I’ve never really shared my “coming out” story before, largely because it always felt like there was no story to tell. So many other experiences I’ve had, including some that came ultra close to breaking me, always felt more worthy of sharing. Though, I have yet to do much of that either.
On this 50th anniversary of Stonewall, I am again confronted with the reality of what life was like and is still like for thousands of people who identify as LGBTQ+. The irony is, over the years I often felt guilty that my “coming out” was so uneventful. In the grand scheme of things, for me, being gay was relatively benign.
What I now appreciate fully, however, is that it is not a contest of who has the worst “coming out” story, that every story has the potential to connect with and help another.
My story is one of acceptance and helps illustrate how parents can respond, that coming out doesn’t have to be painful and damaging.
It was 1991, I was 12 years old. I came upstairs from my bedroom and was standing at the kitchen sink when my Dad approached. The words from his mouth came out clear but are more murky in my memory. I do recall exactly how I felt and the energy I was feeling from him. Clearly, no part of him wanted to have this conversation. His eventual question began as a statement that dissolved into a question about her being downstairs in my room all the time. Her, being my first girlfriend. Part of me found it to be humorous that he felt the need to ask and part of me was embarrassed to have this conversation at all.
The part of the exchange that has always stayed with me and has remained crystal clear, was when he explained what appeared to be his biggest quandary with this realization; he wanted to be a grandfather. That felt like an easy blockade to hurdle, and I did so by explaining that me having kids had nothing to do with being a gay woman – those two things could co-exist. And then I carried on as if we’d discussed what kind of pizza to order that night, and he did the same. I don’t recall there being even a droplet of resentment, fear, anger or shame on account of my sexual orientation. Then or any day since.
Coming out to myself was a more profound experience than coming out to my parents. It happened in layers.
This next article is in process, it’ll be linked here when it’s complete. I’ll also move on to share what the experience of navigating business and politics as an openly gay woman has been like. The purpose is to connect with people who may also directly or indirectly be facing challenges with sexual orientation and are looking for stories to provide insights, inspiration or just some good laughs.