If I Never Came Out

I was talking recently about someone close to me whom I suspect to be gay. This person has never once come close to insinuating as much, and I imagine if it were ever brought to their attention in such plain terms they’d react strongly in the defensive. It’s always after I remember this – because it’s easy to forget, and that’s the point – that their sometimes being such an angry person comes back into focus. The person I was speaking with said, “Well, you’d be angry, too. Imagine if you were married to a man your entire life.” And they were right. I’d be a fucking nightmare.

I’d be a giant, raging bitch. I’d be a pan of hissing oil. I’d be Plutonium-238 in radioactive decay, pulsing a white hot heat of contempt and sexual frustration. I’d be a rusty spring coiling so far into myself I’d emit a faint crunching sound. I’d approach life with the wild spirit of a car horn milliseconds after a light’s turned green.

Gyms would serve as temples of destruction. I wouldn’t run on ellipticals — I’d march them to battle. Free weights would be a loose grip away from crashing through a ceiling, mirror or wall. Stairs would know one master, and it would be me. My body would be an unruly crowd of muscles fueled by almonds and spite.

Every manager to grace a retail floor within a 50 miles radius of me would know my name, for I would have asked for them all, in front of god and everybody. My car’s radio volume would know two settings: barely audible and off. I’d be a person that found no joy in a sky dancer. My truth, darkness.

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But I’d allow myself these pleasures: leaving the correct answer in the comments of a sponsored Facebook brainteaser post, taking my two purebred whippets off leash to scare children in the park, giving up things for lent year round, and chewing ice.

And then there would be my beautiful, idiot husband. Oh, and I would hate him. I would resent his presence in my life so thoroughly that I would destroy every part of him that made him feel whole, and he – he would be terrified of me. Not in the way that many men are of their wives around company for laughs, but privately. Deeply. I’d tear away at him like a human scratch post, and in that way that doesn’t make total sense about scratch posts, I’d become sharper as he frayed.

Without question, I would ruin this man’s life. Everyday concepts would be forever changed. Dinner, for example. He’d come to learn I’d be seconds away from yelling “YOU DO IT” if he ever so much as grazed elbows with the topics of my being a woman and the nightly preparation of food, and so diplomacy would start at lunch time. Every day he’d sit stick still at his desk eating a sandwich mentally navigating the hours ahead. Sex for him would also enter a new form of consciousness. He’d approach the infrequent amount of it we’d have like a cautious groundskeeper in a lioness sanctuary – with the posture of someone who knows they’re interrupting and careful to never meet my eye line.

Because I’d associate money with freedom, I’d dedicate my life to it. It’d be my career and my hobby. I’d only know peace when my money made money. And when that became boring, I’d have a child.

Predictably, I’d regret it. I’d be on some We Need to Talk About Kevin parental rearing and enable him to become the absolute monster I’d needed him to be to send him away. In the clear light that distance and autonomy provide, my son would realize I’d abandoned him long before that. This would inspire a specific kind of hate that would leave a sticky film over the lens through which he viewed women.

He’d reconcile the powerlessness that presents when perceived entitlement meets a fruitless reality by entering politics. With the leg up that wealth affords you, he’d immediately secure a high position without the necessary experience. He’d legislate like a man that’s got nothing to lose, because he wouldn’t have anything to lose, and many people would confuse this with leadership. Some people might even come to respect my dumbass son. He’d then think, “I’ve done it. I matter.” And still, I wouldn’t care.

But really, a man in a position of power desperate for the kind of approval that’ll never be satiated by the people that supply it, what’s worst that could happen?

Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 207 articles for us.

59 Comments

    • That’s the way I read it too. Except, as I understand it, his Dad was a piece of work as well, so maybe we have to go back a few generations in that dimension, on both sides of the family.

  1. This, like so many other things posted on this site, hit close to home for me.

    Every so often, I think about what my life would have become if I hadn’t gotten divorced from my husband in my early 20s and been “freed up” to explore the inner confusion that I had about my sexuality. I knew I liked women before I married him, I even told him, but I didn’t want to be gay and I married him anyway, knowing that it might not work out one day.

    A year and a half later, he ended up sleeping with his best friend’s wife. I feel like there was a lot that led up to that, and I don’t feel completely innocent about not being intimate with him. Of course there were tears and a lot of heartache and over the next year as we explored whether or not we wanted to try again and move on with our marriage. I decided to end it and now, seven years later, I’m so glad those things happened.

    I look back and think about what would have happened if he hadn’t cheated, if nothing had ever gone wrong, and I think that I probably would have been the one to bring on the heartache. In that year of marriage and even in the year or so leading up to it, I had a lot of inner turmoil over my attraction to women. I would have probably suppressed that to a point until I was the one who stepped out of our monogamous relationship and broken his heart while I found mine.

    Thank goodness we came out, Erin.

