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coming out to a friend

I came out to another friend the other night.

He was one of the members of that 1986 trip to Europe who I thought I had told but actually hadn't. After that anniversary reunion we promised to have dinner just the two of us to catch up on a more personal level. He is a pediatrician who also works in the hospital emergency room to keep up his skills.

The last time we had met one on one was maybe 7 years ago after my divorce. He had his own prolonged breakup which involved litigation and culminated in his winning full custody of his three children and keeping the family home.

At that original dinner I convinced myself that I had come out to him but actually hadn't. So when I broached the subject of the straw that broke the camel's back in my marriage he pleaded ignorance.

It must be said that he sees trans, lesbian and gay teens in his practice which are despondent and some suicidal. Even today there are families where admitting such a thing is tantamount to grounds for banishment; at least in the mind of these young people. Nothing I said about myself remotely surprised him and he told me his respect and friendship would remain intact. I had hoped for such a response.

His children are ages 24, 20 and 18 and as mine also make their process towards adulthood we plan to make these meet ups more frequent.

One interesting question he posed over dinner stayed with me: do you feel that we as friends and family are sufficiently supportive such that you can feel comfortable being who you really are?

I must admit his question caught me completely off guard because my instincts have always been about shielding people from this almost as if I were a leper and that question went to the heart of the reality that many of us live.

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