Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

May 12, 2013

05/12/2013 — Lee Ward: Collins brave for coming out; fianceé needs courage, too

ASHLAND — Nothing famous people do shocks me, so when Jason Collins announced he is gay, I wasn’t too surprised.

Statistics indicate as much as 10 percent of the population may be gay, so there are bound to be gay people everywhere, even in the macho world of professional sports.

I felt for Collins and was proud of him. I’ve known many people who came out and I know how difficult it was for them. They were afraid their families would reject them and their friends wouldn’t support them, on top of fearing discrimination and violence. I’m sure being famous compounded the situation for Collins.

Then, I heard he had been engaged.

I understand even better how Collins’ fianceé, Carolyn Moos, feels.

I was in love with a gay man, too.

No one realized he was gay and I don’t think he knew he was, either.

We spent all our free time together and I’d never had more fun or been more comfortable with a man. It was the first time I had truly been happy and the first time I could see myself being married. I was willing to go wherever he wanted to go and live however he wanted to live. It was the first time I truly loved and trusted someone.

I didn’t express my feelings; I didn’t have to. I think anyone who saw us together knew how I felt. Even he could see it, which I believe helped him to come out to himself, and then to me.

Moos was quoted as saying, “It’s very emotional for me as a woman to have invested eight years in my dream to have a husband, soulmate and best friend in him.”

Although we were not engaged and I didn’t invest eight years of my life in my gay man, I did consider him a soulmate and a best friend and it was an emotional situation that took years for me to wrap my head around so I could get on with my life.

But I did get on with my life.

I learned I wasn’t the only woman who had been in love with a gay man. I learned that, as heartbreaking as it was for me, people on the outside looking in found it hilarious.

To my surprise, I learned how many people still hold fear and hatred for gay people.

Eventually, I learned how to get on with my life. I even started dating — mostly straight men — and eventually married a straight man.

I never allowed my doomed relationship with a gay man to turn me against gay people. Many of my closest friends are gay. Even the gay man I was in love with has become one of my dearest friends, lending his support through the deaths of my parents and my husband and during my own illness.

I wish Carolyn Moos the best of luck as she continues to cope with having been in love with Jason Collins and I hope the two of them can build a friendship based on the love I know they have for one another.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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