Saturday, May 30, 2009

Coming out as "a blogger"

Back in February, I remarked in a comment that:
If one day I find myself a boyfriend who doesn't know about [my blog], then working out if/how to tell him will be very tricky.
That produced an anonymous comment which asked:
Why tricky? unless a blogger has things to hide surely it's better to let their partner know?...or is this part of blogging, keeping things secret from the person they love while sharing with the rest of the world and fellow bloggers! As you have met other bloggers, if they were to meet your partner would you not have to lie to them how you know them, which is fundamentally being dishonest to your partner? Or again is this part of the thrill? Maybe some of your other readers/followers have thoughts on this?
Thinking a bit about this, anonymous blogging is quite an unusual activity. It's certainly something that's only become possible with the growth of the Internet. I also feel that it's enormously beneficial to a person in many ways, because it provides an outlet for all one's hopes and fears, as well as acting as a personal diary. It's certainly helped my personal development a lot since I started blogging over 4 years ago.

Blogging when all your friends know the web address of your blog is different, because you can't say exactly what you feel. You always have to edit and restrict yourself, because your audience knows who you are and knows the people involved. Blogging in that situation is still worthwhile of course, because it's still creative and it allows all your friends to keep up with what's going on in your life. But you couldn't write about any relationship or other personal problems.

Beach photoFor me, it's certainly not a question of wanting to hide things from any new boyfriend. Indeed, in one sense I was quite relieved when ex-boyfriend P found out about my blog, because it forced a solution to the question about if or when I should tell him. But of course, after he knew about the blog, writing about my relationship with him became more difficult, and the same will also be true if I tell any new boyfriend about this blog.

Although I kept the blog secret from ex-boyfriend S, I feel that I should tell any new boyfriend about the blog. I enjoy blogging, but it takes several hours each week to draft my postings and to respond to the emails that I get, so I shouldn't keep something that occupies that much time secret from him. The alternative, where he knows that I spend time online but it's not clear what I'm doing would be a bad idea, because it might undermine our relationship if he thinks that I spend that much time cruising!

One possibility would be to tell any new boyfriend that I'm a blogger, but then not tell him the web address. That could be justified on the grounds that reading my blog would be like reading my private diary. However, if he went looking for my blog I think he'd find it quite easily! Because I've been blogging for so long, I know that it comes up in the results for many types of Google searches these days.

It's ironic that I get a lot of "Dear GB" emails from guys who're having problems coming out as gay, because I can see parallels with the problems that I'm discussing here about coming out as a blogger! It wouldn't be such a big deal if I only had a small blog, but since I've now got over 650 posts it's not an insignificant part of my creative output. And of course, coming out as a blogger to a new boyfriend carries the risk that if he reads my blog, he may end up changing his mind about wanting to be my boyfriend.

Another possibility would be not to tell any new boyfriend about this blog and simply give up blogging. The problem with that is that I do enjoy blogging. Also, it's taken a while to build up my small readership, and it seems a shame to throw it all away.

Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts on this subject I'd be very interested to hear them!


Was Once said...

Honesty is best policy, if you don't tell or lie day your total creditability will be questioned usually over some dumb thing between you both.

Jay said...

This is not about ethics and what is ethical! Surely the whole point about being an individual is about keeping somethings to oneself. We don't always have to tell our partners everything, that is rather boring. And i do think you lose your individuality, as a result, esp when one is in a relationship! One should always have some sort private time.


Volodya said...

I would not be able to hide a blog from my partner and would be really frustrated if a partner hid something like that from me; as you say, it is something you enjoy, something you spend plenty of time on etc. Jay's comment does sound a bit naive - I hope that he however is able to have strong emotional bonds with someone special with that kind of attitude! ;-)

GaySocrates said...

