Hiding and Coming Out

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A Guest Post by Kanienke

Meet my good friend Ganien. (He's beary thoughtful.)

Meet my good friend Ganien (Kanienke). He is beary thoughtful, and is probably the person with whom I share the most secrets.

Kanienke is, to paraphrase Shrek, sort of like an onion.  To say he has layers is an understatement; just don’t expect those layers to have anything to do with clothing.


We have been friends for a long time.  We met via blogging, and though he has probably written more words on my blog than on his own in recent months, he does still occasionally share his thoughts in that space.  He writes about love and sex and relationships, and is one of the most compassionate communicators I have ever encountered.  Clicking the picture above will link you to his blog.  Happy reading!

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Every day when I get home, the first thing I always do is to peel off my clothes.  I don’t really like clothes because they are hot and confining.  They feel all tangled up on my body and the more I think about them, the more enclosed and contained they make me feel.  To be liberated from my clothes is a wonderful feeling.  I can sense my body being floated up by the lightness of the air.  I can’t sleep in clothes because I wake up with them twisted around me and I wake up gasping for air because I can’t breathe.

I have always wondered why clothes are needed.  Most of the time it’s too hot to wear them anyway.  I know that in the winter it is easier to insulate yourself against the cold than to waste energy warming up your surroundings; and I do find it comforting to wrap myself in warm clothes on a cold day.  I also like wearing clothes when I need to protect my skin; like, when I learned that cooking bacon naked is simply a bad idea.  Apart from protection and warmth, I think the only reason we have clothing is because it is very important for us to hide ourselves from others.

That’s how all the hiding begins: you make one secret and then it spawns off a lot more secrets.  Before long it seems like you spend most of your life hiding things.  And my general impression of polite society is that everything about me that deviates from the norm, must remain carefully hidden.

When I was still a teenager, growing up in a puritanical household where no nudity was allowed, I started coming out as a nudist.  I started sleeping in the nude and my parents would close my bedroom door to preserve my dignity (because I am naturally covering-resistant, those things fly right off me).  I got lectured by my parents morning after morning about it and I did it anyway.  When I went away to college I visited my first nudist resort and I was hooked. I became a member.  I joined a nude volleyball team, and spent as much time on weekends out skinny-dipping in the pool and talking with MY people as I could. I found out that nudists are generally middle-aged and really friendly, genuinely open people.  I love to be around them.  I shared the story with my friends and people were supportive.  My girlfriend and several other female friends asked me to bring them next time.  So one day I brought three hot, sexy college girls to the nudist resort and for years after that, the other visitors treated me like I was Hugh Hefner.  So that was my first big coming-out experience and I must say it was a good one.

I have many, many unconventional layers of rebellion besides that one.  Nudism was merely the first card to fall.  And it gave me the confidence to be honest to the people I was dating about the next big secret:  I am not monogamous.

I don’t understand monogamy and it doesn’t make any sense to me.  I was raised to believe that love is always a good thing, that we should share all that we have, that the world is an endless fountain of goodness for those that help each other.  I took it a little too seriously I guess.  I fall in love fast and hard, and I fall in love with a lot of people.  I am good at sharing.  When my first lover shared with me that she had a handful of other lovers besides me, I found that I was okay with sharing.  She really did need the extra attention, more than I could give.  It was okay.  And the world actually is a fountain of goodness for those who help each other.  Sexually I helped by giving my best female friends orgasms when they didn’t want to do it themselves.  Or I gave kisses and cuddles. I wasn’t even trying to be a shameless slut, these were just relationships that fell into my lap and every one was a special, extraordinary gift to me.  Most of these relationships overlapped and were concurrent, and I worked hard to be honest about them.

The rest of the cards were a lot harder to play.  When I was in college I tried to reveal my other secrets to good friends who seemed to be a lot like me.  I love when someone trusts me enough to reveal their true self to me, I embrace it and almost all of the time, I don’t judge.  I draw the line at desires that do harm to other people or don’t give them a choice in the matter.  Very few people reciprocated that sort of open-mindedness with me, though. When I tried to reveal secrets to good friends, I was met with disgust, prejudice, jealousy, loathing, and ridicule. I started to think, unlike other people, my secrets must be really BAD.

