Over the years I have pondered the importance and the meaning of coming out. My own coming out story is not spectacular. It came out of necessity for sanity and a want to not hide from my family. The words seem so simple, yet I struggled to get them out. “Mom. Dad. I’m gay.” I couldn’t find the words. They escaped my lips, lost in the ether, only to be recovered by my mom who simply asked, “Do you want a boyfriend?” I simply nodded and the ice was broken.
I never came out to my dad, my mom told him for me; a moment I regret to this day. He deserved better because I respect and love my father. My parents are two of the greatest people I know. They are supportive, loving, funny, kind, and are the reason I am who I am today. I was ashamed of who I was admitting to being. I was scared of disappointing them. I was never afraid of losing them or of them. The day I came out, my parents never questioned this and never made me feel anything other than who I am. With open arms they told me all they want is for me to be happy; words that still resonate with me today.
Coming out was not a show to the world of who I am. I couldn’t care less what the world thinks of me. No, coming out was my way of inviting the world into my life. This was for me, not them. Don’t let the world dictate when you should come out. You don’t owe the world that. Invite them in when you are ready. There’s a community waiting to welcome you with open arms, just as my parents did with me.
You are loved by those around you, by those you haven’t met, and by those you will never meet. Love knows no gender. Love is love is love is love.
At 36, I look back on my life and realize the milestones I experienced are ripples in a larger pond. They don’t define me, but they help shape my journey. The first stone, bisexuality, allowed me to test the waters. It was a small ripple that eventually led to larger ones. The second stone; I'm gay. This was a larger stone, one which calmed the waters and allowed me to be me. It was around the time I met my soon to be husband when realized I was never comfortable with gay as a label. I love people of all genders and orientations. I love the person. I had to decide if I was going to drop another one stone. I’m pansexual. I never came out as pansexual (though I guess I just did) because I wanted to decide who I invited in. Coming out is a deeply personal event and everyone experiences it in some way. I truly believe this. Who do I tell and how much do I share? Is it anyone else's business? The answer...it's up to you.
To those wanting to come out:
I’m here to listen and won’t judge you. I’ve been there. I know how scary it can be. But I don’t want you to come out to me on this National Coming Out Day. Instead, I want you to invite me in and share this small part of you with me, because you are special and so is this experience. Regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity, whether you are on either end of the spectrum or somewhere in the middle, please know that how ever you identify is perfect, because you are perfect.
You are a fucking exceptional human being.