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December 8th, 2023

Last (ish) Episode

I’ve uploaded the last(ish) episode of A Coming Out Story to its pages here. It wasn’t the last episode that I’d planned but it was always intended to be a critical turning point in the story and it works as an ending. 

I choose the subtitle of this cartoon story, The first person you come out to is yourself, to make it plain that this isn’t a story about coming out to family and friends. It’s about when you finally face up to it. That moment can be excruciatingly painful, and was mostly that for lots of us of my generation. But I got lucky in one critical way: I came out to myself by way of realizing I was in love. Probably that saved my life.

I began this story almost two decades ago. I didn’t expect it to take so long when I began the work, but I have no professional art training and everything I do at the drawing board is a struggle. Also, about a third of the way into it I was able to reconnect with “TK” after about thirty years of wondering what had happened to him, and that very seriously upended my feelings about the story I was telling. I began it as a way of trying to understand what had happened to me back in high school, and how that led to the adult I eventually became. Then after the heart attack a few years ago I began to seriously worry I might not ever finish it the way I wanted it finished. Then I turned 70 and felt my energy levels beginning to plummet. So I skipped ahead (again) to what I’d always intended to be a climatic point in the story, and now that I’ve uploaded what can be seen as the last episode, I can feel a bit more comfortable that, whatever happens to me age and health-wise, at least there is an end to my story. My readers won’t be left hanging. Somewhat. I know there is still the question of What Happened Next? I’ll get to that in the epilogue, but what I write below probably tells how it went.

I said at the very beginning that the story I was telling was one-third what happened to me, one-third artistic license, and one-third cartoon fantasy. This last (ish) episode is mostly what really happened, but with artistic license on the exact location. I didn’t say it to my mirror reflection in the dresser in my bedroom, but in the mirror in the bathroom.

What happened was, bearing in mind I had just come out to myself but the object of my affections hadn’t yet moved away so I wasn’t just then in the throws of grief. I tuned into a radio program on the subject of homosexuality. I wish I’d taken notes about what it was and who was being interviewed. But some alleged expert in the field was dispensing all the usual bullshit I’d already dismissed because I was in love and it was all so wonderful. But being the geek child I was I kept digging for information.

So I tuned into this program, and somewhere during the interview the expert was asked some question, I don’t remember what. But in reply he said (I still remember this part clearly) that “the worst thing a man could admit to is being a homosexual.”

And at that moment I could feel the closet trying to grab onto me and drag me in. I’d done enough research by then to see pretty clearly what the closet did to people and I swore I wouldn’t let that happen to me. But at the same time, in 1972, I also knew I couldn’t just be out with it without losing most of my friends, possibly getting kicked out of the house, and possibly getting my head bashed in.

But one thing I could do was acknowledge my own personal truth and deal with it as honorably and as best as I could given the world I lived in. So what you see in the episode is what I really did and said…apart from the location. I knew if I could do that then I could, somehow, navigate the rest.

And I was in love. It put things into perspective.

I know others had a very Very rough time of it. I was lucky that it hit me just that way, just at that point in my life. Yeah…in retrospect things could have been lots better, but they could also have been lots worse. I could have crushed on an abusive manipulative lout and ended up actually killing myself instead of just seriously considering it when “TK” and family suddenly left the country. He was actually a very decent person, and in a better world I could have taken him home to mom, and said “This is my boyfriend” and she’d have approved and made a place at the table for him. But neither one of us lived in that world and I reckon he had his own family issues to contend with. I suppose all that is grist for the epilogue when I get to it. The story of that one time I called his house because we’d agreed to go to Great Falls with our cameras is one that I can’t decide where to put just now.

Putting this episode up allows me to feel comfortable that the story of my coming out to myself is “complete” and I don’t have to worry about how much time I have left to finish it. There’s a bunch more I can add to it to the degree I have time to do that. But I can rest a bit easier now. My story has it’s ending. I actually scripted this episode almost two decades ago and it’s exactly as I wrote it back then. I’ll add an epilogue and then fill in some more of the story as time and energy permit.

There is lots more I had scripted, and I don’t intend to just scrap all that because I still think a lot of it is good material and worth having in the story. Especially where Left Brain confronts the gym teacher who taught that horrible sex-ed class, which is where I was leading things after episode 37 before I got really badly sick and decided I needed to put this “last” one up. So even though I’ve posted a “last” episode, don’t go away thinking there is no more. There’s lots more and I intend to keep on filling in the space between that first episode and this one. Also, there is an important epilogue I need to add after the “final” one.

So thank all of you who have stuck with me on this over the years. I deeply appreciate your repeat views. You helped give me the energy to keep on with it.

And…stay tuned…


One Response to “Last (ish) Episode”

  1. Lauretta Nagel Says:

    “And at that moment I could feel the closet trying to grab onto me and drag me in. ”
    Your description of the closet trying to pull you back in reminds me of Orpheus and Euridice, trying to escape the underworld.

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