I kept myself in hiding most of the time after that.  Feeling like you’re hiding yourself from the people you love is terrible.  I couldn’t shake the awful feeling that no one really knew me, or wanted to.  Not my family, or my spouse, or my circle of friends.

So then, I remember a decade or more ago when I went to see a simple Disney movie in the theater, and suddenly I heard a song that sort of broke me.  I didn’t expect to hear it in light, kid-friendly fare.  The song was “I’m Still Here” by John Rzeznik.  The first lines dropped a bomb on me.

I am a question to the world
Not an answer to be heard
Or a moment that’s held in your arms

Wow.  John spoke the truth to me:  that people are looking for solutions, someone to fit the hole in their lives.  They know the shape of the hole, they just don’t know which person who goes in it.  The reason I met with such resistance when coming out to people was that my secrets were not compatible with what those people needed me to be.  They were only looking for pieces of me, not for the whole me.  They felt like they could edit me, or shave off the bits they didn’t like, and when I was overattached to those qualities, I became a problem.  I don’t want to be tested and sorted and fixed.  I just want to be KNOWN.  So I related to the defiance in some of the next lines of the song:

You don’t know me
And I’ll never be what you want me to be

John Rzeznik’s song brought me healing and I needed it.  Somehow his words made it okay for me to resist being assimilated and become the person I needed to be.  I started to gather the strength to come out a little at a time to people who were safe, people who I already knew were like me.

The next part of me to come out has been the most troublesome, partly because it is the hardest for me to define.  As is probably true of any person’s gender or sexuality, we all fall somewhere on a spectrum and then the clarity of labels becomes a problem.  I guess I knew when I was a teenager that I was bisexual.  I was sexually attracted to men and women, so the label should fit me nicely; but the truth is that it does not. I am sexually attracted to all beautiful souls and their gender labels do not influence me in my attraction to them.  I happen to have had sexual relationships with women, with men, with transmen, and one person identifying as genderqueer, not because I have a bucket list somewhere but because we eventually felt comfortable pleasuring each other sexually.  My genderqueer lover, Leigh, labeled me long ago as pansexual and I keep coming back to that label because perhaps it is the most fitting.

Labels are hard!  I am non-monogamous but that label makes me sound like a slut (another tricky label), and so strictly from a language etymology I like the word ‘polyamory’ because it means ‘many loves’ and in my heart that is really what it is:  I celebrate there being more than one love in my life.  But then I’ve met and even been in relationships with some – quote – “polyamorous” people and to a disturbing degree, I call what they do ‘nonmonogamous fucking’ because it doesn’t resemble amor very much at all.  My amazing friend Mrs. Fever likes to call it ‘polyfuckery’ and THAT is the finest point I’ve seen put on it.

I’ve found that the coming-out rubber meets the road when you actually come out to people who live outside of whichever label you prefer.  So, in a small number of my straight friendships and emerging straight romantic relationships, I have been honest and forthcoming about my bisexuality, with overwhelmingly disastrous consequences. Fourteen out of fifteen women ended our relationship on the spot.  The fifteenth, who is now my wife, said my sexual orientation was irrelevant because she didn’t want me fucking a man again.  I told three very close platonic straight female friends, two of whom became too busy too ever see me again after that and one who doesn’t exactly know what to think.  I told one close platonic male friend, who pretends the revelation never happened and will no longer go out with me one-on-one.  I have never told anyone in my family, even my lesbian cousin, who would understand.

Coming out is not easy unless I am celebrating who I am with people who are like me, and they understand me already because they have lived the experience.

