I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Louisiana. If you know the Gulf Coast, you know that we are prone to hurricanes. Some have asked the question, “why are hurricanes always named after women?” Ha, ha, ha that’s so funny. Well I think the only answer is… have you ever heard of a Him-A-Cain? bah ha ha ha ha.
So what does gay and a hurricane have to do with each other? Well I’m certainly glad that you asked because to be honest with you, I think there’s a very huge correlation to “coming out.” Let me do my best to share my perspective.
Recently hurricane sandy did quite a bit of damage to the east coast. Or how about that little teeny inconspicuous Hurricane Katrina that just about obliterated New Orleans, Louisiana right off of the map. (I blame Bush… Hee Hee) There are a characteristics about a hurricane that I relate to on a super personal level. You see, hurricanes don’t just creep up on you like um… let’s say… A tornado or a blizzard or a tsunami. There are multiple signs and multiple characteristics of weather patterns that can help predict hurricanes, where they will take to land and the strength of the storm. Sometimes they are obvious sometimes not so obvious, nonetheless, you can still know that a hurricane is forming out over the water and heading towards land which gives you time to evacuate. There are typically 3 parts to a hurricane.
There is the front side of the hurricane, the eye of the hurricane and then there is the back side of the hurricane. In the front side of the hurricane the fierce winds circulate one direction, then the eye brings a bit if calm, but on the back side of a hurricane the wind circulates the opposite direction which makes this particularly dangerous because everything that the front side has loosened up, weakened and damaged, the back side has a tendency to throw it all around scatter and actually can be almost the worst part of a hurricane.
So now how this relates to me. There were always the signs, the insinuations the behaviors, and all the other things that point it to the fact that I was likely gay. There were the whispers and the rumblings behind my back and some to my face. There were the gay jokes that were said in front of me likely just to see what my response would be and ashamedly I went along with much of it. I didn’t want anyone to find me out.
I knew at a very young age that I was gay… even before I knew what gay meant. The older I got, the more I knew the signs. I knew the symptoms… I saw it coming. The hurricane was coming but I had no idea it would be a category 5. I did what most people do when they know a hurricane is coming. They board up the windows, they secure the valuables and they protect themselves from things on the outside blowing around that can harm or hurt them on the inside. Most simply just leave for higher ground where it will be safe.
Even though you feel safer leaving your home to be physically safe from the effects of the hurricane, you become tense, agitated and worried about everything that you had to leave behind. Those things that you could never replace if they were gone when you got back. I believe that at a young age that I left my “home” (my authentic self) to find safety from the storm. This is why I believe that some insist that I have “changed.” I didn’t change, I just embraced the real me. I would dare say that not one of you can ever say that you know or knew me, my character or my intentions (good or bad). I simply never let that happen. I kept you all at a safe distance. The person who knows me the best is my former wife and ashamedly I protected myself from her as well. I hid behind laughter at times and anger and fear at other times. Some of you have experienced all three. You gotta admit… the funny stuff is pretty funny. Unfortunately this is typically what happens when one has left their “home” for safety. They become, testy, angry, aggravated and will even lash out through frustration. They want someone to blame… someone to be responsible. Don’t take it personal… It’s not about you.
Now for the first part of the hurricane. They winds begin whipping the water begins rising and all these forces of outside elements are beginning to beat up against me. The worst part of it’s probably late junior high through high school and then college. As I turned 40, it simply became unbearable. I had all the windows boarded up the valuables protected, the things I didn’t want the outside elements to harm, I kept away from people. That included my feelings, my emotions, and my secrets. I trusted no one. I did not have that proverbial “best friend.” I kept the outside strong, I kept the outside hard and I kept the outside very shielded. I simply could not risk anyone finding out the truth. I could go on and on about the first part of the hurricane, most of it I’ve already said in previous posts, so let’s go on to what I consider the second part or what we know as the eye of the storm.
In January of 2012 I could no longer take the fierce winds and the rising water. I was just about to drown and by drown, I mean drown… dead… suicide… self-harm. Call it what you like. I decided that I would either “come out” or “check out.” I had run out of options. I confirmed to my now former wife, that I in fact was a gay man as she had long suspected. I cried, she cried and we held each other incredibly tight. She had seen the torment that I was going through and I was beginning to torment her. Because our love for each other was so deep and strong, we did not want to see each other hurt any longer. After some tough discussions, we concluded that we should no longer be married. I simply wanted to die for the destruction that I was causing for her and my daughters.
I thought that the eye of my storm was the worst part but let’s not forget about the back side of the hurricane that is coming. I wasn’t quite ready for this. Just as in a real hurricane, the eye of the storm brings some calm for a short time. I felt relieved, alive and safe for the first time in my life. I was being fully honest, fully present and fully me. It did not come without some fear and trembling, but for once I was experiencing happiness, joy and love. Love for myself, love for my God and love toward others. My 9-year-old even told me how proud that she was of me and how kind and loving that I had become. I became intentionally vulnerable, even at the risk of many people insisting that I was “airing my dirty laundry,” or “bringing shame to my family.” I understand that all truth does NOT have to be spoken, but in the same manner, revealing the truth and living your truth, sets you free. I became more connected to my former wife, my children and my God. I was enjoying the calm. It was refreshing.
