The 6 Challenges of Coming Out Late | Gay Life After 40. com

The 6 Challenges of Coming Out Late

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By Writers  Deepak Sood/ William Smith

I have a few friends who came out late in life. Late bloomers is what I fondly call them. On the surface, they always seemed calm and collected but deep inside there was turbulence and turmoil. My good friend Tim, came up to me and asked me if it was too late to come out. To be honest, I was astounded as Tim seemed happy with his wife and three children. They had a beautiful home in the suburbs. They went on yearly vacations together, they had family over for Christmas and thanksgiving. Tim’s oldest boy was in high school and was doing well. I was speechless, when he broke the news to me.

I, then,  wondered  how he must have felt all his life, having a dual life of denial. Hiding his true self and not accepting who he was from birth. He must have a lot of pain and it took a lot of courage to tell me his own personal secret that he had kept all his life and never told his mother, father, siblings and alike. A secret that was bottled inside of him for 40 years. I couldn’t imagine his unbearable pain, his frustration and his trials and tribulations. We decided to meet for lunch on Saturday. I needed time to process what had just happened and to be prepared to answer any of his questions.

So we met for lunch on Saturday and discussed the challenges and benefits that he would have to consider if he decided to come out late in life . The gay world, like the straight world has just as many challenges and obstacles to consider.

 

1. Married with kids. Gay men get married to women for several reasons from familial, societal to religious pressures. Moreover, some may feel if they get married, the homosexual tendencies will go away or at least be controlled. The biggest challenge to coming out late in life is now you are breaking apart your family unit.  Your spouse will suffer  great pain, and anguish that is totally  understandable . Your children will experience the loss of their father in daily activities and living underneath the same roof. Therapy and family counseling may help to navigate through this with your wife and children.

If you decide on a divorce, you can still be a good and loving partner to her and a great father to your kids. There is a website for spouses and the wife would benefit from connecting with the Straight Spouse Network: straightspouse.org. Also, some women may feel relief because they’ve endured a long and painful marriage and now can start a new life as well. You are not alone in having this situation Conservative estimates indicate that roughly two million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in the United States have married someone of the opposite sex. When these partners come out of the closet, one-third of these relationships break up right away, a third stay together for a year and then separate, and another third commit to making it work–although three years later, only half of this last group of relationships are still intact.  I asked  Tim is he just  curious or really serious ? There is a big difference.

If he does divorce, there is a grieving process for both husband and wife.  I told Tim don’t forget to honor the life that was his in the past.

 

2. Family Acceptance. Coming out late in life and breaking of out of the glass bottle can be exhilarating. You finally are able to tell your parents who knew you as a straight man for 40 or more years that now your gay. When you tell them, you are gay there might be some anger. They may blame themselves or tell you that your just going thru a mid-life crisis and to get help. They may guilt you into going back into the glass bottle . This of course is not a real solution for you or anyone that is gay. Finally, they might say what took you so long and accept your gayness.

The important thing to consider is that it may take time but most likely your parents will accept you. Do you want to be back in the bottle for the next 40 years? It is up to you. I don’t think its justified but it is up to you. Your parents will get older and eventually pass away while you never fully experienced your true self because you were too afraid of disappointing them?

 

3. Youth is gone. Your best years are gone? I don’t think so but Gay culture tends to  honor the youth. Your 40 + years old. Why bother? A lot of late bloomers try to overcompensate for lost time. They throw caution to the wind and shag anything they see. It is not a great idea. Besides, not every hot guy will want to be with you because you are older. Party hardy is also probably not a good idea due to health reasons and not being out in the field for many years.

Believe it or not, being gay isn’t just about the sex and raves.

I told Tim that I have personally seen a greater influx of older gay men in bars and clubs that were once married to women due to  societal  acceptance of homosexuality.

I reminded Tim that if he does fully come out, to not  limit himself  to one set of friends .Get out and meet as many type of gay people as you can: young/old, fit/fat, bear/twink, HIV positive/negative, coupled/single, straight-acting/fem, drag queens, all type of lesbians, transgender, etc.


 

4. Too many life stressors all at once. You are dealing with divorce, separation from your kids, finding a new place to live, coming out, starting your gay life and that is a lot of sh*t. When you post your profile on online dating sites or talk to some gay guys, they will be cautious because you have a lot of baggage.

