‘The Gay-friendliest Writer in Television’ Comes Out in His 50s
by Neal Baer M.D.
I’m gay. There, I said it, and it only took five decades.
When I told my son Caleb, who’s in college, 10 months ago, he asked, “It took you this long to figure it out?”
“No,” I said. “It took me this long to say it.”
“Oh,” he replied. “Where do you want to go for dinner?”
I was relieved and thrilled by his open acceptance. And I think that reflects his generation, one that doesn’t define sexuality as good or bad but as something that just is. Of course, it’s still not easy for all young LGBTQ youth to come out, but it’s better now than it was when I was growing up in Denver, when I thought being gay meant a lifetime of sadness, something to be dreadfully fearful of. Our band teacher was gay, and I remember feeling sorry for him, thinking that his life could only be one of dire loneliness and pain.
Those dark messages I picked up from the culture, from my friends, and from the media made me hate myself for many years. They made me fear that if anyone found out who I really was, I’d be doomed; I wouldn’t have a family; I wouldn’t have a job; I wouldn’t have friends. When I finally came out, because of stories like the ones I’ve recounted just now, I was relieved. No, it was more than relief: It was an ineluctable freedom and joy. I can say to you that I’m glad I’m gay, that I love being gay. I love being who I am.
But a year ago I never would have imagined that I’d be saying those words.
For me, being gay means being honest and — I know the word is almost cliché today — being authentic. You see, when you’re in the closet, your life is based on shame and lies. You tell tales about yourself that kill you a little bit every day.
Now, telling tales has been my forte, too. Maybe being gay made me a storyteller because I fantasized so much about being straight from a very early age….