Fully Reclaiming My Past

I recently attended an invitational workshop for “Formerlies,” led by Tim Jackins and assisted by “Jeanne D’Arc.” Formerlies are folks who have at one time claimed the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Queer identity and who now either claim a heterosexual identity or are looking beyond identity.

I claimed a Gay identity in my early twenties. I was struggling with my sexism and male domination patterns and did not want to act them out in a close relationship with a woman. I also wanted to build closer relationships and be less isolated. It seemed sensible to claim a Gay identity under those circumstances, and I did. I became a Gay activist, attended “fairie” gatherings (meetings of pro-feminist Gay men), and built a committed partnership (including sex) with another Gay man.

When I joined RC, I identified as a Gay man and eagerly attended Gay support groups and workshops. I maintained a Gay identity for about twenty months. I had the same challenges (inhibitions and fears) with closeness and sex with a man that I’d previously had with women. While a Gay man, I began building a friendship with a woman whom I eventually married. She was the first woman I had ever met who I thought could handle my sexism and male domination patterns.

I have now been in RC for over thirty years. I have moved and changed jobs multiple times. People I meet see me as a heterosexual married man (and I am). It’s easy for me to deny my past and forget that I ever identified as a Gay man. At the workshop I took the direction that I refuse to let my past be erased, that erasing people’s pasts is oppression and that I would not stand for it. I have already started to act on the implications of this direction, for example, by telling some RCers that I was at the Formerlies workshop (I could easily have never mentioned it) and by writing this posting. Part of Gay oppression is being made to hide. And to not fully claim and take pride in everything in my past is to internalize and collude with that oppression.

Those twenty months were a wonderful part of my life. I do not regret the decisions I made then (even though I now better understand how my distresses interfered with my thinking). Being a Gay man at that time was the smartest thing I could figure out to do to have the life that I wanted. I’m proud that I had the courage to act on my best thinking—and I’m proud to say now that I am a Formerly.


1 “Jeanne D’Arc” is the International Liberation Reference Person for Lesbians and Gay Men.
2 “Would not stand for it” means would not tolerate it.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00