Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Wednesday Whine & Wine with Heidi Cullinan
Late Bloomers: Yes, Some Gay Men and Women Still Come Out After the age of Twenty-Five
I feel like in the five years since Hero was first written gay rights have gone that far and again in light years. The landscape is changing so fast, and in general in so many positive ways, it’s easy to think that coming out, while still tense, is not such a big deal anymore.
While it’s definitely easier overall, I think—in fact, I know—that no matter how old you are or how the world has turned, standing up and saying, “I deviate from what is still overall the norm” is always mentally harrowing. So much so that for a lot of us, our brains work like hell to not go there at all until our true orientation climbs up from behind and shanghais us. Or quietly sets the truth out on the table and waits for us to acknowledge it, or some remix on one of those themes.
It’s an easy reach to make one’s first gay romance a coming out book for a lot of reasons. One, the conflict is built in. Two, the author is coming out too—first books are always a bit of a reveal, but if one is writing outside of one’s own orientation, it feels like cover. When I wrote Hal, I wanted to do a coming out, but less to the world and more to himself. It would be two more years from the point of writing that book before I would realize that Hal wasn’t the only one coming out.
I knew I was at the very least not particular about who I found sexually attractive when I was twelve and my friend and I found her father’s Hustler magazines in the back of a barn. I also got a peek at the sexy buxom woodcut inside a sleazy local’s pimp van. I remember, vividly, looking at female tits and ass and thinking that’s not bad at all. I also remember the mental metal doors slamming down on those thoughts. No. You can’t like that. Don’t think about it anymore.
And to be honest, it was easy to do, because I liked boys too. Never quite the way other girls did, but boys were okay. Especially the boys who were a lot more feminine. The ones people whispered were gay…and sometimes (okay, usually) later turned out to be exactly that. Oh, if a woman looked butch, my head got really screwed up, and I had to slam some doors again. But hey, I liked boys! It was all good. I’d just focus on that.
I’m 41 this August, and the truth is, a lot of my bisexual, gay, and lesbian friends of my generation came out late. Some of us kept our own consciousness out of it as long as possible, but it caught up with us all eventually. Some of us knew right away and decided to simply not go anywhere with sex or dating, period. It’s funny, because in our day nobody talked about orientation. We just all knew somehow it seriously wasn’t okay to be anything but straight, and if we could at least fake it, we would.
The world might be a little more open to more than one orientation now, but I don’t believe for a second it still isn’t scary to say I’m different. YouTube overflows with nervous videos of gay men and women coming out to supportive family members, and yet those coming out are always terrified until I love you comes back at them after they’ve revealed a little more of who they are. Some of us are braver than others. Some of us have better proving ground. Some of us are socially singled out and not allowed to hide.
When I wrote Hal, I wanted to explore an older character who tried to ignore the truth about who he was, then was rewarded with a happily ever after as he accepted who he was and didn’t hide it any more. I’m not yet quite as public as he is about it. I never lie about my orientation, but I’ve only told a very select group of family members and longtime friends that I’m bisexual. It’s hard to break old habits of letting people assume.
I have to say, though, every time I come out a little further, I feel a little freer and a lot happier. It’s not always rainbows and puppies, but it’s honest, and it never gets old, feeling like you’re truly yourself.
So here’s to all the shy violets, the longtime deniers, the sexually confused. I answer to all of the above, and I there’s room beside me on the late bloomer bench. Take your time, but don’t be afraid. Being your true self is always the right answer.
Reissuing August 2014 from Wilde City
Construction worker Hal Porter knows he’s nobody special. But when strange events draw him into a magical world, he becomes the only man who can free Morgan, a lonely, long-enchanted shape-shifter. Whether he feels he’s worthy or not, Hal is the hero Morgan has been waiting for. However, Hal’s task becomes personal as he and Morgan fall in love. Now, to save Morgan and give himself the happily ever after he’s always longed for, Hal will need to do something far more daunting than face Morgan’s captor or finally come out of the closet… He’ll have to believe in himself.
This title has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren't enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn't writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.