  2. I was this woman, and I was so depressed that I didn’t recognize myself. I couldn’t even take care of my kids. I looked at my daughter, and I thought “I don’t want her to think this is what life is like”, and I kickboxed my way out of the closet at 31 years old with three kids in tow. I am a much happier person, and a far better mom now. My wife is amazing, and my kids have a good relationship with their dad too. Thank goodness we came out.

  3. “I’d tear away at him like a human scratch post, and in that way that doesn’t make total sense about scratch posts, I’d become sharper as he frayed.”

    ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Erin, is the vacant and slightly entitled looking Gwyneth Paltrow person the straight person you would be in a hostile, unjust and unhinged, parallel universe? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    I am so glad you are gay.

  5. Erin, this is maybe the best thing you’ve written.* This could have been me. It almost was me. I could have had a beautiful husband who I hated. I had beautiful boyfriends who I just despised. I ran the nice boys off with a vengeance and kept these human wastes of air around just so I could feel justified in my disdain.

    I’m glad we came out. It’s nice being married to someone you don’t hate.

    *It’s tied with that time you wrote about Heather and her Carol airplane experience.

  6. This is perfect

    Also, instead of getting married, you could’ve done what I did: dated guys who were less and less available until you were literally in a long-term “hangout” (not relationship) with a dude who lived in Alaska. AK. That place adjacent to literal Canada. We talked on the phone. He came through Cali once a year and we’d, like, go to the Natural History Museum. I e-mailed him funny limericks. The next person I dated after him was obviously a woman.

  7. This article makes me see red. Makes me whole body hot and my head ache. I am this person in the article. Married to a man (because religion told me it was my only option) with whom I have two small children -even though I wasn’t ready to. Trying to get divorced, but feeling like I am making life even messier now. Here’s to hoping I won’t feel all the things in this article as I continue to make life messier leaving this relationship. Just wanted to put my story out there so people can understand as fun as this article is, there are people in this very situation, and it is quite difficult.

    • My first thought when I read this was that I’ve known people in this situation and I imagine it would be very painful for them to read, because this is people’s reality, not just a thought experiment.

      There’s no such thing as a life that isn’t messy. It takes courage to leave familiar situations we know to be wrong for us. My fingers are crossed for you.

    • I get what you are saying. Getting out was messier (and harder) than staying in. I stayed for many more years because of that. And the “think about the children” bs. Watching mommy become more and more depressed and get closer and closer to suicide isn’t a good upbringing. When my now-wife came along I had something worth causing a mess and blowing up every thing. My 4 bedroom house now his and for me a bedroom in a crazy lady’s place with almost noithing. My daughter a pawn (for him) in a legal and emotional battle (I am the bad one… If you didn’t know). My future career (what he thinks should be “his money”) held over me like a weapon. All (like ALL) our savings to lawyers. Then he comes back a few years later and is still taking half my money.

      So yeah it gets messy. But it has also never been better. My depression is as close to being controlled as it can be. My daughter and I are repairing our relationship. And I’m married to the best woman in the world.

      • Thanks for your comment and sharing a little of your story. I feel a little bit less alone in the world today. Wishing you the best in your situation too, as you continue on in your new life.

    • I honestly had it as easy as I could have because I was young and had no children with him. However messy you’re afraid that it will be, I think it’s worth thinking about your future self and happiness.

      From my personal experience, it’s amazing to be in a (now) marriage to a woman who understands the struggle, rather than to a clueless guy who wanted the best for me but never truly would understand where I was coming from. It’s wonderful to be married to a person who actually turns me on and who doesn’t leave me feeling like I’m missing something and who makes me feel actually fulfilled (in all of the ways) on the daily.

      • Thanks so much. That does give me something to hope for. And yes, the without kiddos situation would be hard for sure, but maybe a little easier than with kiddos. Depending on the person. If it wasn’t for having kiddos, I would have been able to move on by now. But here I am a year later. Still living together and still just separated. But hoping for a something better soon.

    • *fierce, fierce hugs*

      I got married young (religion: same as you). Didn’t have kids, so divorce was much easier in that sense, but getting out of that marriage (and that religion) was still the hardest thing I ever did. Folks don’t understand how leaving fundamentalism can shred your identity.

      I hear you, I see you, and I am sending you so much love. This article honestly pissed me off, too. You’re not alone. There are many of us out there. <3

      • Thanks so much for the fierce hugs. I love your description of leaving fundamentalist religion. And yes, a lot of people truly don’t understand the weight and complications of that.
        Glad to hear that you are on the other side of all of than. And seriously thank you so much for your comment. Knowing folks have gone through similar things gives me some hope.

