10/11/08

National Coming Out Day

Grab a cocktail, this is a long one!

When I was growing up in a small city in Iowa, I knew I was different. It was indefinable, because no one ever said the word “Gay” or “Lesbian” and no one I knew was gay, or at least that’s what I thought then. I didn’t know what “it” was or what it meant. I struggled through my various phases of adolescence and experimentation and came out on the side of “normal;” a normal that was never really who I was. Things were different then—and even more different for the generations of Gays and Lesbians who had their own struggles before mine.

One day, I knew in my heart of hearts if I didn’t come out, I would surely explode into a million pieces. Every facet of my life was crumbling around me because of my own fears of being who I was. The process was painful. Painful for me and painful for some of the people in my life whose range of reactions was anything from: I was duplicitous and my entire life to that point had been some sort of fraud perpetrated on them - to offering sincere concern for my well-being and future happiness, not to mention the state of my soul and where it was most assuredly going to end up.

The day I came out to my mom I felt the closest to her I ever have. I told her in person, struggling with the words, terrified of rejection, and she came out on the other side of her upbringing and beliefs to wrap her arms around me and tell me that she loved me. I’m sure she had said those words before, and I’m sure she’d hugged me at some other point in my life, but this will always be the one I remember. That hurdle leapt, I came out to others in my life one step at a time. Though I hoped I would not lose people along the way, I did. But, I’d say that my experience was pretty easy as these experiences go—it’s not that way for everyone.

Things have changed. Recently, I was told by a teen in my life that I’d be surprised how many middle-schoolers already identify as bisexual or gay—apparently, they actually talk about it and use the words we didn’t even know existed when I was young. Hell, yes, I’m surprised, I’m surprised any of them have even honed down their emotions and those hormonal urges to anything specific other than having the urge to hump anything that moves and some things that might not move.


And, while queers and perceived queers continue to be the victims of homophobic attacks and torment, Gay-Straight Alliances are popping up in schools everywhere. Now, if we could just connect the good things that are happening in schools to help all of those gay teens who will kill themselves this year because they fear facing their parents or can no longer stand the bullying, before it happens, I’d be very happy.

When a large segment of our population votes for legislation that bars gays from marrying or votes to allow discrimination against gays, they are not rejecting “what I do,” they are rejecting me, as a person, and telling me I am not equal to them. They are rejecting me, a taxpayer who does not enjoy the same tax benefits or property succession rights, yet helps support the myriad of welfare programs that benefit those left in poverty because of heterosexual divorce and unchecked heterosexual breeding. They are rejecting me, the human being, by denying me the opportunity to create a legal and protected relationship with a lifemate of my choice. That pisses me off.

This is the bottom line: Being gay is not what I do; it’s who I am—to the core of my being. It’s not detachable nor is it disposable. You can’t legislate it away or banish it to Hell. Finding “the right man” won’t work, it’s been tried. It can’t be cured and no amount of prayer will change it. You can’t wash it down the drain and you sure as Hell can’t put it back in the closet!

Every person who walks out of that closet has family, friends, neighbors, teachers, employers, and colleagues who have the potential to change their mind on gay issues to one in our favor once they actually know/love/respect a gay person themselves. We fear what we do not understand. Put a face on their fear, so their fear no longer makes sense. Have your voice heard, help make us stronger—come out, come out, wherever you are!


HRC has a number of tips available on their website to guide those who do choose to take the day to come out.

And from Sinnerviewer, here's a great video and some National Coming Out Day resources. Enjoy!



For more info on National Coming Out Day, click HERE.

If you did or plan to come out to someone today, even if you are already openly gay, please leave comments and let us know about your experience.

Hahn at Home

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey lori you're right not everyone has it the same way, even after you dare to come out, some people just choose to live in denail and count you as heterosexual, its all very selfish, people make you feel bad just for being who you are, being gay hurts no one and i find stupid if someone dares to say they've been hurt or dissapoined becuase someone they know is gay, personally it pains me to see how people neglect themselves, especially because there is someone I hold very close to my heart and wont be with me just because she can't deal with her sexuality, because all her life she's been told is not right, that it is not natural and so she lives the way her parents and her religion expect her to.

and to face the fact that the only person you ever want to be with, and who might just want to be with you only as well, its no just because she´s been told she cant.

how am I supposed to accept that?

Jules Joyce said...

Hi Lori,

Excellent post!

I can relate to you in more ways than one. I too grew up in the dark ages in Iowa -- in Des Moines. Although my coming out experience was as hard as hell, it was also pretty easy as these experiences go. I'm very lucky.

Thank you for sharing your story and your insights into LGBT issues!

Cheers,

Jules Joyce
The Fighter Writer

Shirley said...

National Coming Out day... hmmm, just wish i had the courage to come out. That's my problem. I'm so scared of how radically my life will change. I only just graduated from highschool and I still live with my parents.

Sinnerviewer said...

Shirley, your life won't change nearly as much if you come out now as it will if you wait. I was 38 when I came out and I can't even brgin to tell you what it cost me. Go ahead and do it now. Don't let fear of the unknown keep you from living a truthful life.

Hahn at Home said...

Shirley - While I support coming out too - it's a choice each of us has to make based on our circumstances. What's Sinnerviewer says is absolutely right - it will hurt you less if you can do it now, but always make sure you will be safe in doing so. I recommend, once you get to college (if that's where you're going) finding the campus LGBT center, or if you're not looking up LGBT resources online or in your phone book so you can receive some counseling if you have any question.

thewishfulwriter said...

I am so relieved to know that middle schoolers are feeling comfortable enough to talk about sexuality and can verbalize that there are all kinds of relationships.

For me, the fear of coming out was far worse than actually doing it. However, I can still remember how real that fear felt and how I struggled to live an honest life, one where I could live my truth and know it was going to be okay.

Kris said...

My mom and I are usually pretty open about things to each other, and it wasn't so much that I was afraid to tell her, but I never could get the words right in my head to tell her. Anyway, my mom somehow figures out everything, and asked me if I was gay, or bisexual when I was in 10th grade. (Now in my freshman year of college) She figured it out because she saw me hug one of my girlfriends and said it was different then how i hugged and looked at my friends normally. At first it caught me off guard and I immediately said "No!" ..and then realized who I was talking to, and that she knows everything. So i shook my head yes. She hugged me and said "I didn't expect it, and I don't really know what to say, I've never dealt with something like this... I support you." and went on to tell me that she loved me and so on.

Sinnerviewer said...

Kris, count your blessings! My mom denied I was gay, told me that I was having a mid-life crisis, was livid with me for telling my 2 teenagers instead of remaining in the closet and then called me a "militant lesbian bitch". We haven't spoken since.

Your mom has set an example for you to follow. I hope you have loved her and supported her right back. She sounds like a keeper.

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