I did, in fact, come out to my parents last weekend. Nobody died, and we’re all still talking to each other, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. That being said, it wasn’t pretty either.
I’ve been trying to write about it all week. I’ve planned out posts while I’m in the shower or in the car or standing at my sink washing dishes, but to be honest it’s all still kind of a jumble. I’m hurt and sad and relieved and exhausted all at once, and I’m not ready to put it all down into a nice, linear blog post yet.
(I think I just implied that my blog posts are generally linear and logical. I’m sorry.)
The worst part about being an adult is that life doesn’t slow down for your personal nonsense, and this would have been a rough week regardless of the context. Classes started Wednesday, so I’m in the overwhelmed part of the first week of school where you feel like you have to take on the whole semester at once. The two new employees at job #1 won’t start until next week, so I had 30 hours’ worth of work and only about 15 hours to do it in. And the Fulbright proposal I’ve been working on all summer is due Sunday, so the hard bits that I’ve been procrastinating have to come together in the next couple of days.
It’s hard to do any of that when you feel like you’ve been scraped off the bottom of somebody’s shoe.
So instead of writing the deep, insightful post I want to write about last weekend, I’m going to talk about the positive parts of my coming out experience.
The first person I told was my best friend, Jac. She said, “I love you. It’s going to be okay. Are you still breathing?” (I wasn’t.)
Although LGBT friendliness was not even on my radar when I was looking for graduate schools, I ended up in an incredibly open program in an already incredibly open school so, for the most part, I’ve felt comfortable talking to my classmates, professors, and colleagues about this process. One of the professors I came out talked with me openly about her experiences as a young, queer woman and helped me find an LGBT friendly counselor to talk to. I came out to most of my school friends on the Fourth of July while we were all slightly tipsy (sangria on empty stomachs = bad idea), and it was generally a much bigger deal for me than it was for them. They celebrated with me, told me they were proud of me, and worried with me about how my parents would take it.
The second year student who started as a mentor and became one of my closest friends has been ridiculously available to me through this whole process. I came out to her in a parking lot after a work event and promptly burst into tears. We sat in her car for two hours and talked that night, and she’s been amazing about listening non-judgmentally and encouraging me to figuring out who I am and how I feel about it. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time on her couch this summer, drinking wine and playing with her puppy.
Both of the more conservative friends that I’ve come out to have been decidedly open-minded. One spent a lot of time listening to me and asking questions before settling into a firm but loving side-B stance (which was initially hard, but I’m more okay with it now). The other is Catholic and told me that, while she can’t condone my gayness, she believes that God is loving and merciful and that there is grace for all of us. We then had a half-hour chat about whether or not I’m dating and what kind of girls I like. It was a little surreal, but in a good way.
My church has been amazing. I feel so incredibly blessed to have found such a loving community to belong to. I go to one of those churches. The kind your parents warned you about. One of the interns performed in a drag show at one of the local gay clubs last week to raise money for a trans* awareness organization, and they advertised it in the church bulletin.
Last but not least, I’m incredibly grateful for the online community that talks about these issues. Within hours of finally admitting to myself that I was “not exactly straight” and that being that way would impact my life (actual words I used . . . see how far I’ve come?!), I had found Rachel Held Evans, who led me to Registered Runaway and Justin Lee, who led me to . . . all sorts of people. Before that day, I would have said it was impossible to be both gay and a Christian, but once I started looking, I quickly found an online community of faith waiting with open arms to reassure me and shepherd me through the next few months (in which I tried to ignore what I had realized and slowly lost my mind). In the weeks just before I came out, I was especially encouraged by Linda Robertson at Just Because He Breathes (this post got read a lot) and by Amy at Unchained Faith, both of whom are wonderful allies and gave me a lot of hope about my parents.
Coming out has been hard. Dealing with my parents is probably going to continue to be hard. But I have a lot of people rooting for me, and I can honestly say that my experience has been mostly positive. More importantly than what anyone else thinks, I know that acknowledging my sexuality and coming out has helped me be more at peace with myself. I’m generally more centered and confident, less anxious, and less depressed. This process has let me be at peace within myself for the first time in a long time . . . maybe the first time ever.