Archive for the ‘acceptance’ tag
It’s a funny thing, the human mind. Tell it not to do something, and it immediately does the very thing it is not supposed to do. I bet you’re thinking about elephants now. And probably asking yourself, what do elephants have to do with coming out?
Coming out is a process, like peeling back the layers of an onion, mostly because both involve a hell of a lot of tears. In my case, I had a surreal start with coming out to my family (It’s always the ones you least expect), and a rather non-event coming out to my four best friends (they could not care less, and the one I was expecting to have the biggest freak-out had known for months already.)
But early into my third year of university, less than 8 weeks after telling my family, I was approached by a professor I respected above all others and was asked to do something shocking: write an essay on what it meant for me to be gay in the United Church of Canada. I still remember the day he asked after class – my brain shut down and this voice that did not seem my own at the time immediately agreed. I had two weeks to write the essay and submit it for the class to review and discuss the following week, on my birthday of all days! And of course, I had to tie it in with the course topic, “Enlightenment and Transformation in Religion”.
Immediately I regretted my decision. I spent nearly the entire two weeks crippled with fear. Was I ready to come out publicly? What would the class say about it? Could I handle negative reactions? What do I say? For the most part, I tried to put it out of my mind, and was very successful until three days before the essay was due.
I had two courses with this professor, the other being “Death and Dying in World Religions”. On this particular day, in the “Death & Dying” class, the professor posed a question: What is it about death that you fear the most? A seemingly innocent and academic question, given the course topic; but it shattered me! I barely made it back to my dorm after that class before I broke down in fits of heart-wracking sobs.
What did I fear the most about dying? I feared I would die without anyone knowing me; die alone, unloved, anonymous; I feared dying a damned liar.
I knew what I would write. I went to my computer and allowed my heart to speak. It spoke of the elephant in the room, of being gay but being afraid to say it. It spoke of living in constant fear of being beaten, murdered, hated, unloved and alone. It spoke of the interminable pain of watching my Church struggle with, and be torn apart by hatred as it tried to bring love and acceptance to … yes, to MY people!
I was gay – not some abstract concept, but a member of a real community. And damn it, a proud member! I would not accept lip service to the goal of equality, but demand real change. And may whatever god you believe in take mercy upon you if you had a problem with it, because I was taking names and offering no mercy.
In the process I discovered that my elephant was not all that big. And that voice that was not my own that accepted the assignment was the true me, the gay me, crying to be set free. I think back on that class, and recognise now the gift that it really was.
It was my transformation, my breakthrough to a form of enlightenment, and the best birthday I had had in a long time! It was a true birth day, the day my gay self emerged into the world as a fully formed, self-aware individual who not only loved himself, but finally loved the world in which he lived.
And oddly enough, it was also the day I realised that the worst thing in the world that can happen to me is that I can die, and that is not something I fear anymore. Thanks to that amazingly wise professor (Again, thanks Eldon!), I am fearless, and free.
Oh yes – and not a negative reaction in the class. To date, I have never had anyone I encounter have a negative reaction to my sexuality. I have truly been blessed.
Today we have a coming out story from another Irish woman, who came out many years ago and is now married with cats & dog.
Coming out to myself was much easier than coming out to those I love. I had dealt with things fairly quickly but dragged my heels when it came to telling the people in my life. My worst nightmare was telling someone and have that person turn their back on me because of my sexuality.
I had reached the point were I needed to tell someone. I decided to come out to a very close friend first, a friend who I knew I could trust and who I hoped would help me on my journey. I chose someone who had been one of my best friends for years and who still is one of my best friends. Someone I loved and respected. Someone who is one of those people that everyone should have in their lives. I knew she would stand beside me, hold my hand, tell me to keep my head up and just be there for me 100%.
I chose Amy.
Once I decided this I needed to get it over with quickly before I changed my mind, so I asked Amy if she would like to go to see a football match that was being played in the next town over. Neither of us had any interest in the football match but it would give us the time to be alone to chat.
I collected her the following evening and we drove in silence to the game. I parked up, turned the engine off and swung around in my seat so I was facing her. For the next 10 minutes we spoke about everything except what I really wanted to talk about. Then the uncontrollable tears….
When Amy grabbed my hand and asked me if I was pregnant, my tears turned to laughter!
“No! I’m gay.”
“Oh. Is that all? Well give me a hug and lets go for a drink and celebrate!”
And we did just that!
Amy was my strength, my shoulder to cry on and she gave me the kick in the ass that I needed in order to get my new life on track. Amy is also the reason why I was in the George (gay bar in Dublin) that night, the night I discovered love at first sight does exist.
I first told Natalie. I was 16 and we were in an off licence (liquor store). She asked me why I was bothered by some homophobic remarks that someone we were hanging around with had made. I looked at her and told her that I was gay. She shrieked at the top of her voice, “You’re a lesbian?”. Everyone went really quiet in the shop and looked at me. I just grinned at them. Natalie soon told everyone including my two younger brothers. Dave said that he didn’t care which way my gate swung, and Dan was more concerned that I would become a vegetarian. I guess being gay is less horrifying than not eating meat to him. I made them promise not to tell my mom.
I went to Uni and still hid it from everyone. A week before my 19th birthday my mom phoned and told me that she had been talking to Dan and that he had told her something. I knew immediately what was coming next. Before I could say anything she made me promise not to kill Dan and that she already knew that I was gay. The Xena posters I had when I was younger tipped her off. I really wish she had asked me, all that worrying for nothing! She also told me that pretty much everyone on her side of the family knew as well and were fine with it. It was kinda anti climatic. In my head I had visions of her disowning me and I had planned out what I was going to say to her, I didn’t plan for this and was a little lost for words.
It wasn’t till I was about 25 that my dad told me that he knew. I knew that he knew because he knew I was living with my then-girlfriend and there was only one bedroom. We had a don’t ask, don’t tell thing going on. After I broke up with my girlfriend, I went round to my dad’s one night. We got talking and he told me that he knew, and that he had known since I was little. Growing up I had told him about various girls I wanted to marry. I was 6yrs old when wanted to marry my best friend Nicola, then when I was 8yrs old and wanted to marry one of my female teachers. The Xena posters also kinda confirmed his suspicions.
I wish that he would’ve brought it up years ago. I wish that I had the courage to bring it up. We had a serious communication breakdown. So much worrying for nothing. My dad told me he watched some program about gay people to better understand the whole ‘gay’ thing. He’s not the most open minded of people so I was a little shocked and touched that he had done that.
I’m lucky to have family and friends like this. I really thought that when they found out that I was gay they would hate me. It turns out that they all knew before I did. I wish they would’ve told me.