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Lincoln Life: An old man coming out of the closet, resigned, hopeful

Lincoln Life: An old man coming out of the closet, resigned, hopeful


My phone rang Monday — the day after my column about the coming out of a small town Nebraska man ran in the Journal Star.

“You wrote my story Sunday,” said the voice on the other end.

Excuse me?

“You wrote my story, that could have been me.”

Then he told me, in an old man’s voice, that he, too, grew up in a small Nebraska town, knowing he was gay.

But his story didn’t come out the way Martin Steele’s did. Martin came out in his early 20s after spending years hiding who he was, using and abusing alcohol and drugs to stuff down the misery.

It was 1987 and he was 23, when he called his sister — Annette Dubas, a candidate for governor — and told her he was gay.

After he “beta tested” Annette — he told his parents and the rest of his family.

He’s 49 now, a social worker working with at-risk youth in San Francisco.

He sobered up, finished college, found love. His family never stopped loving Martin for who he was, and is.

It’s a happy ending story.

The caller told me he came out to his sister, too. She was the person in his family he’d always felt closest to, he said.

She rejected him.

“She won’t have anything to do with me.”

He told me that he is 82.

That he’s never had a partner. Never known sexual intimacy with someone he loves.

“And I’m just now starting to come out.”

He sounded resigned and hopeful and matter-of-fact.

Then he asked if I’d send him a few copies of the column. I said sure, and we said goodbye.

The phone call made me think of my granny’s two bachelor brothers. My great-uncles who may have just have never found the right woman. Or may have just been born to love a man.

They lived with their mother.

And when he was in his 60s, one of those lonely men hung himself in the garage.

Reach Cindy Lange-Kubick at 402-473-7218 or


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Cindy Lange-Kubick has loved writing columns about life in her hometown since 1994. She had hoped to become a people person by now, nonetheless she would love to hear your tales of fascinating neighbors and interesting places.

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