Be confident and assured in the belief that you have gained wisdom that you’ve learned over the years. You have experienced many things that many gay men have not. If you display confidence, there is nothing more sexier than that. Your baggage actually could benefit you.

 

5. There is no gay training school or crash course for late bloomers.

It is a learning curve to understand parts of the gay sub cultures. There may be words that you may never heard of like tops, bottoms, versatile, bear, twink,  bareback, etc., Every club or bar is a little different . Also. gay porn can’t be trusted completely when it comes to what to learn about gay sex.

Make a commitment to learn about gay history, culture, arts, politics, and personalities. Read books by gay authors; subscribe to magazines like Advocate, Instinct, and alike; visit internet sites that cover GLBT topics. Again, porn isn’t a realistic picture of what being gay is all about .

Again, don’t limit your pool of friends or the people you talk to .Get out and meet as many type of gay people as you can: young/old, fit/fat, bear/twink, HIV positive/negative, coupled/single, straight-acting/fem, drag queens, all type of lesbians, transgender, etc. I always found it to be fun but also I have learned a lot.  No one is truly what you think the traditional stereo type is …everyone is so different and many are accepting. They want to tell you their story, for the most part, and it can be a great learning experience.

 

6. Finding Love

Everyone is looking for love? Not everyone in the gay world wants to settle. But most straight people think that gay men are always sleeping around. Truth be told, most gay men are searching for love esp. after a certain age  . Based on my experiences , most gay men maybe just too picky or feel that If they settle there maybe a better guy around the corner and they will have a missed opportunity but that’s another story!

Finding love, acceptance and a monogamous relationship is the biggest challenge but it happens everyday!

So,  I told Tim to look at the 6 challenges. Coming out late in life is not simple. There are many variables to consider. It’s a phenomenon that one will see more and more now that gay acceptance is growing . I left Tim alone and to let him decipher what he wanted to do. The decision is up to him.

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Deepak Sood can be found on his own website called http://www.desigaylife.com/. It is packed with humor, and great advice. Check him out!

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12 Comments

  1. Stefan Galea

    April 18, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    coming out at forty+, after being married and have kids is a huge trauma. In my case, I was worried on a number of fronts. First and foremost, I was upset at the pain I was causing to all the loved ones around me (including my wife). Secondly, until I told my kids and knew their reaction, I was petrified they would not accept me (they did, no problem). Thirdly, after a lifetime denying (at about thirty, I could bring myself to say I was gay) myself men, I was worried that though identifying as gay, I would then be disgusted to sleep with them. That would then mean I would sit on the wall, not good for men and not good for women, thus bringing up the question, is all this bloody worth it. Coming out of the closet is a terrible expression, giving the impression that you can open the closet door and jump out. I would prefer to call it coming out of the tunnel. A small dark tunnel full of cockroaches that you know you need to pass through to get to the other side. You can’t even see the light on the other side. Is that bloody worth it? Well lemme tell you, it was. I have never been so in touch with my feelings as I am now. I take the attitude if you don’t like gay, its your problem, not mine. I don’t think anymore if the clothes I’m wearing are gay, I look at a man, think him sexy and am not worried I’ll be caught out staring. Oh yes, I’m gay, I’m out and happy. It was worth every penny and though coming out was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life, with counselling and support from my kids, I don’t regret the decision. As for my wife, we have separated and have remained friends and supportive of each other. As for friends, forgive them when you first tell them and they say all the wrong things. Judge them later to see if they call you up to offer support over the next few months. Many won’t, but you make new friends and will also reacquaint with old friends you haven’t been in touch with as they hear about you and call you to see how you are. As for going out, I’m still learning those things. I haven’t managed to get myself to use a gay apps, but I suppose sooner or later I will have to. But take each step at a time, there is no rush and you will get there.

    • Karl

      May 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      This article, and your response Stefan, are awesome. I’m in the process of finalizing my divorce. My wife and I have decided that neither of us are happy after 26 years of marriage. I have been building up the courage to come out at 52. Two of my three children will be totally accepting of the news. My wife will not be surprised as I have denied here accusations in the past (wasn’t ready). My oldest son will have the hardest time with this because he is getting married in a few months. I know he will come around because we have a great relationship.

      I plan on waiting until after my son’s wedding to come out because I don’t want to take their moment from them. I also need the divorce to process. Do I have a plan? Hell no! I’ve been winging it for so long. I do feel I’m on the right track and feel that I’ve come to some realizations. I feel like I’m moving on to the next chapter in my life. Still unsure. Very nervous. Excited. One step at a time. I need time to find me!