But I have also learned that you can’t expect people who share your experience to share your experience.  They don’t know all of you, so coming out to them is sort of empty.  I am now very selective about who I tell what to.  I have to be careful about “coming out” about my hidden qualities because it really isn’t most people’s business.  In your zeal to come out you shouldn’t make the mistake of telling everybody, just the ones who matter and have some interest in knowing.  I’ve come out to my spouse with most of my secrets, and mostly her reaction was a long, uncomfortable silence and a change of subject.  When we were dating she worked hard to try and experience some of those things with me, which I admire, but after the wedding those topics are rarely acknowledged or discussed, certainly never celebrated or allowed to exist.  My spouse sees me in the way she needs me to be rather than as the person I am.

I meet kindred spirits now and then, who accept some of my hidden secrets but not others.  It is nice to share with them and discuss, because through them I feel at least partially understood.  I still don’t reveal everything to any one person.  That takes time and relationship, but I still fantasize about knowing someone who would understand and embrace all there is of me.

0 thoughts on “Hiding and Coming Out

  1. Mrs Fever Post author

    So many layers, and so similar to mine. Thank you for “peeling” here, luv. I am honored to have found a kindred spirit in you, who has revealed so much of himself to me. <3

    1. kanienke

      Thank you! Sorry for replying to this post so late, I realize I wasn’t getting notifications about the comments… because it isn’t on my blog!!!!

  2. Jamie Ray

    I have similar labeling issues on the trans side, so I just go with trans. I’m gender non-conforming (but I am a one-person dog).

    There is still so much judgement about bisexuality and non-monogamy, probably because it can’t be either heteronormative or homonormative. It is as if people believe that if you are not monogamous then you have no limits and are potentially a predator.

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      You know… This observation has gotten me thinking, and its “A-ha!” factor has firmly lodged itself in the “mull this over” portion of my brain. (Which is slightly left of the synapses firing off “craving Dr Pepper” signals and north of the limbic center.) The idea that If you are not X, you must be Y, and if you are XY you must behave like Z, and if you don’t conform to those limitations, you must not have ANY limits and are therefore a predator and DANGEROUS.

      This binary-only schema is EVERYWHERE, and non-binary alternatives are strictly policed, often with a subset of binary options. M or F. In between? Non-conforming? Well then, you must be M-to-F or F-to-M. Circle or square. No triangles or octagons allowed.

      Heterosexual or Homosexual.
      Republican or Democrat.
      Married (and monogamous) or Single (and playing the field).

      Bisexual? Oh dear. Well, if you do it *this* way, it’s okay… Just stay far away from me and my binary-only options.

      Independent? What’s THAT?

      Polyamorous? So you cheat, then. Hmmm…

      And I wonder if you experience something similar to this in the trans community: Poly people, who typically have good intentions (with which the road to hell is paved) often have “rules” (for lack of a better word) about How To Do Poly. If you deviate from those “acceptable” behaviors (which I do ~ I have no desire to play at Happy Families), it is frowned upon by ‘the community’.

      Just curious.


      So there are two things: (1) When making primary non-binary choices, we are often pigeon-holed into making secondary and tertiary binary choices because the “you must either be X or Y” factor permeates every layer of our existence; and (2) NOT choosing between X and Y makes you “dangerous” in the eyes of others because the assumption is that if you do not conform to imposed limitations, you must not understand the *concept* of limits and are therefore a threat.

      And you know, the irony is that the people I know who are NOT binary in their choices are generally the people who have done the most work to understand themselves, and therefore have a firm grasp of their limits.

          1. wildoats1962

            It’s been years since I’ve had any Dr Pepper, don’t really remember the taste. I didn’t use to like licorice. I still don’t for the black candy or jelly bean variety. But I do like Ouzo, so it might be time to try a taste.

      1. Jamie Ray

        Exactly. You are not permitted to have an authentic sexuality (or gender identity in my case) if it doesn’t mesh with the small handful of predetermined labels set out for you. And if you reject them, you are a special snowflake, confused, going through a phase, or untrustworthy.

