Saturday was National Coming Out Day, which I missed because I was too busy hunting down the only fall color we have in this area – high up in the mountains, hidden within valleys and off the sides of trails. A handful of maples were just starting to turn and we caught the tail end of an aspen forest’s yellow display.
I didn’t know there was a national day for these sorts of things when I first came out, but I wouldn’t have waited for a specific day. I’ve since never really made use of the day, aside from occasionally noticing it as it flew past. That doesn’t diminish its importance – it’s just never been important to me.
I haven’t seen anyone actually come out this weekend who wasn’t already out, but I have seen a lot of stories of past revelations. I’ve enjoyed reading those stories and mostly seeing just how much we have in common through them. As well as being humbled and feeling grateful that my own experiences coming out over the years were less than exciting.
Over all, coming out was pretty easy for me. It is an ongoing, never-ending process, of course, because even if you’re as out as a unicorn vomiting rainbows, there’s still that awkward moment with anyone new in your life that spans between you not knowing whether they know (or care) and you knowing very firmly that they know. I’ve dealt with this awkward and tense moment over the years by getting very good about bringing up my wife earlier and earlier. I’ve done it so many times now that there’s barely any hesitation any more, and only a brief flash of oh god what if they care.
I’ve found that, in my life and where I’ve lived, most people don’t care. But I am also very lucky to have lived in liberal areas for the most part. The only trouble I’ve ever had was with some super conservative parts of my family, but even they have been courteous and polite, and we still talk if forced into the same room. I rather think all our other differences get in the way much more than my being queer.
Frankly, the hardest time I had coming out was to my parents, and that was because I wasn’t sure what to expect. They’re loving people, and I knew I wouldn’t get thrown out of the house like I’d heard happen to other friends, but considering the kinds of comments made about gay and trans people at the dinner table… well. I’d figured out I wasn’t straight in my junior year of high school, but it wasn’t until my first year of college that I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies with mom and blurted out to her that I liked girls. She cried. I cried. But it was mostly because we were both startled. She hugged me and then she said she’d tell dad, which I am still so grateful for.
And you know what my dad said? The man I was afraid of telling because he is very conservative, enjoys listening to Rush Limbaugh, and makes trans- and homophobic jokes? He said that I was his daughter and he loved me. And since then I haven’t heard a single homophobic joke come out of his mouth and he and my mother both have changed their attitude about gay marriage.
I hate that the way I have chosen to live my life is inherently political. I hate having to come out again and again and again. But then I remember how much its changed my own family’s perception of LGBTQA issues and people, and I know it’s worth it. Even being out to that random person in the store or at work is enough to put a human face on us.