Happy National Coming Out Day!
Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day. It got me thinking about the many steps to my coming out and how it is today. I was in a non-gay marriage for 15 years and had a 5 year old when it finally became clear to me that I was living a lie. So, the first person I came out to was me, pretty quickly followed by some close friends--none of them close or friends today--and my then-husband.
I set a time to meet with my parents to tell them about my upcoming divorce not about coming out. My dad looked at me and said, "You think you're a lesbian?" My response was "Good guess!" When I asked how he knew, he told me I was his kid and he knew in the same way he knew my eyes were green. And I thought I was doing so well in that deep, dark closet.
Anyway, that was way easier than I ever imagined. Turns out, my parent were just waiting for me to make this announcement. Years and years later my aunt told me that my father had asked her when I was still in my teens if she thought I was gay. Wish they had let me in on their suspicions.
My whole family knew in less than a few hours as my father called everyone to share the news. Never saw that one coming. He was actually proud that I was happy and moving forward. Since so many in my circle already knew, it was time to let my little boy in on the truth. He was 7 going on 40 at the time and has been a huge supporter from day one. I told him he could tell (or not) anyone he wanted. I also knew that telling him set the absolute rule that within our home truth would always be the norm.
Since those early days, I've come out to employers, clients, ever larger circles of colleagues. I've spoken publicly, been in the press and on the radio. Coming out feels like a non-issue until I hear the question, "What does your husband do?" My answer now is "Don't have one of those, but my wife..." Took a while to get there, though.
Within less than 10 minutes of meeting a new acquaintance, I generally let them know that they are talking to a real-live lesbian. My reasoning is that I want to like most folks and I don't want to hear them say something really dumb. At least not without knowing who they are talking to. I get less and less "some of my best friends..." and more "oh..." these days.
So, who will I come out to today? Not sure, but there must be someone. I'll look for an opportunity.
How about you? Can you make a decision to tell someone about who you are today? It has been documented that when someone knows a GLBT person, they are more likely to be supportive of our issues and rights. That translates to votes in favor of issues important to our lives. Once they know one of us we are no longer a concept, we become people. And that's what National Coming Out Day is all about.