Friday, April 16, 2010

Being out as an ally

How things change! Although I've had two blogs, only on this one have I been "open and affirming." It was before Ray was out that I actually began to blog, and I had no idea that I would EVER have something this public and revealing about my personal life. I want to share how this change occurred, so I will.

I started blogging over 5 years ago, through a very veiled blog called Knitter's Greenhouse. I was inspired to write a blog by my daughter, Liz, and my son, Phil, who at that time, both had blogs of their own. I was familiar with blogs since '98-99, when Phil had shown me his blog. He was away from home doing an internship with Teen Mania, and the blog was a way to drop in on his life and comments, and he welcomed me to read his entries.

Liz is also a wonderful, talented writer. She is currently working toward her MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) at the University of New Hampshire. I tell people that Liz has been writing since she could hold a pencil - and this isn't much of an exaggeration. She journaled since middle school (or before) and when she was even younger she wrote LOTS of stories - that I was not allowed to read until they were FINISHED.

Karen, my oldest daughter, even has a family blog and a business blog. (I don't see near enough entries on that family blog - hint hint) Meanwhile, Sara (whom I call "my baby daughter") has even kept a blog for short periods of time, but sometimes it gets very demanding, and FACEBOOK takes enough time to update and read, so I totally understand that she can't maintain a blog.

I tell you, dear readers, about all these to let you know that these kids had to get their communication skills from their dad. And as time passed, they inspired me to set up and write a few lines, hence, Knitter's Greenhouse. I couldn't even come up with a better name than that. Nothing snappy or original, but those things are what I like and am "into," so I started right about the time that Ray built me a greenhouse to play with my plants.

Soon after I started writing, I realized how little I could say - NOT because I ran out of words, but because my life came screeching to a halt. It was in Dec. 2004 that Ray "came out" and I could no longer share what I was going through, without revealing what I was going through.

It was a crazy time, and my writing was vague and distant.

I never revealed anything about my name or my personal struggles, even though I referenced my kids and was linked to Liz's, where she DID always use her real name. I knew that a slip could say too much, and we were not ready for that - I was not ready for that. My favorite post was about a shell called a Junonia. When I re-read it to post the link, I think I sound a lot more together than I actually felt, but I was doing the best I could at the time.

Some friends were quilters, and I caught their enthusiasm. Quilting and sewing took my mind from my problems, and I had a grandbaby coming. By winter of 2005, before Arya was born, I sewed a BUNCH of baby quilts, knitted an afghan, and experienced joy in my creations. As time went by, I also put up photos of my projects, and blogged occasionally, still anonymously. No one EVER read that blog except my family, and that was really why I had started it in the first place. The blog served its purpose.

I can't remember when it was, but out of the blue I got some anonymous questions: "Was my husband gay?" Freaking out doesn't describe my panic! What if this was OUT THERE? My thoughts were that no one would understand, no one would realize that Ray and I had parted on friendly terms, and no one would understand that this was still our private situation. Plus, this person was ANONYMOUS! They didn't approach me with disclosure on THEIR part, so I realized that I had NO obligation to respond.

My solution to the problem was to change the blog address slightly, make a post about who the blog was for, and ignore anonymous complainers, questions, or rumors.

By April of 2007 a HUGE change happened for me! I met Peterson Toscano, from whose blog I had learned so much. Here's my first "coming out" as a very timid ally: April 2007 (note added 10:18 on Friday, 4/16/10**somehow this link was omitted in what I posted)

In 2008, by the time Ray's Word contract had expired (April of 2008), Ray and I decided together that it was becoming the "right time" to go public. Ray wanted to sing again. He had new songs, and he had gained a level of self-acceptance that assured him that he no longer wanted to be closeted. For myself, I had learned enough and made enough contacts in the world of advocacy, that I WANTED him to come out! I WANTED to be able to stand up for other people, and I WANTED to be openly affirming of ALL people who identify as GLBT. In September, what we refer to as "the article" came out.

When I felt I could be silent no longer (which I've never been good at) I decided to start a brand new blog and call it, "My heart goes out." This time around I didn't want to be vague, veiled or anonymous. I knew that putting things on the internet was going to open myself to more criticism, but I had nothing to be ashamed of. I was not ashamed of Ray, our life together, nor our decision to divorce. Sad, yes. Still grieving, yes. Closeted as an ally? NO! I decided to be open, self-revealing, and honest, and once I made that decision, I just kept at it. I knew that reading the stories others shared had been so valuable for me, I wanted to share that with others who need it. Without having to hide, I could once again be myself, and I think everyone wants that. It's what I want for others, and it's why I'll continue to write.

So if you want to read some of the backstory, go see my quilts and my "secret blog." If you want the open story, want to know what I really think, or if you're just plain "nibby"* you can catch up on this one. There are no secrets any more. :)



Jarred said...

This is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. And thank you for your courage to come out and be such an outspoken ally.

petersontoscano said...

Carol, I love you and feel honored to be part of your journey. We need to talk soon and catch up!

Nancye said...

Carol I want you know how much your stand means to people, especially to Christians like myself who have had to come out. It gives me hope that my family can come to terms with my coming out because yours was able to with Ray's. Of course its not easy but you could so easily have gone the other way. You gave me hope in the midst of turmoil, so when you see the negative comments just remember there are people you have given inspiration to and I reckon that counts for so very much.