    • It’s true for so many of us who didn’t know we were lesbians for sure until we had made some other life choices. So hard to make the changes yet it’s the only possibility. I am going through this since last year, after being married with two school aged children and while I wasn’t raging at the world I wasn’t happy either. I have had crushes on girls & women and I guess I thought of myself as bi but in a committed relationship with a man. I felt increasingly suffocated and resentful and I craved being with a woman. I went through a very real dark night of the soul and came to admit to myself and accept that I’m not even Bi-Sexual, but I am Lesbian. I finally told him & he accepted it. Kind of. He was devastated at first and eventually ok with it.I am over the moon with it – happy, authentic, centred and focused. I know and accept myself – it’s an amazing thing to have and to be. Better late than never I say.

      • Yes. Better late then never. I like that. Encouraging to hear. And it is so interesting how many ladies have kids! I am feeling less and less alone in that. And yay for accepting yourself and finding a new joy in that.

  8. Okay now but honestly how do you not love sky dancers?

    (Proceeds to rewatch four seconds of intro to make sure it’s the right video.)

    Oh… Right.

    This article isn’t what I expected… But I loved it. Especially this bit: “fueled by almonds and spite.”

  9. I went the other way and withered away into my depression and became less of a person. My now-wife was the only thing that could drag me out and make me whole. I would have died in that horrible life.

  10. What this teaches me, as a woman who loves women but not exclusively, is that the true “bisexual privilege” is the potential to be happy going with the flow and never knowing your true self.

    As a bisexual woman, I have the potential to be oblivious about my sexuality and still be perfectly satisfied.

    I say potential, because obviously when it comes to individuals and real life it doesn’t quite work out that easy. Ever since I came out to myself there’s a darkness and a weight that has been lifted from me. I was sexually satisfied, but not fully comfortable. My youth was something unpleasant and painful to be stored away in the attic, out of sight. The suppression of that part of oneself isn’t necessarily harmless. For my own part, I recognise now that the same fears that made me suppress my desire for women are the same ones that had me not breaking up what turned out to be a two-year relationship with a sexually and emotionally abusive asshole I wasn’t even attracted to at the tender age of 17. There was actually this potentially pivotal moment early in this relationship where my big (female) crush from afar ages 14-15 started spontaneously talking to me online and we made plans to go for coffee in the city. I was so panicked because what if it was a date, and wasn’t I supposed to have grown out of feelings for girls already, and what if it’s a date, what do I do if it’s a date and am I now cheating on my cheater boyfriend who also kisses boys and tells me not to be angry because boys don’t count so he hasn’t cheated on me nearly as often as I feel he has??? I wonder how different my life would’ve been if she hadn’t stood me up and I’d actually had to figure out whether it was a date or not. 😀

  11. this was an unexpected post!
    If I never came out.. I think I would have ended up marrying that poor guy I was dated years ago, probably had couple of kids and lived in the same small town all my life going crazy and frustrated. Back then I thought that all that frustration I felt was due to two things: my sexuality and that small place where everything still now is the same as 10 years ago. I actually went pretty close to it, declarying myself bisexual, so that my boyfriend and my friends would not actually think about my sexuality when I showed interest for other women, and I am extremely sorry and I apologize to all the bisexual people out there for just feeding a stereotype out of fear, I was young then, in my early 20s, but it is not an excuse.
    Well, now I live in another small town with my soon-to-be wife, planning of getting couple of kids and I could not be happier!
    It is really true that happiness comes from inside..

  12. That was certainly me until my late 20s. I was living a heterosexual lie and despite being being bi (closeted and in self-denial)—and being with someone I was attracted to—it didn’t actually solve anything. I was still denying my true self and couple with the abuse from my ex, it only made my depression, anger, and misery reach dangerous boiling points.

    All that really mattered was being true to myself. Even then, it took years of personal growth after I came out to accept that I had any value as a human being.

  13. This is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever read.

    I would go the direct opposite way (and I did, for a long while). Suppressing my sexuality resulted in a suppression of every other adjoining part of me until all of it was just a wash of unfeeling grey. If I hadn’t let myself come out, I think I would’ve just sunk deeper and deeper into myself until I was nothing, a ghost, but like a ghost asleep deep deep in underwater. I would lose myself forever. I would become a whisper, and then nothing.

    It’s funny, all these years later and I’m still learning how to speak.

  14. also, when I was 15-16 I fell into a deep depression that was really hard to fight. I fell right out of it the moemnt I came out and fell for the first girl I fell in love with. I still have depressive episodes now,but looking back on it, years later, I realize that part of what caused it was that I had to come out, that I had to accept myself. The article also reminded me of my unsuccessful straight relationship with an also non-straight guy at 14. I did not feellike myself, I was like “this is supposed to be love? well then I’m screwed”. (and I was relatively lucky, as we had a supposedly open relationship that was mainly fueled by intellectual discussions).

  15. I feel like I am getting better at my game of guess which AS writer wrote this by the blurb. I can normally tell when it is an Erin article.

    You had me at “taking my two purebred whippets off leash to scare children in the park, giving up things for lent year round, and chewing ice.”

    The chewing ice part just fucking did me in.

    This article got a few good chuckles out of me.

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