Today is National Coming Out day, and as a gay American, this day holds very special meaning to me.
Though coming out is a different experience for everyone, and many people fear coming out for the possible re-precautions that might and do sometimes follow, I can only speak positively about my coming out experiences. For me, my coming-out experience, but for me, it’s almost always been a truly great because the response to those I came out to has always been welcoming.
For starters, when I told my stepmother I was bisexual (my first step to being a card-carrying full blown gay, [though to digress I will say I am becoming increasingly bi-curious as of late]), she looked at me, and said “I figured.” It was a non-issue. She didn’t make me uncomfortable, she just accepted it as fact. Simple as that.
Years later, I told my father I was gay via a letter I wrote. I sat him down at the kitchen table, had him read it, explained it all of my fears regarding my sexuality and him knowing, and the first words out of his mouth were upon completely the letter were: “Well, it took you long enough.” Followed by his stern, amazingly clear statement explaining his unconditional love for me.
I told my mother, on this day, in 2007, via a text message. She was relatively excited, mostly I think because we can check out men together (which we do, relatively frequently now).
I came out to my sister after that. I waited the longest with her, because she was the person I feared could reject me, due to her strong religious convictions. I wrote her a lengthy letter and sent it to her. The problem, I found, with coming out in a letter, is that I didn’t know if she got it. She never told me if she did or didn’t. And when we saw each other, well after the fact, she didn’t mention it at all. And she treated me no different. It wasn’t until I went to church with her that I learned of her opinion on my homosexuality. The preacher started speaking about gay issues, and though the service was not terribly offensive, it did come close. After the service, which I sat through and respectfully listened to though I disagreed with much of what the preacher was saying, my sister said, “Please don’t be offended by anything you heard in church today. It’s not what every Christian thinks.”
And that was that.
In terms of coming out at work, I was asked by a co-worker, who I was already out to, if I would speak on a panel as an openly gay teen (I was technically nineteen at the time) at a conference the library was putting on called the “Teen Leadership Conference.” I agreed to speak on the panel, because I knew how important it was to set an example for people at such an young and impressionable age. I also know that good leaders are those who can welcome and encourage everyone. That speech was how I came out at work. It won me an award from my direct supervisor.
The same thing happened when I came out in column while working at Arizona State Universities student newspaper, the State Press, as I detailed in a recent blog post titled Fear is So Gay, But Then So Am I.
Often, I like to say I am lucky in how accepting and loving everyone as been in my coming out experiences. But the reality is, I am not lucky. I am human, and those that I love and have come out to, including my co-workers and bosses, realize that. They know there is no difference between the human I am, and the human they are.
I was bullied in high school, sadly, like every gay person I know has been. But, I know that there are people who love and accept, and I have been the witness to that. I know, we as humans have it in us to doing the very human thing, and so, someday, I know, we can — and will — stop bullying.