Jewish kids have Mitzvahs, both Bar and Bat. Mexican heritage offers the Quinceañera. Americans do the Sweet Sixteen thing. When I came out as a lesbian, the reception I got was like none of those things. So I’d like the LGBT community to come up with something more like a celebration for coming out. Something like the Independence Day thing, or that New Year’s Eve thing. Or maybe just make it a rite of passage, where the honoree is…well, honored. Instead, what we get in coming out is usually a bullshit conversation.
The basic conversations (in my lesbian experience) are:
- Tolerance: “Oh, you’re gay…well, you’re still our daughter, so I guess we’ll learn to live with it.”
- I Knew It All Along: “It’s about time, we were just waiting for you to figure it out.”
- The God Talk: “Oh hell no, neither your mother nor I (nor God!) authorized this behavior, young lady! You’re on a slippery slope…”
- Hey Everyone, Did You Hear ____’s Gay: “We know you’re gay, so we’re not gonna wait for you to tell people, we’re gonna out you in the most public and humiliating was as possible.”
- Shock (AKA WTF?!): “OMG! WTF?! No way! But you’re so pretty…”
- Denial: “You’re not gay, you just haven’t found the right guy yet.”
And there are probably 100 more not-celebration conversations around our initial coming out, but I don’t have time for that here. What I do have time for is how it should be done. Now, I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for me. Finally.
There would be friends. There would be family. There would be relatives. There would be co-workers. There would be strangers. There would be a band and some champagne. Imagine New Year’s Eve. Where you celebrate the end of the year past and look forward to the new year to come. There would be laughter. There would be fun. There would be a section over in the corner for toys. Hey, it’s not that every girl who likes girls needs toys. But it would be nice to start out knowing that A) they’re there, and B) there’s nothing wrong with using them should both parties agree to have fun.
There would be a little ceremony about the right to speak and act as a human with human emotions, human love, and human compassion for those who don’t understand us.
There would be a commitment ceremony to honor pride in oneself, one’s heritage, and one’s future.
There would be a Big Gay Closet for one to come out of, complete with cargo shorts, AE Outfitters gear, Chapstick, an array of flip-flops and Doc Martens, and a plethora of hats and visors on the shelf.
And by God (or Buddha or Allah or Ellen), there would be celebration. A celebration of oneself, and of all the possibilities in one’s future. A celebration of hope. A celebration of Pride. A celebration of our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. A celebration of life, in all its expressions.
Where I come from, (umm…the same place you came from) coming out should be a celebration. And I think it’s high time we start treating it as such. Are you in?
Dian Reid is a Certified Professional Life Coach in Long Beach, CA. She works with the LGBT community in coming out and being authentic in your every day life. When she’s not coaching fabulous people, she’s walking her dog in cargo shorts, Chapstick and blue baggie in tow.