      • Jim

        January 15, 2017 at 7:05 pm

        Karl, you would not believe the similarities we share….I am 52, and I just told my youngest son everything…I was married for 28 years, and divorced now….and I am in total bewilderment…..where do I go from here? what do I do? I am happy with my life, but, so unsure of the future……I have questions, unanswered questions, but, as each do goes by, i will get answers to them and experience each do, living true and open….which will sure take some getting used to, been good at lying for sooo many years…..

  2. Jim

    December 15, 2015 at 5:45 am

    As an older gay man who lived his life in the closet until he was 50, I can say that yes, I can live my “authentic” self, but in many respects, coming out was not worth it. All of the 6 points mentioned above are true, especially the part about “gay life” being about being young and fit. I am neither. As a result I have come to accept that I will live my life never having experienced true love. I’ve thought I had come close a couple times, but it did not work. I say this now, as a gay man 63 years of age, while I thought it was the best call at the time, now I regret it.

    I also have read so much about the negative things about being gay and older – discrimination in elder care, even being discriminated in housing, about the higher suicide rates in older single gay men, in higher suicide rates and many, many other areas.

    In other words, it was a bad call for me. 50 years in the closet for maybe 30 good years? Well, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If only I had the guts to be myself when I knew I was gay (70’s), life would have been much different.

    • Steve

      September 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      I am 59 married hetero for 38 years. I just told an older girl cousin of mine 3 weeks ago that I am Bi. She was so supportive and I felt so relieved and such release I can’t find adequate words. I think it is so much more difficult to come out at an older age simply because everyone who knows you associates with you and relates to you as a hetero. Bursting that familiar bubble throws many of them for a shocker because now they don’t know how to relate to you. SAD…BUT TRUE. BUT TRUTH IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN LIVING A LIE…ANYDAY !!!

  3. Christian

    December 21, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    I rarely write in response to an article, but I felt compelled to do so here. While I agree with the author on several points, there is one point that I believe he gets wrong, wrong, wrong. In regards to his friend, Tim, he implies that Tim was struggling with his sexuality all of his life. While this may be true, there seems to be a premise that Tim was not happy in his marriage, or his marriage was a sham. Since I do not know Tim, I will speak for myself.

    I married when I was 26 to an intelligent, beautiful woman. I spent 23 married years with her, and I loved every single minute of it. Contrary to what you may think, we had a very good and active sex life. Of course, with every relationship sex probably diminishes as time increases. I worked hard at my job, we lived a very comfortable lifestyle.

    The crack came when I was 40. I began to suffer from severe depression. I was hospitalized on three occurrences between 40 and 48 years old. I knew something was wrong with me. I really did not know what it was, but suspected. After my third hospitalization I had a chance occurrence at a museum when I met a man. I had been hit on several times by gay men, but I never allowed myself to act upon it. I had a very conservative Christian outlook on life.

    Well, what started as a friendship grew into something much more. When I first kissed my friend, a revelation occurred within me that was unexplainable. All, I can say is that I knew what was wrong. Four years later my friend and I are still together.

    Point 4 in the article, cannot even begin to express the hell that I have been through. I made a horrible divorce agreement due to shame and humiliation. I was outed, divorced, and financial stressed all at the same time. My friends sided with my ex-wife. I will tell you right now, there were times I wanted to die. I went to work, took some Advil when I got home, and I read almost every Somerset Maugham book written while listening to classical music. I can only tell you four years later, that I am beginning to live again.

    Sexuality is a complex issue. Just because some one lived one way for a certain time in their life, and a different time in another period, well, it doesn’t necessitate that one period was more real than another, all it means is a change has occurred. I believe we all come into ourselves at separate and different times in our lives. I will end by encouraging those who struggle to be out late and gay to seek help. You are not alone…and they’re are as many types of gay cultures as there are people. Per Joseph Campbell, “We must let go of the life that we have planned, as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

  4. Oliver

    December 26, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am 53 and had a gay epiphany about 2 years ago. Very powerful experience. Luckily I shared my story to a friend who has been very supportive since then. Still not out but working on it. I always try to get involved in gay culture in some way. I come from a very homophobic family which makes it more difficult. I got divorced from my ex wife 3 years ago and have one daughter. It’s a daily struggle to come to terms with my own sexuality but I keep coming back to the memory of my epiphany which was very clear. I am determined to be happy and the fighting is well worth it.

