Tag Archive: coming out


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.

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Coming Out Day!

Geeze guys, why didn’t someone remind me?  It’s National Coming Out Day!

While this event is usually a celebration of open acknowledgement of sexuality and sexual orientation, I’d like to broaden the scope a bit and let you all think about the different ways one can come out.  The idea of coming out actually reminds me a little bit of (I know this will sound cheesy, but…)m High School Musical.  I know, I know, bear with me here.  So you remember the scene in the cafeteria where the one basketball kid tells his friends how he likes to bake, and then a nerd tells her friends that she loves doing hip-hop and suddenly everyone breaks out into that song “Stick to the Status Quo?”

Well, that’s how it goes with a lot of things.  We are children of societal expectation, and there are a lot of non-normative things that require “coming out.”  That can be anything from loving to knit to being gay or trans, to loving BDSM and kink.  There are a million practices and identities that society points fingers at, claiming that they are wrong or at the very least, not normal.

Which is why I love this article  by Asher Bauer and this video by Brown U. alum Marty about coming out  (which, of course, encompasses coming out to yourself) as kinky

http://vimeo.com/9310463

http://carnalnation.com/content/58326/1067/kink-coming-out-story?utm_source=CarnalNation&utm_campaign=232b2b8fe5-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

Marty, the courageous soul, came out on his Law School Applications as polyamorous, queer, and kinky, sparking an interesting conversation with his dad and society in general about which spaces allow us to be open about who we really are.

I hope you take a look and comment on both, but in honor of Coming Out Day, I’d really like to hear from you all about your coming out stories (or if you are an ally, about a friend who has come out to you).  Please share the love!

Focus on the Family

Every parent wants to raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child.  But sadly, finding out that their son or daughter is gay is rarely “part of the plan.”  When a teen comes out, their parents are generally taken by surprise, no matter how obvious it may have seemed.  They may feel overwhelmed or confused, asking , “How can a child that we have raised become something so alien to us?”  Accepting an LGBT identity dramatically changes the interaction between child and parent- suddenly, the child is the teacher, the one who has come to an understanding of a deep and complex idea without any prior knowledge from the parent.  And the parent is suddenly the student, trying to understand the new needs of their child.  Sadly, there are still households where coming out as LGBT is not acceptable religiously or morally, and worse yet, there are parents who are simply unwilling to learn about LGBT people and accept the role of student to their child.  This switching of roles does not, however, ALWAYS shatter a family dynamic.  In fact, in many ways, I feel that my coming out has brought my family closer.  And there are ways to make coming out and subsequent interactions easier and more beneficial for all family members.

Initially when I came out, my mother was worried, and with good reason.  The world was, and still is, often a hostile place for LGBT people.  I had a lot of Catholic friends whom she (and I) worried would reject me.  Although she accepted my orientation (and has a generally positive view of LGBT people in general), she urged me to stay closeted and never brought the subject up again.  At my request, she told my father, whose reaction was similar, but perhaps even more worried about the societal problems I would face become of sexuality.  Although I was initially relieved that my parents hadn’t been angry or upset, I knew in my heart that complacent acceptance was not what I was looking for from my parents.  I wanted them to better understand my sexuality- beyond just “Bianca likes girls and boys.”  They still clung the hope that I would “fall on the straight side of the equation” when I found a permanent partner.

So this is where my deep and abiding love of dialogue comes from: a lot of long, painful, sometimes tearful car rideswith my father, desperately trying to explain why I wouldn’t “grow out of being bi” and why his hopes for my marrying a man were hurtful, even though he only wanted the easiest life for me (one without the societal pressures of a lesbian relationship).  I can’t say we’re in a perfect place regarding that, but after 10+ months with my most amazing and supportive girlfriend, he is beginning to see that a relationship with a woman can be equally healthy and wonderful.  We’ve had several exchanges, but the most touching of which was an email I received telling me how happy he was to see me enjoying my time with Beth.

My parents have come a long way- my mum reads this blog as often as she can, which makes me infinitely happy, and my dad has reached out to Beth and her family in every way he is able to show his support.  Point being, there’s room for everyone, even the most accepting of parents, to learn more about you and your sexuality, if you’re willing to put yourself out there.

On the other side of the spectrum, though, I know many teens that are still closeted at home because of their family’s strong religious beliefs or simple blatant prejudice.  I don’t have much in the way of advice for you, sadly.  At the end of the day, you have to decide if sharing your true self with your parents and family members is worth the hurt and anger you may encounter.  I truly believe that any parent worth the air they breathe would still love their LGBT child, even if they are hurt, angry, confused, or conflicted.  But I have been proven wrong on this point.  And that’s a horrible reality to know.  For those of you living in situations where you fear the backlash of your family, from the deepest part of my heart, I apologize for your pain.  I invite you to search out people and organizations in your area who can help support you in your struggle.  It isn’t a fair one, but it need not be one you face alone.

PFLAG, as I have mentioned before, has chapters across the country and is the best support group I know for LGBT teens who need the love and acceptance of their parents’ generation- they can be a family in their own respect.

There are a lot of local organizations as well- Pittsburgh has a Gay and Lesbian Community Center on Grant Street and they hold youth nights every Friday night.  DC has everything from a Gay Jewish Shabbat service (Bet Mishpachah) to a Brazilian GLBT group.  ((The magazine Metro Weekly has an AMAZING listing of all the groups in DC))  And there are places like this in every city.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you.

I have always believed that family is who you let closest to you.   My girlfriend, my best friend George, my crazy neighbor Sarah, my 11th grade high school English teacher- these people are my family, even though they don’t share my blood.  They are there to support me, to listen to me, to share in my pain and my triumphs.  They are also the people who have accepted me unconditionally for the person I am and have embraced my sexuality as a part of my integral whole.  I hope that each and every one of you finds as good a family.

