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Rainn Wilson Comes Out (Sorta)

Rainn Wilson Comes Out (Sorta)


Hello there my gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers. Rainn here.

In the spirit of my new endeavor, SoulPancake, the book and the website, I want to pose to you all a rather difficult "Life's Big Question."

No matter your sexual orientation, we all have to wrestle with big questions in one way or another before we die. Whether we have eternal souls. Whether we have free will. Is there a God? What is love? What is intuition? The list goes on and on.

This LBQ(tm) (also featured in the new SoulPancake book) is relevant for anyone dealing with personal identity, especially sexual identity, but it's one that we all must confront in some form or another. I know how painful this question can be for many of my gay and lesbian friends -- particularly those who haven't yet come out -- but it's a difficult one for the straighties as well.

Here goes:

Does your family see the real you?

I'll start. Then you go.

For me, this is a doozy. It reminds me of that famous Tolstoy quote:

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Mine was "unhappy in its own way." Really unhappy. [Note: I can't diss my family too much here, since they'll probably read this article. (Damn you, Google alerts!)]

My parents win the strange award. They are good souls who tried as best as they knew how to raise a dorky, Northwestern son in the Seattle suburbs during the late '70s and early '80s, but they're still weirdos.

My dad was an abstract artist, science fiction writer, and sewer truck dispatcher. My stepmom was a housewife who watched soaps, read (and reread) P.G. Wodehouse novels, and pretty much raised me. [Note: My birth mom left when I was 2 and got married three or four more times. She worked as an experimental theater actress, at a mental hospital, and as a part-time park ranger. We got back in touch when I was 15, and she was living on the Wapato Indian reservation. I'm not making this shit up, people!]

They were also an eclectically religious lot, which, on the one hand, meant I was exposed to some really fascinating, progressive ideas about the universe, but it also meant I grew up with rigorous expectations that I would conform to some very challenging moral standards.

That was tough for me. When I hit college, I was off and running. I left the faith of my youth (as so many of us do) and decided to break every family rule.

I couldn't bring myself to tell my parents I was having premarital sex and using drugs and alcohol because of all the shame I felt doing it. They couldn't bring themselves to see the real me -- the confused, young-adult Rainn who was living la vida bohemia in Greenwich Village.

Those decades were filled with pleasantly passed pleasantries with my suburban misfits (who were continually getting divorced and remarried), but inside I felt nothing but rage and annoyance at them. At the same time, I lacked the courage and integrity to stand up to them and say who I really was and what my life was about at that time. I couldn't challenge them to see the real me, partly because I still desperately wanted their approval and partly because I didn't own who I truly was.

And today? I'm a TV actor who likes exploring life's big questions. Happily married with a beautiful 6-year-old son. Do my parents now see the real me? Hell no. (But truth be told, I've never really let them.) They want to believe they did an amazing job raising me and that it must have been by their efforts that I turned out so successful. And even if they had an inkling about my downward spirals, like most idealistic parents, they blissfully ignored it. They know nothing of the demons that tormented me through my 20s and 30s or my (relatively minor) abuse of (and recovery from) drugs and alcohol. They now put me on a pedestal and get their own egos boosted from my success.

The reality is, I've learned it does "get better." But I'm still not quite ready to tell my family the whole truth about myself. I have a lot of work to do to get there. But when I do, I hope that I have the courage, honesty, and integrity to stand in front of them resentment-free, flaws and all, my heart filled with compassion, and introduce them to the real me. Wish me luck.

Now you go.

Does your family see the real you?

For more information on SoulPancake, click here.

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