My Trip Out

Gay married man coming out story

There are always options

Surprised I hadn’t told this story before, but years ago I worked for a government contractor in my relatively small Southern home town. I was a young mid-20’s in this firm of about 100 employees. Amongst us was Tom, he was the manager of operations. Tom was early 40’s, tall and lanky, always with a tie on, house in the suburbs. He was a stewart of the community, active in various business groups (Rotary, Lion’s Club) and a Deacon at his Methodist church. Tom tried to shepard me along, we had lunch together most days. Tom was just a likable guy.

I eventually took another job, left town, my adventure around the world was beginning. About a year later, I talked to one of my old colleagues.  He told me that Tom was dead.

But how and why? Tom was in good health, I assumed. My colleague though was hesitant to talk but I wanted to know.

It seems Tom had been arrested by the police at a local area park for soliciting an undercover male officer to engage in a sexual act. The police were cracking down as the park had become known as a cruising spot for gay men. Tom was later released on his own recognizance to go home.

The next morning,  Tom took his company car, drove to a small roadside motel about 30 miles outside of town, checked in to a room, stripped off his clothes, climbed in the bathtub and slit his wrists.  He was dead by suicide leaving behind a wife, a son and two daughters. No obituary was published and a private burial ceremony was held a few days later. The year 1991.

I don’t know if it was the shame of being arrested or the nature of the arrest for some immoral act or having to answer some very private questions about his sexuality to a public audience. We’re never going to know.

Had Tom lived on, he surely would have had to endure the public rath, the business groups would shun him, the church pastor might suggest he “resign” his position from the church and the office rumours would circulate. Most likely, Tom would have eventually gotten divorced, moved to another town, someplace where his past wouldn’t catch up with him. But Tom would have seen the marriage of all 3 of his children and the subsequent grandchildren.  He would have lived to fight another day.

In my own process, I have upended my life,  lost my employment because of this,  lost countless friends who couldn’t cope and became the fodder for endless hallway gossip.  It I made it look easy, it’s only because the pain of telling you how I really feel would send me as well to a small roadside motel. My reward for all this has been some brown MIA tiger bobbing around at this very moment on the Caribbean Sea. But I hold on mainly because I want to live to fight another day. You should as well.

Tom, after all, was just a likable guy.


  1. Through the years I also contemplated suicide as an end to the pain of being a closeted gay man. It was only the love of my wife and children and my love for them that always helped me see another day. I was thankfully rational enough and thankfully not desperate enough to inflict a lifetime of pain on the very people I love just to end my pain.

    Men like you Chris who share your story literally save lives and for that I will always be appreciative. Never underestimate the power of your words.

  2. I am really not suprised at this story. The american moral standards are still that of a third world country. It is a real tradegy that we gay married guys have to fo through this pressure but all of us do have a choice. Come out and risk everything, or remain closeted.

  3. Chris: Got to disagree about your reward. Having been through most of your same story, I know the reward. It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and knowing that you’ve been honest, even if it took you a long time to get there. It’s living your life honestly. It’s letting those who love you know who you are, and allowing them to accept you knowing it all. TC is a nice bi-product of that, but he’s not the reward. Hopefully, this won’t happen, but if his ship never does dock in your port again (or perhaps it’s your ship docking in his port?), you still have the rest.

  4. Your story about Tom evoked so many thoughts for me that it’s hard to pick the one I’d most like to share. I have a weak stomach and I can’t bear to imagine all the bad things that Tom felt or all the horror that the people who loved Tom had to endure. One random, positive thought that came to me was that maybe, just maybe, if the internet was around in 1990 or 1991, Tom would have been able to reach out to others, as we do here, and he would have had enough support to bear his burden. Maybe you don’t even know it Chris, but just by telling your story and being available for so many guys, you may have saved a family from a tragedy like Tom’s.

  5. I think I go along with Gary here. TC is a bi product of your growth. You’ve allowed yourself to explore the “possibilities” of your life. You love your family, always have always well. But you also love yourself. And I never ever read shame in any of your postings. There are a lot of us “Tom’s” out there, it’s a tragedy and hopefully the ability to read “life stories” will give them strength to carry on.

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