        1. Mrs Fever Post author

          Well then: I am a confused snowflake who has been going through a life-long untrustworthy phase, what with my insistence that I am *actually* a cross between a refreshing raindrop and a ray of sunshine. 😛

        2. kanienke

          Again, what irritates me about this particular habit of human beings is that it isn’t necessary to *judge* everything. When you stop judging, you start becoming very curious. And I want to know all about where people fall in the range. With gender identity, I really don’t have many straight male friends, I mostly find close connections with women. My past lovers have said I was full of “YIN” or commented that I was more like a girlfriend than a boyfriend. I like to talk and tell stories, and ask questions. I don’t like to waste time watching sports or doing brutal violent things. I am loving, and nurturing, cuddly and I always want to know where the relationship is at. People find it curious but don’t want to offend me.

          But of course, I am over the moon when someone points out a part of me they consider feminine. What a gift it is not to be locked into one gender… or political party… or sexual orientation. It is so liberating to just be who I want to be. To see good qualities in women and to nurture those qualities in my self.

    2. kanienke

      It’s true, I get as much grief about being bisexual from my gay friends, as I do from my straight ones I’m out to. Though, I’m more likely to be out about being bi to the gay ones.

      Also I think it’s hard for people who are truly straight to empathize. Of course everyone likes to point at “my gay friend” and feel like they’re with the times for being tolerant, but that’s different from being able to listen to a friend’s homosexual misadventures and try and produce useful responses.

      As for the predator, yes, it is awkward to suddenly find out you might be on the menu when you thought you were otherwise perfectly safe.

  3. wildoats1962

    I have a lot of thoughts going on here. I would mostly agree the few differences I feel are more matters of preference. The thing I like best about living in Iowa is winter. I like my clothes. Yes, they do offer concealment, but that could also be viewed as privacy. They offer they opportunity for adornment, I have no ink. Mostly, and this reflects a weakness in me, they offer pockets. I keep mementos and souvenirs. I have a great deal of sentimental garbage. A great deal of that came from friends and relatives who found a kindred spirit in me. An example would be my favorite uncle’s buckeye. I don’t carry it much anymore, but it still has a proud spot on my dresser. People have seen it and asked about it. I tell them about it. They roll their eyes and realize why my house looks the way it does. I have two uncles that made hunting and fishing knives. Christmas decorations included the usual popcorn strings that would be unthreaded and given to the birds after the holidays, but a lot of other things were saved as reminders of who made them. A turkey breastbone dried, painted red, turned upside down, and used as a sleigh for Santa. One of my aunts made dolls from Ivory dishsoap bottles and sold them at flea markets. She also gave them as gifts to young female relatives. Ashtrays were made from things. Everything came from somebody. If they made it. You kept it. It was a piece of them. So much of that ends up hidden. Not out of secrecy though. You ask, I tell. I’m full of stories. I enjoy telling them. I know not everyone wants to listen. I respect their right to NOT get to know me.

    That doesn’t stop me from being me. People seem to love to judge. And they aren’t going to accept what they consider weird. That’s where tolerance comes in. Someone invites you to dinner, you accept, you sit down at the table, they start praying. You make note of it, but you probably don’t get up and leave. If you have strong feelings about religion you might want to talk about it after the prayer. If they point to a wall decoration that says “No Pantheists Allowed”, there is a problem. I have heard straight people complain about the “In your face” attitude of the nonstraight people. It’s only in your face if you disagree. Oh, you don’t like a gay pride parade. You don’t see a straight pride parade. Really? Watch tv and see how often you see straight people kiss. You think cheerleaders are gender neutral. There is hidden and there is secret. Do you close the door when you go to the bathroom? Probably. A test of intimacy is do you allow someone to use the mirror/sink while you use the toilet? Do you demand that they use the sink while you use the toilet? That is the absurdity of forcing the question into a binary situation, to use Mrs Fever’s term. It’s not a yes no situation. I pee therefore you must wash your hands at the same. You never are allowed to wash your hands while I pee.

    Mrs Fever said, And you know, the irony is that the people I know who are NOT binary in their choices are generally the people who have done the most work to understand themselves, and therefore have a firm grasp of their limits.

    So many people don’t think about things! It’s a false dichotomy! Oh dear, I had a deeply held view that was proven to be absolutely wrong, therefore my view of everything else in the universe MUST also be wrong. Therefore I MUST challenge and vanquish whoever proved me wrong.

