In explaining why he decided to publicly announce that he is gay, Ricky Martin said that while writing his memoir and thinking about his two twin sons, he concluded that he needed to stop living a lie. On his website he states in part as follows on officially coming out of the closet:
*"Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions. . . . To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where [sic] born with. Enough is enough. This has to change. . . The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. . . . this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.""
In coming out, Martin took a step that I delayed for many years - decades in fact. And that delay cost me a terrible price in terms of my relationships with my three children. I expended so much effort trying to "be straight" so as to gain the acceptance of so called friends and family, that I missed being authentic to my children. There was always an invisible barrier that I kept between myself and my children and literally everyone else. Worse yet, there was the inner conflict and self-hate that made me truly less than the best good father that I might otherwise have been. In my view, Ricky Martin got it right and as a result will likely have a far better relationship with his sons than if he continued to struggle and live a life other than his own.
This issue came to mind a few days ago from a convergence of factors. First, there is the damaged relationship I continue have with my two older children, the situation with my son being perhaps the most painful since I have had no communication with him whatsoever in over a year. Next there was Ricky Martin's announcement as well as an e-mail from a reader that went into the problems as he saw that that gays cause themselves by living closeted and ultimately denying themselves happiness and a fuller enjoyment of life. Lastly, I had heard an old song on the radio several times over the course of a few days that spoke of parent/child relationships. These factors made it impossible for me not to realize what a fool I had been by denying who I was and in turn eventually losing much of what I valued most of all. When I did ultimately come out, so much damage had already been done. Indeed, only my youngest daughter seems to have been able to recognize what had gone on with me all those years and look beyond it. Hopefully, some day the other two will as well.*
I cannot help but wonder how many other married gays and lesbians are repeating my mistake and unknowingly putting in jeopardy what they truly value - all the while believing that by staying in the closet they are protecting it. The stress and self-hate engendered by the closet is so destructive. It's hard to be a loving person or parent when one hates them self and refuses to be who the creator made them to be. Would that I had learned this lesson twenty years ago or more. In my case, the situation was made even worse by combining this flawed behavior with the long hours demanded by large law firms - which despite statements to the contrary care nothing about attorneys' family lives. It was/is a toxic mix.*
My message - as disjointed as it may come across - is that in retrospect only by being honest and being your true self can you have rewarding intimate relationships with life partners, children and other family members. Living life behind a glass wall and suffering from perpetual inner strife will not bring you happiness. In fact, it will probably deprive you of the happiness you might otherwise have found. I know that many closeted gays read this blog and I hope they will take this message to heart. Coming out can be/is terrifying and can lead to difficult situations in the process. However, remaining in the closet is, in my opinion, even more damaging.