Thursday, October 11, 2012

Come out, come out, wherever you are

Happy National Coming Out Day.

I've done some stuff on outness in the past. (Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, specifically.)

This year, I'm saving it for the LGBTQIA folks here on CMC.

I'll pose the same challenge on my own Facebook page, but understanding that some of you readers are not my Facebook friends, and that some of you who are may prefer the anonymity of the blog, we're doing it here, too.  If you have one, use the comments to share a coming-out story. Pick whatever one you'd most like to share (The most recent? The first? The funniest? The weirdest? The most educational?). Heck, tell us a couple. Tell as many as you feel inclined to. Use your real name or a fake one; I don't care.

This should go without saying, but: Your own stories only, please.

If you have something to share that's not a coming-out story, just for today, I'm asking you not to do it here. Feel free to comment on the CMC Facebook page, or to come back and comment on the blog another day, or to e-mail questions or comments or whatever, but for today, this space isn't yours. Please, please, please pass this on to others who might have something to share. I'd love for this comment thread to get loooooong.

I'll start with one, but will likely share one or two others through the day in the comments:
I was a senior in college, and completely freaking out about all the things seniors in college freak out about (what will I do with my life? Who am I, anyway?) and scheduled an appointment with my Women's Studies professor (an excellent professor and influence in a very early-90s gender deconstructionist way) the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to talk about the fact that my passions seemed to be in Women's Studies, but I didn't want to stay in school long enough to teach it, and I didn't want to work in non-profits the rest of my life. So we talked about that, and in very dramatic fashion, I think I told her more or less every thought I had in my head (My boyfriend collects handguns and I don't believe in handguns! I'm in this weird situation with my roommates! I think I'm bisexual* and I don't know what to do with that!). I'd literally never before that moment admitted even to myself that that was even a real possibility. 
And she was my first of many examples that someone can be fine with what you say and still respond in ways you'd prefer they not. Her response (to all of the above, actually), was, "So what?" Which was, in its horrible, dismissive, evil way, fantastic. It did not calm me down any, but it got me to verbalize about what, specifically, was the big deal of my story ("Gender may all be socialized**, but socialization is real, and people have real and sometimes dangerous reactions to people who stray outside the lines, and just because you're an academic doesn't mean I will always have the protection you can claim for yourself!").
And then, I calmed down. 

*I do not, anymore, identify as bisexual, though I did for more than a decade.
**I do not, anymore, think gender is all socialized, but I did at the time and so did she. I should e-mail her and find out if she still thinks that. 


Anonymous said...

I'm sure I've come out to many people in my life but there's one that matters most to me. Because he matters most to me. I was eighteen and I was in love for the first time. Prior to this relationship, I'd only been in one other with this boy. Silly story, but not the one I'm telling. Anyway, I fell hard for this girl after never consciously having looked at my sexual identity before. It wasn't a thing before that. But after that first kiss, I was set.

This story is about the day after that kiss. I was riding with my dad someplace. Just me and him. Now, I really love my dad. He's always been that guy, you know. The one you want to make the proudest. To love you and support you no matter what. But I was young and believed these things were fragile. So, naturally, I was nervous to tell him. Nervous? I had myself at near panic.

We made very little chitchat on that drive. I couldn't get out of my head. How do I tell him. What's he gonna say. Blah. Blah. Blah. Finally, since we were nearly there, I bucked up and asked him, what would you think if I were a lesbian? It was such a relief to have said it but I was still terrified.

Without so much as a pause for breath, he replies, it doesn't matter to me as long as you're happy. I'll always love you. After all my freaking out, that was it. But that's my dad for you.

I have heard such horror stories about other people coming out. I feel so blessed to not have those same struggles. I know that not everyone can be as accepting as my old man but if parents just loved their kids, the world would be a far better place.

Anonymous said...

Probably a few years before I came out, my mother asked if I was gay because I supported gay rights. When I finally did tell her, she seemed annoyed more than anything.

I sometimes still wonder how our relationship would be different if I was straight. It's OK now, but she's definitely uncomfortable.

Carrie said...

I out my mother all the time (she is aware I do this). The first time I did so I was in a training with my new company and several of us had gone out to lunch. As we drove back through the parking lot one of the women commented on the "fag flag" on one of the cars. I said "That's my car, my mother is gay, and we work for a company which embraces diversity. You should think before you speak." The company I worked for was an early offerer of benefits to same sex couples.

I have also outed my mother at my chiropractor's office, to the receptionist when we were talking about marriage equality (I let her know my mother could not be on her partner's health insurance even though they had a legal civil union in NJ). At my hairdresser's when I was having a pedicure for Mom's civil union ceremony. And at work whenever someone says something unthinking about gay people or marriage equality.

My purpose in this has always been to make people realize that gay people are not just "those people over there" but my mother, my aunts' sister, my grandmother's daughter. I am proud to say that all the people in my family (including my father) continue to embrace and love my mother and have welcomed her wife into the family.