This February will mark 16 years since I began coming out. Half my life! I say began because I continue to come out everyday. They aren’t nearly as dramatic and terrifying as the first time, those first years, but they are a lot more measured.
There is still uncertainty and risk involved in each decision and conversation. Today, I came out at a work conference to a person at a statewide level over lunch. I had to come out at my new job, but I haven’t come out to any clients. I had to come out to Wallace’s teachers, but I don’t know how they will be handling this week’s unit on families or what they will say if a classmate asks Wallace about his dad.
Sometimes, coming out looks like a normal conversation but feels like a huge, anxiety inducing weight. I met a friend of a friend a few years ago and found out as we started talking that she had never knowingly met a gay person before. That’s a lot of pressure being the spokesperson for millions of people around the world! Sometimes, it feels freeing to spit it out and just rip the bandaid off. And doing so can even inspire others to come out to me, to trust me with a part of themselves they might not readily share, such as I had happen recently on Instagram.
Even after 16 years, I am finding microagressions of homophobia flung in my face not unlike the pop bottle I had thrown at me from a car along with the insult “dyke!” (No, it’s not always an insult, but it can be used as a weapon.) Sometimes the homophobia is slipped into conversations and interactions like the negative treatment I received at my first midwife practice when I told them I am gay. And there are times I don’t realize it happened until after the fact, such as when I wanted to be a LLL leader and was told that as a single parent by choice I would not qualify (this is not LLL policy, but I chose not to report the leader or make a fuss). It wasn’t until I was in the car, explaining the interaction to a friend that she affirmed my experience and gave it words.
There is no coming out day for me, because everyday I have to come out or decide not to.