Saturday, August 3, 2013

San Francisco Diary: Out of the Closet and into San Francisco Bay

This is going to be one of my more personal posts. It will come almost directly from what I wrote in my journal Thursday night.

Mark and I were invited by some friends to join a group who were going sailing on Thursday afternoon in San Francisco Bay. Other than a turn about the Great Salt Lake on another friend's boat, this was the first time I had ever been sailing. And sailing in San Francisco Bay is nothing like sailing on the Great Salt Lake.

There were four couples on the boat plus two teenagers belonging to one of the couples. The common thread among the group was that each man on board (except me) had been long-time friends with Kurt, our Salt Lake friend with whom we will be going cycling today in the Marin County Century. This long-time relationship meant that each of the adults - except me - freely and easily interacted with and among each other.

I'm not complaining. Really I'm not. This isn't a sob story. It is a story of how that experience out on San Francisco Bay helped me to realize some things, some important things.

First thing: I am socially immature. I have struggled to describe and identify how I have felt so many times, and on Thursday afternoon, I think I hit upon it while I was with this group of people: I went over 25 years of my adult life without normal social interaction with people my own age (primarily because I was a member of the Mormon Church). 

I had recognized before that I didn't have any friends to speak of during those years - in fact since I graduated from university. But what I think I really recognized for the first time on Thursday afternoon - with force - is how that phenomenon stunted my growth and my social skills. The only adult social interactions I had during those years were with fellow LDS ward members and people with whom I worked. The fact is, I was in a sort of closet - a social closet.

Then, of course, there is the fact that I was in the gay closet all those years as well. So, really, when I came out, I came out not only from the gay closet, but also from the Mormonism thing and the social cave in which I had been living.

The point is ... I have struggled to relate to people my own age because I feel like, socially, I have been on a deserted island for almost 30 years. As a result, I feel almost juvenile around people who are quite a bit younger than me. I have not liked feeling this way - like I am younger than people 10-15 years my junior - but I hadn't been able to put my finger on it until Thursday afternoon out on San Francisco Bay. Again, I'm not whining. The point for me is this: Now that I have identified these feelings, I can address them, process them and move on. And that's a good thing.

The love of my life

I also had another powerful thought - or rather string of thoughts - that afternoon out on the water. During all those years in the closet, I was engaged in creation - in the creation of my children, both biologically and intellectually, as well as emotionally and spiritually. Although I made plenty of mistakes along the way, I acknowledged, out in that sailboat - for the first time really - the good I did with my children. I saw the good instead of all the bad that I had told, for many years, was there.

And ... I felt good about my sojourn here on this earth in this life. "Oh my God," I said to myself, "just look at my amazing children - each one a masterpiece, a work of art! And how privileged I was to be to participate in siring and raising them up. I am not prideful; I am humbled."

I love my children.

I had a few other significant thoughts out there on the water, but I'll save them for another post.


  1. Joseph. My social experience and the resulting awkwardness around people my own age and younger are akin to those you described and explained. Just reading your words was somehow cathartic for me. I will be very interested in your future posts on the subject. (Brad’s Mom and Dad are my age yet I feel so immature around them!)

  2. Thank you, Trey, for sharing your own experience. It's comforting to me to know that I'm not the only person who has experienced these sorts of feelings.