    No. Mull it over for a while. Tweak your views of right and wrong by considering other factors. If that doesn’t work, tweak your nipples.

    You said.
    Wow. John spoke the truth to me: that people are looking for solutions, someone to fit the hole in their lives. They know the shape of the hole, they just don’t know which person who goes in it. The reason I met with such resistance when coming out to people was that my secrets were not compatible with what those people needed me to be. They were only looking for pieces of me, not for the whole me. They felt like they could edit me, or shave off the bits they didn’t like, and when I was overattached to those qualities, I became a problem. I don’t want to be tested and sorted and fixed. I just want to be KNOWN. So I related to the defiance in some of the next lines of the song:

    I hadn’t really thought about it in quite these terms. Yes, people look for the bits that fit. Absolutely agree. I don’t want to be tested sorted or fixed either. Do I want to be known? That part I’m not so sure on. I want to be accepted. I don’t want to be rejected. If I say something eccentric and they smile and think well that’s just Wild being Wild, I don’t have a problem with that. Some things I agree to disagree. If they feel that my view is so wrong that they have to hammer on it until I change, yes I have an enormous problem with that. And that is something I’ve had to deal with in real life too. I will pull back from people like that. I don’t try to change them either. If they are someone I simply can’t avoid we talk about the weather. But not about whether the weather is good or bad, merely that it is. Gritting one’s teeth that hard causes dental problems.

    There is a quote from Edward Teller that I like. “The secret I have kept the best is Quantum Mechanics. I have tried to explain it to all my students and it is still a secret.”

    1. kanienke

      Ha! LOL about the quote from Edward Teller. I feel exactly the same way about explaining myself to people.

      I find that my best friends are the ones who are quite different from me, and still we agree to disagree. You’re right, if people try and correct my view and won’t accept it, or worse they call it just plain wrong… then we have a problem. I would settle with being accepted, but I would much rather be embraced.

      You are so right about straight people complaining about the “in your face” attitude of the gay rights movement, and it makes me roll my eyes to see grown-ups whining like children. Real freedom is being able to kiss your lover when the mood strikes you, maybe out in public. As you say, straight people do it all the time, or hold hands, or otherwise show affection, but it’s only in your face if homosexuals do it. But somehow straight people feel like their freedom has been destroyed because they saw two men kissing on the street. I don’t get it, unless freedom means, “being able to completely avoid seeing anything I don’t agree with.”


      1. wildoats1962

        There are some people I disagree with where we have almost opposite views. We can still be friends if you respect my right to have opposite views. I didn’t realize how sheltered from hate I had been until I went in the Army. I was stationed in the deep south for awhile and I learned the differences between Neo-Nazis and Klansman, and haters in general. It was the order of the list of people they hate. Blacks, Jews, Catholics, Yankees, Queers or Jews, Queers, Blacks, Catholics, Yankees. And the groups are pretty adamant about that order. The other aspect to it that came as a total shock to me was that there are people who would like to see a Holocaust for each group. I had never seen that level of hatred before. I learned hate from them because I started to hate THEM. After being exposed to that I rarely left post and never left at night. On post I started dating black women just to see the glare from the others. That was really the only time I had an ethnic preference. I stay up north now. I have an interracial son, and I did my best to teach him that those types are still around. He’s almost 30 now and he gets it, but only because he also enlisted and went south. He seems tolerant of others with different preferences. He knows more about me and my wife than he’s comfortable knowing, but no one wants to realize that their parents actually ENJOYED sex.

        Teller had his good points and his bad points. He was definitely smart. And a news article came out recently that had a tenuous link. Dr Strangelove was a parody of him. In the movie the Russians develop a “Doomsday Device” that would go off automatically if anybody launched an attack. The Russian ambassador explains the device to the president, who asks Dr Strangelove if it’s possible. Dr S says it is, but the whole point of the device is lost IF YOU KEEP IT A SECRET! Dr Strangelove came out in 1963. Check the date on this article.


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