I think anonymous blogging is a really helpful coming out device for gay people-in fact for anyone who has had to fearfully hide their identity during their early adolescent development. Most gay people have a phase of at least a few years when they pretend to be something they are not in order to fit in. They hide their true self together with their sexuality beneath a phony false self. The longer the pretense continues the deeper the chasm between the two personality fragments. Anonymous blogging gives a public airing to the hidden persona and allows for an integration to occur between our public and private selves.
If an anonymous blog were a private diary then the idea of having a partner know about it and read it would probably seem a bit weird to most people. I can imagine that any future boyfriend would want to respect your private space and wouldn't dream of wanting to see your private entries. The problems with an anonymous blog in relation to a partner are
1 That you are giving the world access to a very private aspect of who you are and not sharing this private part with your partner.
2 You may have told the world about past encounters that you would not wish to have your partner know about.
3 You may end up blogging about your partner in which case you might be sharing hopes, fears, reservations, and irritations about the relationship with the world. If the partner and his friends were to subsequently discover the blog this would be humiliating and could be seen as an invasion of his privacy.
I think its a real dilemma and a few of the options are
1 To keep on blogging and not get a partner and only get a partner when you no longer feel the need to blog anonymously.
2 To continue blogging but to be honest[ish] with your partner that you are a writer, hoping someday to be published but you are very private about your work. Also that your writing might include very personal aspects of the relationship and that to have a relationship with you means that aspects of your life together might ultimately be exposed to the world for public scrutiny
3 Continue as you are but don't EVER let the blog be discovered
I personally prefer option 2 but having said that I still haven't told my partner what I'm up to yet!

close encounters said...

GB, does this mean that things are getting to an advanced stage with one of your men ??

Anonymous said...

This is a toughie gb. I blog with those fears in mind and do exercise restraint with what I post. You and your partner will probably have little things that you don't share but as you pointed out this is a big chunk of your time and if you were living together, your online activities would not go unnoticed. Even if you didn't disclose it, if you're in love with him, you may find lying about it hurts you emotionallly.
I would probably go down the path of telling him that you're a blogger but certainly not where to find it and also that you hope he respects your privacy and this is just something you like to do. The part he may find difficult to comprehend (and where the diary argument fails) is that while you're locking him out, you're letting the world at large in. It will be hard on your partner because he will probably be a substantial part of your blog posts and is it fair to expose him to the world? Also, if it is easy to link you to the blog, you have to think about whether you're prepared to be outed as gb to friends/etc should things go wrong.
I wish I had a easy answer since it is clear how much blogging means to you. Part of me thinks perhaps a fellow blogger would be more underdstanding, however I can't help but wonder if their curiousity will get the better of them. Also, maybe the same way you found it helpful at a certain stage in life, perhaps you may find you no longer need it the way you did and you can run it to post some of your activities and readers' emails.

Anonymous said...

I think blogging is somewhat like writing in a diary...although your thoughts are open to the world on is still left a secret to those around us which is the reason why we write in diaries put our personal thoughts when we are not willing to express them otherwise and everyone has their right to privacy...right?

closetalk said...

i do agree with u. and have posted on my blog - and theorized privately - on this topic several times in the past. the pros and cons of anonymous blogging. on the one hand, its undeniable that the ego loves forming a 'circle' of blogger friends, etc. etc. but it's also true that when a large number of your offline friends know WHERE u blog, or a large number of your blogger 'circle' knows who u ARE... well, it just makes blogging much more problematic. how free are u really then to talk about things, issues, and people the way u normally wud have? u may feel embarassed, closeted, or even jittery abt the things u want to say, and that might even make u swear off blogging for awhile. thanks for the post. :)

Anonymous said...

I managed to keep my blog 'secret' from Hubby for around a month. I wanted the space for myself to explore some ideas, work through issues I've had, both past and present and also as a mechanism for improving my writing with a long term goal of possibly penning a book.

I'm not good with secrets, though. I find them divisive and they eat away at me. Having a 100% anonymous blog ended up making me feel like I was somehow cheating.

