This was a great post! You’re from my home state. I grew up in the Midlands and I am fully aware of everything you described. I had an aunt that was bisexual and I saw how my family treated them to include her own mother (my grandmother) reacted to her switching up of partners, marriages in between, having children, etc. My maternal and paternal families were so religious and judgemental I was knew it was something I never wanted to experience. I chose to live a hetero life, which was a life of lies, misery, stress, and unhappiness.
I’ve never felt free than I am today after finally living “my” truth. Free from anyone else’s god, criticisms, and advice. I’ve tried every prescription they’ve offered, and still went to sleep every single night alone. Now that I live me truth (albeit it in the closet), I am much happier. I have a totally different perspective about being “in the closet” for my own life. I think of it like my debit card number, the type of deodorant one wears, the number of times a person has sex, what I had for lunch, the type of job I decide to apply for or take, or the type of sanitary napkins I need for my period. It’s none of anyone’s business. Some people need to share for validation. Some want/need to share for inclusion. I don’t feel the need to share intimate details of my life with anyone, to include my adult children. Especially since I’ve aged. My motto is don’t tell, there is nothing to ask about.
My partner and I do many things together. And there are many places we are welcomed. As far as telling friends, We came out to our female friends and they were more jealous and territorial than happy that we’re happy. It’s a buzz kill.
The closet is where peace is. The closet is where I’ll be staying. To each his her own.