merging two worlds - advice wanted

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Joined in 2011
October 11, 2012, 23:54

Living between two worlds – how to merge…

Hi all,

Having lived a very "straight life" for many years, I am now at the stage of mixing with other lesbians. I am going to a coming out group as welll as a lesbian discussion group. I am beginning to form connections with other gay women.

As I make these new connections and begin to do new things I am beginning to feel a real disconnect bewteen "straight world" and "gay world". I feel a struggle with what feels like a loss of integrity as I deal with work colleagues, famly and friends. – ie those with whom I am not yet out. I feel like I lead this secret life – and I actually hate feeling that something like mixing with women (who happen to be lesbians) is something I can't yet talk openly about.

And so – my questions are around how others have dealt with this "living between two worlds"?

Is this sense of "double life" something that others have felt?

Have you struggled also with wanting to live authentically and with integrity yet not feeling quite safe about coming out?

How have you begun to merge the "two worlds"?

I'd love to hear what others think.



Joined in 2012
October 13, 2012, 06:52

Hey Sarab,

I wish I could help you, but I've been living openly with my sexuality since 8. Here's a resource you can share your story with and maybe get feed back on:

I think everyone here left for a backyard BQQ ; )

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
October 13, 2012, 10:02

Hi Sarab

You said:

As I make these new connections and begin to do new things I am beginning to feel a real disconnect between "straight world" and "gay world". I feel a struggle with an what feels like a loss of integrity as I deal with work colleagues, family and friends. – i.e. those with whom I am not yet out. I feel like I lead this secret life – and I actually hate feeling that something like mixing with women (who happen to be lesbians) is something I can't yet talk openly about.

And so – my questions are around how others have dealt with this "living between two worlds"?

Is this sense of "double life" something that others have felt?

Have you struggled also with wanting to live authentically and with integrity yet not feeling quite safe about coming out?

How have you begun to merge the "two worlds"?

I know what you mean about the "double life". I used to feel like this before I was out to those who were important to me or a major part of my life and it bothered me to keep that hidden. I wanted to be able to share about my partner at Christmas functions as other people did. It was stressful holding that information back but for a while I didn't feel safe to share. I had to give myself time to divulge the news to people one by one before I felt safe in groups. And the acceptance I received each time I came out gave me courage to keep coming out. And I started feeling better and better. And there were some I never came out to because I expected a negative response and we drifted apart for other reasons anyway.

Even now, I am not out to everyone in my life and every time I move jobs there is a question of if, how and how much I share with colleagues about my sexuality. However I have noticed that the question has become much less important now and doesn't plague me like it might have before. I started a new job recently and haven't talked about it there. So some of my colleagues from the previous work place know but I haven't divulged to the new ones. But then I haven't felt the need to do so and nor have there been many opportunities even if I wanted to. I think I would speak up at the current work place in the following circumstances, if I was becoming friends with someone, and if I felt the need to, perhaps to normalise being bi. Christmas time has been tricky in the past. Once when I was talking about a past female partner at a Christmas work function, one of my colleagues referred to her as male and it was in a group and I wasn't comfortable outing myself at that time. So I didn't correct what she said. But I felt terrible, like I had lied but then I was annoyed at the same time, thinking I had been put upon and should have the right to divulge this news in my own time and not have to make a forced personal announcement to a group, especially when I wasn't close to those in the group and didn't feel all that safe in that setting. So then I decided to come out to another colleague as we were driving home from the function. The response from her was positive (as I hoped it would be) and she said she could understand why I didn't want to blurt my personal business out in front of a group especially as I am a private person and this was a work event. It was a relief to have this out in the open and to receive her understanding, acceptance and support. From then on I spent time telling my closest colleagues one by one and even some others when opportunities arose. And much later when the person from the function was alone on another occasion, and we were talking about social things, I said to her that my previous partner was female. I had to say it 3 x because she was confused. I explained that I hadn't been comfortable outing myself previously before the group but wanted her to know the truth. She was OK with that but stunned, and most importantly, I felt better.

I think the order of coming out was important and helped me in being increasingly open and bringing my 2 worlds together. The first people I came out to were some close friends who I was pretty sure would be accepting and they were. This gave me courage to come out to my sister and another friend – both accepting. And then the big coming out was to my parents which was scary but went fine. I told my Mum who then told my Dad. And then over time, I have come out to colleagues.

Prior to coming out, I found it helped to gather lots of affirming supports around me. I knew I needed this to buffer the effects of any possible negative responses. In other words, I had to prepare for the worst and know I would be able to cope with that; to know that my world wasn't going to fall apart if I received a rejecting response. I think I knew that if there weren't enough accepting supports there, a rejecting response would take on enormous significance, and much more than it needed to. And when I felt supported and strong enough, it enabled me to come out to more and more people. This in turn made me feel more supported. And once I had the support of those that mattered most to me, like family, it didn't matter so much what others thought. I never came out to extended family but gave my immediate family permission to out me if they wanted to. I wasn't close with aunts and uncles in the way my parents have been and I still don't know if they have outed me or not. Maybe that's a cop out on my part but I felt I did my bit.

