Real talk time.
I first came out to my parents about a year and a half ago. And I am so grateful for how they reacted. The first thing my mom did was tell me she loved me, and my dad just shrugged and said it was fine. Coming out to my children, wasn’t as hard, but they reacted well too, and I have never been closer to these, the most important people in my life.
And I’m grateful, I want to reiterate that. I was scared to death to do it, but once it was done … everything was better than great. So, once again, I am grateful.
But part of me is pissed.
Not at them, at myself.
Because I knew I was gay when I was thirteen years old. I did not want to admit that to myself, so I convinced myself that this was a choice I could make and that I chose to be straight. Spoiler alert: it is not a choice. So I thought that if I let anyone know the truth about me, they would reject me. I could lose everybody in my life. And this was the eighties and nineties. There wasn’t a lot of media available to me about happy gay people. Everything I saw showed how miserable LGBT people were. And I wanted no part of that. So I shoved myself in the closet and bit down hard on my true self. I wanted a family, and children, and to do that I needed to be straight. So I lived in the closet until I was forty-six, hardly daring to admit the truth even to myself. And I prayed. I prayed so hard, guys, to be straight. That prayer was not answered, and that fact seriously shook my faith. I was so miserable for so long …
And now I find out that it would have been fine all along? That I could have just been gay this entire time and people would have adjusted? What was all the pain for, why all the drama? And now to know I did that to myself for no reason?
So, here’s my advice, to non lgbt+ people. If there is someone in your life who you suspect might be gay or trans, please please find a way to let them know that it will be fine if they come out to you. Don’t force them out of the closet, just make a comment that lets them know you love them no matter what. Find a way to let them know you accept them for who they are, whatever that turns out to be. I spent a lot of time in the closet, hating myself unnecessarily, long past the time that was reasonable.
Granted, me coming out to my parents after I had already given them two grandchildren versus me coming out at 13 might have been a different story. They probably would have had a harder time with it. But I still could have given them grandchildren if I’d been myself. It might have been a harder adjustment, but they would have adjusted.
So, if you are an ally, let the people in your life know. You never know who might be listening, and how much that will mean to them.