While for personal reasons, I generally try to avoid writing about my girlfriend on this blog, I felt it was appropriate (though no particular event spawned it), to include a little bit about her life and why I value her so much as a person.
The other day, I was participating in a panel on LGBT issues for a group of 7th and 8th graders at the Unitarian Universalist Church nearby, and I was struck by how removed I’d become from the coming out process. One of my fellow panel members had yet to come out, and she was talking to the students about her fears and hopes about telling her parents eventually. I was very happy and nervous for her, yet her whole explanation seemed so far away from my present situation.
I dealt with few of the anxieties that plague many LGBT teens when coming out. My parents and I have a very good relationship with open lines of communication, I have a religion which openly accepts my orientation, and so on. I like to say I lived the gay fairytale.
This, of course, brings me back to my beautiful girlfriend. Beth has not had the easy ride I had in coming out. While I remained closeted for a little under 4 months, she felt unable (and to an extent, found it unnecessary) to come out until she reached graduate school. Her family came from a very religious background which was not terribly supportive of LGBT people and the subject was rarely broached in family conversation. While she assures that she never feared being ostracized by her family, she worried nonetheless that it would drastically change the dynamic in her household.
Yet in the course of the past few months, she’s faced all of this- coming out to her parents and the rest of her family…for me. To me, this takes baffling courage. I recognize it as the kind of courage that happens every day though, and it makes me incredibly proud and full of awe. Every day, people facing the same challenges as Beth are forging on into the unknown towards a more open and honest life- sometimes for their loved ones, sometimes for themselves, but always in the pursuit of something more authentic for their lives.
It has been my privilege to watch Beth’s story unfold from the very beginning. It has been my joy to hear every development- every family member who has extended their blessing, every acknowledgment of her worth as a daughter, a cousin, a friend, regardless of her sexual orientation. And I can’t help but feel honored for it. That somehow, at the core of all of this, I fit in. I can find some relevance in the shifting paradigm of her world.
Beth, ever modest and understated, claims that her coming out isn’t really a big deal. And yet, I’m having Thanksgiving with her family- something I never thought I’d get to do. Another small speck of permanence enters our lives, and her coming out has made it possible. Perhaps it hasn’t changed everything, but her courage and her poise throughout this process does mean something. It feels like a ripple of hope for everyone out there who might think they have the odds stacked against them, who might be scared or ashamed to come out.
Somewhere inside, we all have the strength and courage to do what Beth has done. And for that, I am grateful and excited for the future.
To close, I’m including a quick article, called “There Were No Closets in My House.” Suzzane Forbes gives us all an idea of what a world may look like when coming out (which can take many forms, not exclusively related to LGBT issues) is no longer necessary, where closets fail to appear in childhood. Though I don’t plan on children, I could only wish such an upbringing for future generations.