kind of a funny story; we were at this methadone clinic….” But I do believe that honesty really is the best policy.
I have only lied once about my relationship with Paul and that was because he asked me to. Not exactly a sound foundation, but it is the little way that we gay couples show our love for each other: by denying their existence so they can keep their job. It was about a year into our relationship. Paul’s company headquarters are located in the Midwest: “God’s country”. As luck would have it, we were both travelling through Germany for separate business trips. I joined Paul at the hotel bar for a drink and met several of his co-workers. His boss turned to me and asked “So, where did you two meet?” Looking down I searched my drink for an answer “AA, but it really didn’t do anything for us.” The lie was so obvious, that it didn’t seem like I was being dishonest. But after that, I vowed to never lie again. OK, that was a lie. I vowed never to lie about my relationship with Paul.
The whole point of the group that Sam, Cary and I attended was to become honest: A twelve week “coming out” support group. We would meet weekly and “check in”. This was our therapist’s way of putting us on the spot. Andy would take a deep breath in and then slowly let it out while saying “Bill, do you want to tell the group about your week?” It seems silly now, being so nervous about telling people we were gay, but during those first few weeks, it was excruciating. “You know, I practiced coming out to my neighbor’s dog, Rusty. He responded pretty well by licking me. Maybe next week I’ll have the courage to come out to my mother.”
Eventually, it became easier and I soon exhausted all of my avenues for coming out, co-workers, family, friends, The Wal-Mart cashier with one hand on her hip, everyone was fair game: “Well now you go girl! But I’ma’ need you to enter your pin number, precious.” Nobody really seemed to care. Which was nice, but once you experience the drug of being honest, you need another hit.
Soon I learned that honesty could work like a shield, deflecting undesirable situations. Travelling through Bangkok with a sexaholic straight boss can be a challenge. “Bill, I’m going to take that girl, which one do you want?” My boss said. It was the perfect opportunity to be honest. “No shit, you’re gay? Hey, what about him, do you want him?” He didn’t miss a beat, but at least the swarm of prostitutes moved on to more promising prospects.
Acquaintances from my past would contact me through Facebook. “Bill, it’s so good to see you on FB. Last year I married the man of my dreams, he’s a missionary. Have you accepted God as your personal savior?” I would spread a little bit of honesty “You married the man of your dreams? That’s great, so did I!” Poof! She was gone.
But then I applied for a job and went through a session of intensive interviews. I was excited about the job and soon learned that I was at the top of the list of candidates. It was an “Old Boys” club. All of the executives where white middle class straight men. “So, what sports did you play in high school/college?” They would ask. And then came THE question. “Does your wife mind you travelling?” Damn, honesty is a double edged sword. I thought for a minute. “Well, actually my partner travels a lot himself.” And just like that, Poof! The job was gone.
I lamented to a friend about how I was discriminated against. It was an outrage! I wished that I had the opportunity to make the decision about the job instead of having it made for me. “But you did make a decision.” He said. This made me pause and think. He was right. Honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.