Friday, October 12, 2007

Eric, What's With All These Bear Sites?

In honor of National Coming Out Day I thought I'd shed some light on my own experience.
My family consists of five members. My Mother, my Father, My two older sisters and myself. I had come out to all my family members the summer after my freshman year of college and had hoped to come out to my father as well but missed the opportunity on my brief summer vacation from school. I head read somewhere, in some gay publication, that if at all possible, one should refrain from coming out to close friends or family members over the phone. The article stated that by coming out over the phone, one loses the interpersonal eye-to-eye connection that two people share when sitting and communicating with one another, and it many cases coming out over the phone can lead to greater misunderstandings, confusion and frustrations that may not otherwise exist when coming out in person.
I took this article to heart and understood the point it was making. So I waited as did the rest of the knowing members of my family. Christmas break came but I was only home for a week and something about the timing just didn't feel right. Then, another summer break came and I'd be home for 10 full weeks. The perfect opportunity.
The summer after my sophomore year I worked as a pizza delivery boy for a local Italian Restaurant. It was a fantastic summer. The weather was gorgeous. I had a good amount of free time and was making money in between. My friends and I hit several music festivals, raves, Phish concerts and I, being 19, was secure in my sexuality and began venturing out and meeting guys on my own free will. Throughout this time it was always on my mind to check "come out to dad" off of my summer to-do list but I hadn't yet had the right time to do so. I had just kept waiting for the perfect opportunity.
Suburban New Jersey doesn't offer many options in terms of gay nightlife. And, when you live twenty minutes west of Manhattan, the majority of the local suburban gays just head into the city. Despite the fact that I had a beard, looked older and even had a fake ID (which I never really had to use) going to New York City wasn't always the easiest option for me. Thus, I was forced to go online and seek those around me. I often cruised the same sites, BigMuscle.com, BigMuscleBear.com, MuscleBear.com, and the occasional Bear411.com. The computer was my parent's and my excursions online would only occur late at night when I'd come home from work or a friend's and they would already be asleep. Every time I was finished using the computer I had a ritual of making sure to clear the Internet history, delete my cookies and any other folders, pics or movies I had downloaded in an effort to prevent my parents from accidentally stumbling on a picture of two naked hairy men kissing one another. I just didn't think they were ready for that, just yet, and having used this article about coming out in person as a bible to live by, I certainly didn't want my father finding out his only son was gay via a website. So every night I would check, double check and retrace my steps every time I would shut down the computer- or so I thought.
One humid July morning I awoke earlier than usual and sat down at the kitchen table to eat breakfast. I heard my father's footsteps come up from the room which held the computer.
"Morning Dad," I said casually. He seemed despondent, in a daze, and looked passed me as he entered the room.
"Oh...Hi Eric," he mumbled.
"Something the matter, dad?"
"Yeah," He took a deep breath and then blurted out, "Eric, what's with all these Bear sites? What's a bear?"
"Oh shit!" I screamed to myself as my heart jumped through my microwavable Eggo Waffles and to the other side of the kitchen. I forgot to clear out the Internet history! I retraced my steps from the previous night. My friend showed up unexpectedly. She invited me out. We smoked a bowl in her car. I came home. Flicked on HBO and shit, shit, shit, shit! Never cleared out the computer! "Ohhhhh No!" I groaned under my breath.
My father looked down at the ground a sad look in his eyes. "Poor guy," I thought. I got up from the table and walked him over to the kitchen counter. I took a deep breath and looked him in the eye.
"Well Dad, I've been waiting to tell you for awhile now. I'm....gay....and....bears.....are the types of guys I like."
"Yeah, I've known for awhile now Eric. I guess I was just waiting for you to confirm it."
I thought, "awhile? He's known for awhile? How many times must I have forgotten to clear that damn history. Why doesn't it clear itself?!" I side-stepped those thoughts and responded to him.
"Dad, I'm sorry things turned out this way. But I want to let you know I've never been happier. Things are going to be OK." I smiled.
On the verge of tears, something a father never wants his son to see, he said, "I know they will be, Eric." Stunned and taking a pause, he resumed himself, "Well, I've got to get to work."
"Alright Dad, I'll see you later."
And that was it. I had come out. Just like that. My father had found what I tried so hard to protect and keep secret. But in the end these sites and my accidental negligence had been a catalyst to something I continually procrastinated. I respected my father's reaction and his distance from me during the next few days. I waited until he was ready to approach me about it. Which he did. Eventually.
I forgive him and anybody else who needs some time to themselves after I come out to them. Hell, it took me four years to come out to myself and be comfortable with it! It is only fair I allow others to have their own time with it, too.

5 comments:

Chris said...

A great story. Brought a smile to my face. Thanks. (And you are a hottie). Keep up the good work bud.

ewe said...

very sweet.

Riot said...

"Eric, what's a bear?" I lOVE this story!

buff said...

This "coming out" story should be read by all bears and cubs who have, or are thinking about coming out.

Each coming out story is different.

Most Dads already got an feeling that there son is gay. It is the reaction that is the great unknown.

We each come out in our own way.

I applaud you for sharing your coming out story. WOOOOF.

You are a hottie. Big hairy muscle hugs of thanks for sharing.

Your post made my day.

And yes, you explained, "what is a bear" beautifully.

Anonymous said...

thank you for a great story, it brought a tear to my eye. wish i could do the same....thanks again.