    • Jim

      January 15, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Oliver, wishing you strength, and courage to take each new day as a chance to live open, free and no more wearing a mask…at least that is what I did…..I am 52 and just told my youngest son everything. I am on the verge of telling my oldest son and my ex wife…we were married 28 years, and been divorced now 7yrs…..I hope for the best for you and your new journey, as I am taking mine as well…….but, to be free and open, is a complete new experience….no more watching my words if I say the wrong thing about another guy, or get caught admiring a handsome guy…..I can look, speak and live without restrictions or fears!!!!!

    • Sal

      February 8, 2017 at 2:46 am

      at 60, I began to have sex dreams – never had then before with women…then, all of a sudden, my sex life was back — in full force, but only with another guy or sometimes with a couple…I thought I was sick, getting Altzeimer’s etc — no – I was wrong, I am Bi and only happy and satisfied when in a bi relationship.
      How could I not know this for 40 years ?? That is the real sickness – hiding from yourself.

  5. Jack

    March 19, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    I recently came out at the age of 52. It is has been an amazing journey oh self discovery. I always knew I was gay from a very early age. However I was heavily closeted for several reasons namely because I had an identical twin who was very heterosexual. I was concerned about my “coming out” would somehow te heterosexual. I was concerned about my “coming out” would somehow taint him. I also wanted children. I saw no other avenue open to me in my earlier years. So, I got married and had children. I later divorced and waited until the children were adult age until I recently came out. I’ve been very heartened to learn that I have met with almost universal joy in the process. Reactions were or on a continuum, naturally. Some people are far more happier than others and others have expressed “sadness” privately to others. Even my twin brother, who had no idea about my sexuality, has fully accepted and embraced it. However, the people that mean the most to me have been incredible. I am not sorry that I waited as I have and have no regrets. After all my journey has meant that I was able to have experience of raising children (something that I would never trade for anything.). On top of all of this I have recently found love! Almost simultaneously with my “coming out” I reconnected with the one and only person that I had experienced a homosexual relationship with previously. My cup runneth over. For the first time in my life I am living my life authentically. I now happily rejoice in coming out to people who have not yet heard the news. I to share of the opinion that others, if they so choose, can wear the burden that I wore for so many years. However that burden has been thrown asunder!

  6. Jude

    May 16, 2017 at 5:39 am

    It sad that the article and the commentators have little to say about remorse or compassion for their exwives. Being with someone for so many years, one would think that causing such excruciating pain and chaos to someone you built a life with would be top of the list. I also find it interesting that there is so much emphasis on the physical. These two points in combination are eye opening as I struggle to understand the gay culture.

    • Tom

      May 22, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      Under the first point, the author states: “The biggest challenge coming out later in life is you are now breaking apart your family unit. Your spouse will suffer great pain, and anguish that is totally understandable.” Did you miss that?

      Did you miss Christian’s comment about being hospitalized for depression and being suicidal? Did you think that was due to being self absorbed and a complete lack of empathy? Try re-reading the comments with an eye towards reading between the lines without preconceived notions.

      Jude, I invite you consider whether you have any preconceived judgments about men or women who have been in mixed orientation marriages. Over the past few years, I have discovered that it’s a myth that the man or woman intentionally goes into the marriage on the down low, or is all the while acting out sexually on the side. Everyone’s story is different. Some men may have had homosexual attractions but little in the way of emotional connection with men. The conversion therapies and ex-gay therapies prey upon this, seeking to reconcile perceived separations from inadequate touch or being poor at softball. Something or someone later in their life may shatter their world and open up previous unexperienced emotions.

      Such an awakening is very complex. Accepting it can take time, and dealing with the logistics can be arduous and painful. It’s paradoxical that one party coming out results in family members going into a closet of sorts. I’ve read it typically takes three to five years for spouses and family members to work through it all.

      This web site, “GayLifeAfter40: aging forward” is kind of self explanatory don’t you think? Most of the commenters are providing encouragement to others in this situation, not dwelling on the torment of how to navigate through it while minimizing the pain to those they love.

      If anything, men stay in this painful paradox simply because they don’t want to cause other pain, selling themselves short in the process.

      Missing here are comments of men who committed suicide to leave their family life insurance.

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