If You Were Gay…

Lessons from Avenue Q

Love this song from the Broadway musical, Avenue Q, about accepting a person’s orientation and recognizing that sexual behavior doesn’t change a friendship

Coming Out Every Day

I think one of the most interesting misconceptions of the gay community has to do with “coming out.” In a lot of literature, it seems like coming out is a singular event, it-happens-once-and-then-you’re-out-for-good kind of deal, which any out LGBT person can tell you is completely untrue.

Coming out is a constant, ongoing process which takes a lot of care, trust, and good judgment.  It’s about deciding who needs to know, who you want to know, who has the right to know, and how soon to tell them.  It’s about how much of your true self you are willing to put forth at any given time.

I think of coming out as one of the most unique experiences our modern

culture offers: in a way, all people “come out” with small aspects of their personality- the classic football player’s love for baking or the business man who cross-dresses on weekends.  Just like these modern archetypes, LGBT people all keep an aspect of their life quiet for a period of time; they hide a chunk of their essence because of fear, misunderstanding, or insecurity.  But, unlike the baking football player, coming out as LGBT exists on a whole other emotional playing field, because the confession is no longer one of practice, but one integral to the person’s being.

If necessary, a football player can stop making cookies on Saturday night- he may be sad to leave his favorite hobby, but he can choose to do so if he feels that it is bringing upon him too much criticism or mockery.  An LGBT person, on the other hand, can never abdicate that part of themselves.  He/she/ze will always be gay and that cannot change.  A gay person can suppress that part of themselves- like transgender people wearing cis-gendered (aka- aligned with their birth sex) clothing so not to draw attention to their true gender identity- but they can never completely eradicate the feelings that make up that identity.

Which is why coming out is so difficult EVERY SINGLE TIME.  A gay person does not simply say “Hey world, I’m gay,”

and then never need to express it again.  They will always be telling new people about their partner, about their gender or their preferred pronouns, or their sexuality.  Coming out never stops.  And it is incredibly hard.

Being LGBT forces you to read people immediately and accurately so that you know how much of the truth you can give out.  It forces you to constantly measure yourself and your personal feelings against other people’s prejudices and values.  And occasionally, it means coming out in spite of them, putting yourself in the path of hatred or rejection, in

veggie!

order to change someone’s point of view.

I can’t tell you how to come out and I can’t tell you who to tell first.  I can’t tell you when to do it for the first time, but I can tell you that there is no such thing as the last time.  You will always be coming out, always shaping and influencing with your disclosures and your trust.  And for that, the only thing I can say is thank you.  Thank you for your courage and conviction, for your belief in yourself and the purity of who you love.  Thank you for being ok with yourself and for slowly but surely teaching the rest of the world to be ok with it too.

The Rainbow Phase

At a discussion group last semester, a fellow group member touched upon the phenomenon known as “the Rainbow

Phase.”  This occurs, the group explained, usually 3-5 years after a person comes out as LGBT and is marked by intense association with and fixation on anything related to being gay.

For some people, this just means their wardrobe gets a little more colorful- maybe they’ll splurge on a pair of rainbow socks and actually wear them in public.  But as someone currently going through their “rainbow phase,” I can attest

that it often becomes something much more.

My rainbow phase began a few months before the end of senior year, and I think just now, writing this blog, it has hit its

peak.  For me, this project springs from an intense thirst for information, for understanding of the community I belong

to and the issues that affect it.  That means political decisions, legislation, personal struggles, theoretical perspectives, and everything in between.  But more than anything, my rainbow phase has been about processing and re-distributingmy new-found knowledge to build community and help others.  I want being LGBT to be a positive part of people’s existence and my rainbow stage is all about figuring out how to make that happen.

So here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Learn where you came from- I read the mammoth book Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History 1869 to the Present last summer in an effort to fill in the huge, looming gaps in my gay history knowledge.  I highly suggest this book, or at least a look at some of the more interesting chapters about Boston Marriages, the German Weimar Republic, and Russia’s Article 121.  The more you know about gay history, the better you can defend your own inherent equality and explain the customs, traditions, and culture you inherit through the LGBT community.  (Didn’t know we were a tribe with dances and ceremonies, did you?  Well, what do you think the Disco Era and The Hustle were all about!)
  2. Write.  Write ferociously and with abandon.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, keep records for yourself.  Make note of your thoughts, feelings, observations, and expressions.  Journal.  Use fragments and bullet points if you need to.  But mostly, just write.  You are creating an archive of the greatest, most vibrantly diverse and unique of human experiences.  People will want to know!  And you may want to look back someday.
  3. Talk.  Like with sex or religion, the worst damage is done by a lack of discussion and understanding.  Open yourself to other people’s questions and refuse to be offended by ignorance.  There is room for everyone (including yourself) to learn and grow, but the process is infinitely easier through talk, questioning, and exchange.
  4. When you are ready, come out with poise.  Be confident in the person you are and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  People who know a specific LGBT person are twice as likely to hold positive opinions of gay people in general.  Your bravery and openness can help pave the way for more rights, acceptance, and understanding for LGBT society as a whole.

Hey guys,

Just a little bonus for you today (I’ll be posting a real article tomorrow probably)- spotlighting The Gay in the Life Project.  This blog is a little new, but it’s got a great concept behind it, encouraging people like you to submit short essays about your life as an LGBT teen, your process of coming out and/0r acceptance, the trials and tribulations of your life.

I submitted one, which has just been published, so go check it out!  Then, if you’re feeling creative and ambitious (like I know you all are), write your own and submit it to our fearless blogger!

Stay queer.

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