Over Christmas I was asked by my mother-in-law about my “coming-out experience,” and I had to stop for a minute and think about how to answer the question.
Coming out to my friends was messy. Some embraced me, and some disappeared. Some even told me I was going to hell.
Coming out to my family was uncomfortable and complicated. I didn’t handle it well, and alienated myself from them in ways that I now regret. They’ve warmed to it somewhat and our relationships have evolved in ways that surprise me sometimes. When my sister talks about Ryan as her brother it warms my heart, but at the same time my folks will still introduce him as my “friend” to other people. (The “friend” that got invited to my father’s retirement from the Air Force, so there is that.)
But when I think about “coming out,” I don’t think about it as something that is somewhere in my past. I think of it as something I do every day.
-When a customer at work asks me if I’m married when they see the ring on my finger, do I go along with them and smile, or do I point out that I’m not allowed to be married?
-When I start working in a new place, how do I bring up the person I go home too? Do I talk about what “I” or “we” watched on television last night?
The gay rights movement is often compared to the civil rights movement in the middle part of the last century, and there is pushback by some that our struggles aren’t the same. And to a degree that’s true, although maybe not as some would think.
You can’t usually tell someone is gay at a glance. (sometimes, you can) That person usually has to do something to “come out” to you for you to know. And that “something” is every day a little bit terrifying, because I never know how the other person will react. So far I’ve been pretty lucky. Not everyone is.
I don’t know that this post had a point, just thoughts rolling around in my head. What does “out” mean to you?