“I am brave, I am bruised. I am who I’m meant to be, this is me”
– “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”
A couple nights ago I attended the “Coming Out Monologues” in Portland with my good friend Dylan (pictured on the right). We listened to stories of those who are gay, lesbian, and trans as they vulnerably shared their journey of coming out. We heard from parents who shared stories of love for their child who came out to them. One parent shared the story of her trans daughter who knew about her gender identity when she was 2 ½ years old. She then invited her courageous now 12-year-old daughter up to share her own story of transition and coming out while being a pre-teen. Throughout the evening there were many moments of laughter, tears, hope, and real-world realities brought to light.
Today is a day of mixed emotions for many. We celebrate our coming out stories. We remember the pain of the journey it took to get to that point and the pain that has happened since. With stomach in knots, tears flowing, fear suffocating, and a new sense of freedom, many choose to come out on this day. While others wonder if one day, they too will be able to fully live as themselves among their family, friends, co-workers, classmates, and strangers in society. Meanwhile there are those who just aren’t sure and are still trying to figure out what their orientation and/or identity is. That’s okay. Questioning is okay. Experimenting is okay. Studying the varied expressions of orientation and/or identities to see if one is right for you is okay. YOU are okay. Figure it out in your time, no one else’s. Maybe your experience doesn’t resonate with what I’ve mentioned here. Maybe you feel who you are is no one else’s business. No matter how you choose to come out or when or if you do, know that you are loved. You are respected. By me, and by many kickass amazing people that I know!
For me, it was three years ago today that I decided to come out as bisexual. I remember the sense of peace I felt by making that decision. I then remember the fear and trepidation that immediately followed as I processed the journey ahead of me that would lead to my actual coming out 2 months later on December 5th. I was fortunate to have a lot support along the way. Yes, dumb things were said to me. Harmful things were said to me. Some of that I am still processing while for others, I offer grace because I know that it comes from a lack of understanding. Understanding that comes from being in relationship with people like me. I reflect back and am grateful for my friend Tamara who spent most of the day with me as I clicked “post” on my blog and shared it on my social media platforms and via email to colleagues, family, and friends. She sat near me as comments and messages of love poured in. I am grateful for the many in my tribe who supported me during my journey of coming out and only hope that others can have the same. Know that if you are reading this and holding within a secret about your identity and/or orientation, I am here for you just as my friends were there for me.
For those who don’t ever need to come out, please celebrate this with us. Don’t tell us that you wish we didn’t have to come out. On the day we do, that is the truth that doesn’t need to be spoken at that time for it minimizes just how it important that day is in our lives. Unless we ask, don’t tell us that you knew all along. Don’t talk about yourself unless you are, or have been, in a similar place. Listen to our story. Celebrate it. Remind us that we are loved. Commit to helping change a culture that, even with nuggets of equality, still oppresses and marginalizes those within the LGBTQIA+ community. Create safe spaces for journeys to be explored and declarations to be lived out! When friends, family, and strangers use slurs against us or talk harshly about who we are, speak out and shut them down on our behalf. Help them to understand God’s love for ALL people. And understand this, whether our coming out anniversary is today or another day, we now have to “come out” everyday of our life. It is not something relegated to one day in our story. It is a story that repeats itself daily in one way or another. This means that the pain within our story is lived out on repeat as well.
Today is a day of celebration but it’s also a day of pain for many. So, while we celebrate the all those who claim their truth publicly, let us remember the many who are still trying to figure out their story or who don’t feel safe enough yet to come out.
And to all the loving, supportive people who are a part of my story, thank you.