Thursday, October 11, 2007

National Coming Out Day

Last night, I was writing a post about why I wasn't going to come out to anyone new for National Coming Out Day. I had lots of excuses: it seems pointless when I'm single, I've been date-free for so long that I'm really more asexual than lesbian, and, mostly, I'm afraid. Not afraid of physical harm or anything so dramatic, but afraid of rejection, of having someone I love telling me I wasn't welcome in their home, that they didn't want anything to do with me. As I wrote the paragraph saying that I was afraid to come out to anyone in my family besides the three who have known for years, I typed the following sentence:

I suppose I should have more faith in the people I love.

And I sat there and stared at that sentence for a long, long time and thought about it. Really thought about it.

Coming out isn't about stirring up trouble or making some kind of statement. It's about honesty. The point of National Coming Out Day, I think, is not about making more straight people realize there are gays in their lives. It's really for the gay people. It's about overcoming our fears and breaking holes in the often very thick, very high walls we've built around our hearts. It's about healing the wounds we've given ourselves.

So I decided that I would come out to one person. One member of my family who I love dearly and wish I could be closer to. I paced the floor and stared at the phone. I picked it up and put it down several times. I remember looking at the clock and thinking that if I procrastinated long enough, it would be bedtime and I'd be off the hook.

Finally, I managed to actually dial the number and call my stepsister. After some hemming and hawing and false starts, I told her I was gay. She was great. She said it didn't matter to her one way or the other, and I'd always be welcome with her.

I can not describe the relief I felt. The relief of knowing that no matter what, I am loved and welcome. The relief of learning that my fears were unfounded.

Pushing past my fear like that was emotionally exhausting. I'm not about to rush forward and come out to everyone else in my family right away. It may be another year, or two, or ten, before I can build the courage back up for the next one.

But for now, I have healed one wound in my heart, and I am a little more free.

Happy National Coming Out Day, everyone. May your lives be filled with love and your fears proven baseless.


sectheatre said...

Great big hugs to you. I am so happy for you. I almost cried.

Kelly said...

Oh Anj, my heart hurts reading this. The first paragraph anyway. I know it isn't the same, but always remember that your friends are the family you choose, not the family you are born into. I'm glad your step-sister was so accepting, and that one wound has healed. I personally cannot understand why anyone who knows you could not love and accept you for you, just the way you are. I hope as you make your choices to come out all your family proves to be as accepting and loving.

Anj said...

To clarify, no one in my family has ever been anything but loving toward me. The fear is, "If they knew the real me, would that change the way they feel?" Although a few people in my family have made anti-gay comments on occasion, most of them never talk about their feelings about homosexuality one way or the other, so I really have no clue how they would react. Among the four family members I've come out to (yes, only four in fifteen years), reactions have ranged the gamut from, "Well duh, I figured that out years ago. What are we having for dinner?" to, "It's not natural. You need counseling." I've never been kicked out of anywhere. However, every gay person has heard story after story about other gays who have been thrown out or disavowed by their families, so the fear is always in the back of the mind, "It could happen to me." Anyway, my point is, my deeply internalized, irrational fears are probably greater than any reaction from my family could ever merit. I am my own worst enemy.