You may wonder why there is even a National Coming Out day when it seems that things are coming up Milhouse for those of us in the LGBT community?
It is because we still live in a society where those in the LGBT community are marginalized and looked down upon. This is changing but it is slow and filled with terrible extinction bursts that leave teenagers homeless, adults beaten, and transgendered people murdered. Until this changes, there will be a need to acknowledge that we have to come out and that it isn’t just once that we have to do this. We do this all the time and how difficult this is depends on the individual and the time and place.
This will be my fourth year out of the closet. I am glad I came out and regret that it took me so long to make the choice. So, I thought I would take a moment and share my story here on Geek Bear’s Den so that you would understand a bit about this Geek Bear and hopefully encourage others in coming out.
The impetus to come out was pushed by my own health issues four years ago. I was at 325 lbs. I had diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. I was on over eight pills for all of these conditions. I went in for a quarterly check up and was at the point that I was going to be put on insulin.
I was terrified.
I sat down and put in some time with analyzing what was keeping me in that place. I knew I didn’t want to be on shots and that there was something preventing me from improving my situation. I can be very myopic and it was no more evident than at this moment. I had used weight and health issues as a convenient way to hide that I was gay from myself and, I thought, from others.
It took a bit of time to come to this level of self-acceptance. A person incorporates the hatred they see for themselves out in society and this makes them not accept who they are and. After this epiphany, I began the work to take better care of myself as well as accept this part of me that I had kept compartmentalized and hidden away.
It was like a weight was lifted and I could breathe.
This was back in 2012. I didn’t really tell anyone that was close to me at the time. I did go to the seminar Queer as a 3 Sided Die at GenCon and began using the apps like Growlr to try and meet people.
It was not until 2013 that I decided to begin telling my friends and family.
I had a plan. The objective was to start with the people that I felt safest telling and work my way to the ones that I felt the least safest. I would tell them over dinner so that I was in a public space and would have a way out.
I was very lucky.
All of my friends who I told were very accepting. There was no need to have gone through all of the worry that I had done and the need for an escape route ended up being effort without reason. It was a relief to come through the first round of coming out with minimal repercussions.
The process of telling my parents was different. I sat them down and had the conversation about being gay. Saying their reaction to the news was different would be an understatement. My father cried and my mother said things such as “What have I done to deserve this?” “You’re going to die of AIDS!” “I can’t live with this!” They asked me to not tell my brother until they had time to process the information themselves and then told him a day later without my knowledge.
It was rough.
I came out the experience rather well.
I still had a place to work, to live, and, despite their reaction, I still had my family. There are many that are not so lucky. In the end, I only ended up losing three friends coming out. It was not easy accepting it but I realized that I was better off without them.
I also still learn about reactions to my coming out as people feel more comfortable sharing their initial reactions now or share the reactions of others with me now that time has passed. These revelations though are bit rough to take when people are revealed to have been uncomfortable around me or disgusted and then they got over it.
On this National Coming Out Day, I hope that those out there that are thinking about coming out are lucky enough to have friends that will listen to them when they let go of the fear and share the truth about themselves. I hope that they are lucky enough to be safe and supported when they take this big step. I also hope those that fear this action understand that this is okay as well. I understand that fear and know how difficult it is to overcome. I hope that they keep working on themselves so that they can overcome the fear soon enough to enjoy their life and not succumb to the fear and pain that living in the shadows can bring.
If you are still struggling with the idea of coming out, Check out the Human Right’s Campaign’s Resource Guide to Coming Out. It is a very helpful guide.