Less­en­ing the burden of coming out

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

One of the most frus­trat­ing things about coming out — even in th­ese most con­tem­porar­ily ac­cept­ing times of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity since Je­sus was spread all over the globe to ban it — is that the en­tire risk, burden and fall­out al­ways rests with us. No mat­ter the per­son’s re­ac­tion, we have to be the ones pre­pared for anger or tears or big­otry. We are the ones who have to worry about be­ing hit, or be­ing thrown out of our homes, or los­ing our fam­ily mem­bers.

I had two at­tempts at coming out: the first one shot a blank and I wish I had pushed it harder, but I re­treated from my pub­lic self be­cause I was scared of what my life would be like with­out the peo­ple and things in it that I was scared to lose. I was threat­ened, my spine turned to mush and I spent a fur­ther 10 years lead­ing two sep­a­rate lives. The peo­ple I was do­ing this for … their lives changed not a whit. This was much eas­ier for them than it was for me. I was left hold­ing the bag. The en­tire bag. Ev­ery con­se­quence af­fected me in some man­ner.

Even when I came out the sec­ond time, I still felt bad and guilty and mis­er­able, while I was com­pletely and 100 per­cent in the right. I did noth­ing wrong and still felt like it was my fault some peo­ple were up­set. At a ripe 34 years of age I wish I could tell my younger self that this wasn’t my shit to deal with, that peo­ple who hate us must work it out them­selves. That me want­ing to live my life how I wish to su­per­sedes whether other peo­ple hate LGBT peo­ple or not.

I was re­minded of how I felt dur­ing those times when, last week, one of my best friends in the world was ask­ing me whether or not she should ap­proach her teenage son about his sex­ual iden­tity. My first re­ac­tion was to get all up in her face about let­ting him do what he wanted, when he wanted with­out push­ing him at all, in spite of the fact that she has cre­ated an in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment for both her chil­dren, who have known many LGBT peo­ple their en­tire lives.

But upon reflection, I re­al­ized she was try­ing to take some of the burden off him. I don’t know many moth­ers of teenage sons, so this was a first for me: watch­ing a mother try to lessen the load of coming out from some­one who, as all of us who read this pa­per can un­der­stand, was forced to carry it.

Those of us who have been out for a long time might for­get how in­cred­i­bly risky it is to come out. When it is done it can­not be un­done, and even in the safest fam­ily and so­cial en­vi­ron­ments there is jus­ti­fi­able para­noia. She tried to al­le­vi­ate some of that for her child, and I was over­come with grat­i­tude on his be­half. My coming out was dif­fi­cult and hor­ri­ble, and I still had it easy com­pared to many, many mem­bers of our LGBT fam­ily. A par­ent try­ing to take some of that pres­sure off their child? Well, if I could par­ent like that, I would give my­self an A.

“At a ripe 34 years of age, I wish I could tell my younger self that this wasn’t my shit to deal with, that peo­ple who hate us must work it out them­selves. That me want­ing to live my life how I wish to su­per­sedes whether other peo­ple hate LGBT peo­ple or not.”

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