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[coming out stories]

Patrick M. Jensen
Retired Civil Engineer, Madison, WI
October 11, 2004

I turned 65 this summer. Unlike most, I didn't come to terms with my gayness until my late 50s. I married and had three children, two boys and a girl. My wife passed away five years ago and it wasn't until an year later that I began to come to terms with my sexual orientation.

My wife was a wonderful woman. She was my best friend and companion and I loved her dearly. But something was missing. We both knew it but couldn't figure out what it was. My wife was hearing and we eventually came to the conclusion that maybe there was just a cultural difference between us. That must be what was preventing us from reaching a higher level of intimacy in our relationship. Or so we convinced ourselves.

I know now that that was not what it was. Denial is a powerful thing. My mind worked so hard to oppress the attraction I felt towards other men.

I grew up very religious and the thought of me being gay was something that I just couldn't fathom. But then I met him. A beautiful hearing man by the name of Carl who swept me off my feet! While I had loved my wife, my love for her had been more like the love one feels for a best friend. She will always have a special place in my heart. But she and I both knew that we were not soul mates.

It wasn't until Carl that I learned what "being in love" meant. I had always thought such a thing was just plain foolishness. How wrong I was! And how glad I am to finally be in touch with this part of myself. To be free to be me. To experience all these wonderful feelings that I never knew could exist!

One of the hardest things was coming out to my children. We've always been a close family and I worried very much how they would take the news. It took me over a year to gather the courage to come out to them. To my surprise, they took it better than I could have imagined. When I told them, we all cried. They understood that coming to terms with my gayness had been a very painful process for me. They told me they would always love me. My eyes fill with tears every time I remember that afternoon. We are closer than ever as a family today.

While I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I come out when I were younger, I don't regret the choices I've made. I believe everything happens for a reason. I'm grateful for all that I have - especially for the courage to finally be me.

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