Carol Leifer on the LAM

Carol Leifer came out at 40, got Bat Mitzvahed at 45, and adopted a son at 50. Now she has a new book that explains why the hard-to-pigeonhole comic is just along for the ride.




At 40. Do you think that was any easier than it would have been 20 years earlier?Coming out for anybody is a big deal, but coming out to your parents when you're 40? That was a lot of emotional drama. So much of that was the not coming out -- it was the agonizing for months leading up to it. Then my parents were so loving and amazing about it, the floodgates of tension just released. My mother is a shrink, and my dad, who's not here anymore, they're lefty liberals. I remember when I came out, my mother saying, "Finding love is a gift from God. There should just be tears of joy here." I know privately they needed to have their adjustment over it. But they're so loving, they left their own work to be done privately.

So why the agony?The agony was feeling that being gay would disappoint them. Maybe I was projecting. The other advantage I had coming out was that there are other gay members of my family -- on both sides. I think that helped a lot. And in a certain way it's a generational thing. Twenty years before I came out, it really would have been taboo and maybe shameful. But it's really changed.

And your parents had met Lori previously, so you knew they liked her at least.The fact that Lori is Jewish and my ex-husband was not -- add a thousand points. The power of religion is always funny to me. A guy who's not Jewish versus a woman who is Jewish? Oh, we'll take the woman. When I came out, my mother immediately said, "I knew that you two were a couple." Lori had come with me six months earlier to have a noncancerous -- thank God -- tumor removed from my breast. We took a walk around the neighborhood and my mother said she knew just from the way we were walking. The stuff you think you can hide, you can't. You can't hide a connection.

The party line says that we're born gay or straight. But in the book, you talk about it being an evolution for you. Did you become gay?I can only speak from my own experience -- and I spent a lot of years in therapy about this -- but I do think sexuality can be a fluid thing for some people. I don't think I was born gay. I had very powerful relationships with men, emotionally and sexually. And I never felt I was hiding being gay. I know what love is, and when I met Lori, I fell in love with her. I have to say the quality of our intimacy is way different than any relationship I had before with men.

How so?There's something in the quality of being with another woman. I've found a place that works for me better. Just the emotional aspect of our relationship is on a different level than the emotional aspects I had before with men.

Tags: Books