Coming Out. The big C-O.
It’s super fun to sit awkwardly across from someone and tell them that you are “the gay.” My personal approach has included the fine art of stuttering/stammering, avoided eye contact and a general lack of grasp on basic human interaction.
It has been a blasty blast, letmejusttellyou.
Luckily, I have had overall successful responses from my listeners. My favorite response is “oh- I/we totally knew you were the gay.” An overwhelmingly consistent response that made me wonder why everyone knew it but forgot to tell me. At first, I felt like I was the last person in on a cosmic-ly important secret that everyone was whispering to each other on the regular. I have since recovered from that narcissism and realized that my friends have loved me for a long time- long enough to know that I needed space to self-actualize and discover my identity on my own. Even though it feels like the process took longer than necessary sometimes, I am grateful for its slow and intentional unraveling that has kept me much more grounded and self-aware.
That, and I have a kick ass therapist. And copious, copious amounts of unconditional love.
So- back to the actual “telling” process. For me, as a person of faith in a portion of the country known for belting people with the Bible, working for an institution with clear and unaffirming guidelines on the topic of same-sex attraction… I was a littler more than nervous about the responses I would receive even from people I had known for multiple years.
Throughout my process, I had become that person who shifts through every word, every context clue trying to figure out where my friends stood on the topic. And I had to be sneaky about it- couldn’t just bring it up casually- had to be subtle and coy. And if you know me, I am not the coyest fish in the pond. But I learned to observe. Body language, verbiage, tones. I was an expert on picking up subtle groans of disgust or the uncomfortable shifts at the mention of “homosexuality.” I began to separate people out- the safe from the unsafe. The people that would reject me from the ones that wouldn’t.
And once my list was made, I decided to take that next step. Choosing to tell certain people about where I was at in this process of discovering my sexuality. A carefully selected crew of folks that would be subjected to my “dirty little secret.”
The trickiest part was that everyone was a wild card in my mind. No matter how long I had known someone or how consistent their love had been, I was holding in my hands a beast of a different kind. A more fragile, potentially explosive piece of knowledge that has been known for years to be the source of hatred, rejection, loss, etc. A different kind of grenade where the pull of the pin could either clear away the rubble or pile more cement and ash and dust and whatever damaging debris onto my already burdened heart.
It’s dramatic because it has to be. Because it’s a risk. Because you just. Don’t. Know. It wont make complete sense to you unless you have felt its weight.
I have already talked about the responses being positive, so I don’t want to dwell on the specifics of each telling other than to say that more often than not, my stammering and red face and beating, POUNDING heart was met with patient silence and then overwhelming love and affirmation.
I am lucky that I haven’t had a truly damaging response, though I assume those will come by the dozens. But I am grateful that there are ten souls who were more than just guinea pigs in my experiment, but people that set a precedence for how I could move more confidently forward knowing that no matter the crap that lies before me, I can always look back and around me at the ten faces who have loved me well. And, have sometimes made fun of me for being worried about telling them because that’s what good friends do.
I hope that you have had some good experiences yourself or will allow yourself to be a good experience for your friends. They sure could use it.