I wish it could have ended there, but it didn’t. The back side of the hurricane was brewing. I needed to tell my family and friends. I did not want rumors to begin and gossip to explode. I did not want to bring shame to my sweet wife and daughters. …and the winds blew and the waters rose… The rumors began and the gossip exploded. A false accounting of my life events were posted on Facebook by an angry sibling because they were upset about all the “attention” that I and my wife were getting. …and of course they offered to tell the “Whole truth” if you simply contacted them directly. It wasn’t long before I was an orphan without parents and siblings. So not only did I lose my in-laws that I love to the divorce, I lost my siblings and parents as well. I told you that hurricanes can cause crazy serious damage.
I am all the more thankful that the ONLY PERSON (my former wife) who has a right to be pissed off and angry is the one person who has loved me unconditionally. She will forever be my best friend. Something I have longed for my whole life. At this writing, we are both sitting on the couch after a nice family dinner watching TV together.
Rocks were thrown and emails abounded and people spoke with authority about something that was not theirs to speak of. Trusted family members and friends hurt me so deeply that those relationships will never be restored, nor do I wish for them to be. Some of you stayed on the ship and weathered the storm with us and some of you took the first rescue boat to shore because you didn’t want to deal with “all the drama.” I heard the rumors, I saw the stares, I recognized when I was deleted from your Facebook friends list and I recognize that I didn’t get a Christmas card from you this year…all of the passive-aggressive things did not go unnoticed. The back side of the storm also consisted of looking back through my addresses and Christmas card list, the holiday party list and realizing so many have disappeared. That sucks to be honest. I usually have quite a few Christmas cards by this time. Not this year. I think I counted less than 5. Two of which are from people who are likely unaware of the events of the past year. This is all part of the back side of the hurricane. Lots of damage and broken stuff. Lots of stuff that just go unaccounted for.
Hurricanes cause a lot of changes. The lay of the land changes, the scenery changes, the shore line and boundaries change, families and friends change. Some relocate permanently and others temporarily while they rebuild. Nonetheless the change is powerful and painful. It is painful for me and it has been painful for others too. I never thought in a million years that being honest would cost me so much, but I am NOT sorry that I chose to be honest and authentic. I am still amazed at the people who have abandoned me and somehow believe that their lives are close to perfect and better than mine. I have heard it said that I chose this “lifestyle” and that I am harming my children and how sad it will be for my kids to grow up in a “broken” home. Blah Blah Blah… that kind of crap makes me sick and I will continue to ignore those who say it and those who believe those that say it. If you cannot get along with people because they share a different belief system than you, then you have so much more than a broken home.
But let’s not forget the fourth part of the hurricane which is the clean up, the rebuilding, the restoration and the healing. I have said it before and I will say it again for every one person who has been unkind to me and rejected me, there have been 10 others who stepped up to the plate and have helped me heal, restore, and repair. However that does not wipe away the emotion the pain and the fear of going through the hurricane all together. I am sick at the loss of so many. My heart is at times in a million pieces. I am sad for those who claimed friendship and love for me yet abandoned me when I needed them most. This ROCKED my world. It ROCKED my faith. It ROCKED my belief system. It ROCKED my family. It ROCKED my future. Trust me… I know how you felt. Unfortunately many of those are admitted born-again Christians. People of the Bible. A sad, sorry example of the teachings of Christ that you claim to adhere to. I have chosen to shield my children from this “form” of religion. There is no US and THEM only God’s beloved.
So as this holiday season is in full swing right now. I recognize it is a time when families come together to celebrate. I have different people to celebrate with this year. My landscape has changed dramatically, my boundaries have been reestablished and I find myself still on the back side of that Hurricane. Partially rebuilding, partially restoring, partially healing, but honestly still finding myself in the back side of a hurricane is a tough place to be. Everything that was loosened in the front part is being thrown in tossed about in all different directions. Some things and people are just lost forever. Never to be found.
So just as when you lose loved ones or friends through death and dying, you never forget them, you never forget those moments that you shared with them, you never forget the joy, the fun times, bad times or any time that you shared with them. But deep in your heart, you know that physically being with them is something you will never experience again. A part of you dies with them. You can keep all of their belongings as they have left them, but there comes a time when you need to put those things away and move forward. So that is where I am today. I am putting those things away of those that have died and I am moving forward in happiness and health. I will be “modifying” my friends list on Facebook as well. If you find yourself removed from my page, it is because I do not feel your support or care for me. You may however follow my blog if you wish. I will not allow people to “peek in” on my life only to “see whats going on with the gay weirdo.” It’s a friends list not a “stalker” list. Its like driving around your neighborhood at night and parking in front of the neighbor’s house so that you can catch a glimpse of something going on in “those people’s” lives. That is just altogether too spooky for me. I won’t say, “don’t take it personal” because it is personal. I will just say that If you don’t love me and SUPPORT me (I didn’t say agree with me), then we will respectfully part ways. I am ready for the hurricane to be over and I’m rebuilding.
I will hold an open place for you to re-acquaint with the ORIGINAL, AUTHENTIC, ONE-OF-A-KIND Chet Lloyd DeRouen if you should choose.
I end this post with a quote from one of my FAVORITE people. A lady that I wish I could meet personally and just have 30 minutes of her words of wisdom. Iyanla Vanzant… If you read this, please grant me just one moment to hug your neck.
Have the courage to be exactly who you are without apology. Admit your mistakes without beating yourself up. Release all shame! Release all guilt! You cannot live if you are hiding behind what was. Focus on what is, right now, and that is you! – Iyanla Vanzant