It's such an individual journey isn't it? I recall an acquaintance who, at a big family gathering, announced to her whole family, including, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents that she was gay and then invited anyone to come and talk to her if they had questions and she would be happy to answer them. I admire this and the fact that she and her family were open and able to relate well in this way. 🙂 I wouldn't have been able to do this with my family however but for this person she felt it was like ripping a bandaid off quickly rather than doing it bit by bit. I can see the advantage there. Writing letters to a number of people at the same time might be another way to deal with this in bulk.

I'm interested to know what others' experiences have been.


Ann Maree

Joined in 2011
October 13, 2012, 21:27

Thanks RQC and thanks Ann Maree.

Ann Maree – the sharing of your experiences is so helpful to me. Thank you. It's helpful to hear that your experience has been that "with time" the question around sexuality "hasn't plagued you" as much. I also found helpful what you have said about the "order of coming out" – I think this is beginning to be my experience – That is – I have come out to people who I pretty much have assumed would be affirming and accepting. This so far has proven to be the case and thus helps build a platform for continuing to come out to others. It's good to read your story of gathering affirming supports around you. Yes I think that's what I have been doing. Reading of your experiences kind of helps me to realise that my feelings are not so unusual and have been felt by others. Thanks for that.

I laughed when I read of your acquaintance who made an announcement to her whole family. Err that won't be happening anytime soon in my world! However – I can well see the point! I also liked reading about your telling your mum… who then told your dad. I can't imagine telling my dad – so I too would hope I could rely on mum to "pass the message on" to dad 🙂

Thanks again


Mother Hen
Joined in 2011
October 14, 2012, 13:28

Hi Sarab,

Great you are getting some wonderful responses here. Just thought I'd add another dimension here. And that is one from the parents side. Parents and other family members, siblings especially can also feel they are between two worlds in a way. Parents also go through a kind of coming out by telling their circle of friends and family that their child is gay and like wise for the siblings. So many parents and siblings I'm sure would feel they have 2 worlds, the world and life with the gay child/sibling and the other life with friends, family and work mates that they keep the fact that their child/sibling is gay private. We have told some family members but not all. I have old friends I meet from time to time who we went to church with and know my sons and ask how they are going. I choose to not tell them about my son being gay as I know it would not be accepted. I don't see them a lot so it's no big deal to keep it private. But it's also no big deal if they do know.

For us and I know for my other son we have told people we are close with and are a part of our lives. But people we don't have so much to do with we haven't said anything. Kind of a need to know basis. For me if it came up in conversation with other people I would say my son is gay, I'm proud of him and shouldn't feel I have to hide who is either. But I wouldn't necessary volunteer the information because for the most part it's no one else's business.

Just a thought 🙂

Joined in 2008
October 15, 2012, 21:53

Hi Sarab

I'm one of many, I'm sure, that have dealt with and still do deal with this issue! There's no easy answer but I do believe it's a step at a time 🙂 Everyone's experiences are going to be different. We need to make choices about coming out based on many factors. For me my work means I need to make measured decisions who I come out to. Thankfully my workmates all know and a few key committee members as well as a few parents, I suppose it's the people I have trusting relationships with 🙂

Linda and I also made some friends in the 'gay' world who have become really good supports away from the straight world, which I kind of find necessary, a balance of the two is good.

Feeling pressure to be out is hard but your sexuality is just one part of who you are so try not to let it be an overwhelming part 🙂

Take care


Joined in 2005
October 15, 2012, 23:07

Hi Sarab

The double life thing can be very difficult.

I managed it for a while – but I found that because I was in a relationship it became quite distressing to me.

Being a repressed Geek (joke) who idolised Vulcans growing up – AND having an English (stiff upper lip)(adopted) father I tend to be a little naive about my emotions until they hit my like a 10 tonne truck – and then I wonder where that came from .. I still remember sobbing one christmas day because I was with my family and he was with his family 25000 km's away and not only could we not be together – but we couldnt tell our families we were missing each other.

In the end – I couldnt take it any more and started coming out to people.

This dismayed my BF – who was embarressed and who had a bad experience coming out to his family and it was one (of several) the reasons we broke up.

To this day he avoids people I came out to.

On the other hand I mostly had good experiences when I came out. The first reactions were like – so ? who cares ?

I lost a few friends of mine from churches – but I gained others who were supportive of who and what I am.

I am now out to family (that took some time but worked out eventually) and friends and now when ever i change jobs I quietly mention my (male) partner – on the basis that I don't want to work anywhere where it may be an issue. However working in IT means I usually work in a fairly Gay friendly environment.

I actually found the hardest thing is coming out to people with whom I have known for a while but havent come out to them. Often you dont lie – but you hide the truth by not correcting their assumptions.

Once you have done that ( when people ask what you did on the weekend and you omit things like marching in Mardi Gras or when they ask about your GF (in my case) and you say they are OK etc) then I find it harder later to change their assumptions (I guess its because I feel I have lied to them and Im embarassed to admit that) . The closer you are to them – the harder it is to "come out"

So now I dont leave those moments uncorrected. I dont make a deal of it – I dont say – Im gay – I just note my Partner (and his name) or I might say I that I went to Mardi Gras. Thats all. Very low key. If people are uncomfortable they can ignore it. If they arent happy about it – they just ignore it.

There are some caveats

I dont tend to say anything in bigger groups and its worth remembering that information shared is no longer owned by you – you cant control it. I recently travelled overseas and I dont tell people I meet casually and I don't tell people I work with in other countries until I know them quite well.

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