On that basis I made the decision to tell Hubby that I had the blog.

It also made it easier to share stuff that I've written with him if I think it's good or if I want impartial opinions.

Having said that, he himself told me not to give him the address as it meant that I'd feel compromised when writing intimate pieces which resemble our lives. There are sections of the blog which are painfully autobiographical, whereas some seem autobigraphical on the surface, but which are, in fact, fictional. For him to tell them apart would be impossible (if I've written well, at least!) as most are inspired by real-life events.

It wouldn't be hard for him to find the blog. I'm not the kind of person to clear caches/histories etc. I try to live in a way that anything I do is transparent. Perhaps that's why I hate birthday/christmas shopping as it means being sneaky with funds!!!!

Since telling Hubby about the blog I've not looked back to see whether I've written anything which might be upsetting to him, and I don't intend to. I'm not certain how it will affect my future writing, though. We're what I consider a 'successful' couple in that we argue and fight but we're 100% a team, come what may.

Superchilled said...

An interesting conundrum... The anonymous aspect certainly does give you more freedom to write without fear of reprisal, and that honesty is then more real to your readers & more reflective of reality. Losing the anonymity you will edit and restrict the content and that will take the blog in a new direction. In an ideal world you would be able to be open about your blog and not fear any backlash, but the world is not ideal. A perfect boyfriend would understand your blogging desire & respect the power of anonymity. If you are not identified, then nor is he.

Mike said...

From reading your post, but not analysing closely the excellent comments on it, I would write this:

I have friends and family who read my blog, and I am glad of it. It has proven to be an excellent way to bring people I care about along with me – although I appreciate the paradigm was different for you!

People I’ve had relationships with have known about my [main] blog, though I have never shared the link and expressly forbidden bf's to follow it. I justify that – to myself - by always being honest about things that happened and my own view of them. So, new boyfriends and other friends - yes, I'd share. Your blog has been established long enough that it shouldn't pose a threat, after all. And you should certainly keep blogging. Sharing your blog is like sharing your sexual history. You do, because it’s right; although it is uncomfortable and you hope you aren't going to be told something you might not like. You deal with what comes (pardon the pun).

Anonymous said...

I think Gb it was me who wrote the inspiring piece.
It seems that the blogger world is divided on this one. But there are a few other predicaments/issues that this brings up.
1. What do you do if you know your other half blogs, but he has denied it to you? should you confront them? say you know and that its not an issue?? keep quiet????
2. if you meet 'friends' that you know he met blogging....should you reveal/keep quiet
3. should you just forget the whole issue pretend it doesn't exist and hope they can find it in them to tell you
4. should you start following their blog??????????????

it's endless, but i feel it is what works for each individual/couple to decide? or is it?


Anonymous said...

I would take my time in letting anyone turn into a 'significant bf'. Relationships need time to mature.

Once a strong bond is established, you should not be worried about sharing your blogging identity with your bf.

I would not bring the matter of gay blogging up too soon. There is really no need for it.

If you are looking for a stable and serious relationship, you are looking for a person who will be happy to disagree with you ever so often, without ever thinking that differences between the two of you should be a reason good enough for him to end your friendship...


underneath said...

Interesting blog.. makes me THINK.

Hedonist said...

Well, I wonder the same thing as well. As you I have an anonymous blog and I use it as sort of diary where I write what I do and think, sometimes with more questions than answers. The advantage of the blog being that you do get feedback, something a diary wouldn't produce.

There's a lot of value in keeping it private even if you're in a long term relationship.

You may be telling the world as suggested but it's still anonymous so you're not breaching anyone's privacy as long as you don't breach yours or identify others.

But it's of course not quite as simple as that... and if you tell someone you have a blog but want to keep it private that may be much worse as the other person may think you have something to hide unless he truly understands it's a personal diary and a way for you to clarify your thoughts and feelings.