A Coming Out Party In Boston

6 Jan

This story was passed to us this morning.  I thought I would share it in it’s entirety. It’s a touching personal account and a realization of a responsibility to come out.

Welcome to my coming-out party

By Steve Buckley

A candid admission: There was a time when I hated it when my mother
would call with an urgent request that I drop everything to take her
shopping.

These trips often involved the pursuit of trivial items — shoes, a
table lamp, frozen strawberries. Or scatter rugs: In any given year,
my mother would acquire enough scatter rugs to cover every inch of the
playing field at Fenway Park [map], including the bullpens.

I, on the other hand, had much more important things to do — such as
go on the radio to share my concerns about the depth of the Patriots
[team stats]’ special teams, or take Dan Duquette to task over his
stated belief that Jose Offerman was going to replace Mo Vaughn’s
on-base capabilities.

But my mother’s calls were not really about shopping, of course, but
about enjoying life — getting out of the house, hearing news about
what’s going on with the family, maybe even quizzing me about my job,
though she was no sports fan at all and didn’t know Johnny Damon from
Johnny McKenzie.

And the truth of the matter is that, as my mother aged, even as she
was being treated for cancer, she had become wonderfully anecdotal,
using her sharp mind to share stories about her younger days that
might otherwise have been lost to the passage of time were it not for
these midweek Scatter Rug Adventures.

Just over seven years ago, before Thanksgiving, we were getting into
the car outside of a CVS when my mother said, “I think you should go
ahead and do that story you’ve been talking about.”

“Really?”

“Yes,” she said. “Just go ahead and do it. And then we’ll have a party.”

She was talking about the story in which I would say that I am gay.

(I guess I’ve kind of buried the lead here, which, I admit, has been a
common complaint about my writing over the years. But what the heck:
The headline has already given away the story, and, anyway, what
happened that day seven years ago is central to why I am writing
today.)

My mother and I had already had the gay talk, during which she had
told me that nothing had changed, that she loved me, asked if I was
seeing anybody, and so on. What she didn’t like was the idea of me
coming out publicly; she was of the opinion that it was really
nobody’s business, and she worried that prejudice might disrupt my
career.

But like an NFL referee, she had overturned the original call. “Do
it,” she said. I thanked her. She smiled. And then I made the biggest
mistake of my life: With a vacation lined up for the first week of
December, I told her I’d get to it when I returned to Boston — just
before Christmas.

The vacation came and went. The day after I returned to Boston, I
received a call from the Lifeline people telling me my mother was
being rushed to Mount Auburn Hospital, where she had undergone
radiation therapy during the summer. The family gathered at her side.
The next morning, she suffered a heart attack. She died a few days
later.

There was a funeral at Doherty’s, and then a very soulful, reflective
Christmas. And then a Super Bowl, and then spring training. The story
didn’t get done. Whenever I revisited the idea of coming out, I’d
foolishly dwell on how it was to have been a big family event, my
mother pulling everyone together. When that was lost, I guess I lost
my way.

Now I’m not going to suggest that these past seven years have been
filled with sadness and dread, for the reality is that I’m a pretty
happy guy — great family, great friends and a job I truly enjoy, even
if, OK, I probably talk too much about the ’67 Red Sox [team stats],
the “Godfather” movies (“I” and “II,” but never “III”) and postseason
pitching rotations.

But I’ve put this off long enough. I haven’t been fair to my family,
my friends or my co-workers. And I certainly haven’t been fair to
myself: For too many years I’ve been on the sidelines of Boston’s gay
community but not in the game — figuratively and literally, as I feel
I would have had a pretty good career in the (gay) Beantown Softball
League.

Over the past couple of months I have discussed the coming-out process
with my family and a few friends, and have had sit-downs with Herald
editor-in-chief Joe Sciacca and sports editor Hank Hyrniewicz, as well
as with WEEI’s Glenn Ordway. They’ve been great, as have my friends
and family.

But during this same period, I have read sobering stories about people
who came undone, killing themselves after being outed. These tragic
events helped guide me to the belief that if more people are able to
be honest about who they are, ultimately fewer people will feel such
devastating pressure.

It’s my hope that from now on I’ll be more involved. I’m not really
sure what I mean by being “involved,” but this is a start: I’m gay.

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