Coming Out

For this blog, I pulled out the trusty, sanctimonious soapbox. I feel good on it…makes me feel taller.

I was brushing my teeth, counting…as usual.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.”

Switch.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.”

Switch.

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.”

I did this in the front and back of each side of my mouth. Brushing teeth is a counting thing.

I sometimes count out things. Particularly in fives. It makes me focus and slows my mind. I’m OK with this.

I finished my ritual, spit the toothpaste out, came up from the sink, and caught my eyes in the mirror. I was staring at my reflection when I started to laugh. Laugh is a strong word. I scoffed – yeah, scoffed – and whispered to myself, “Holy shit. I’m gay.”

Just like that. It struck me.

Now, at this point, I was 25 and married. To a man. So, this revelation at this time was…umm…less than awesome.

But the immediate calm I felt when I said it out loud was amazing.

We all have coming out stories. (Well, not ALL of us, but at least 10% of us.) Some of them are significantly more interesting than mine – nothing like a story that starts with brushing your teeth and revealing you’ve got a bit of the OCD.

I don’t share this as a “Coming Out Story.” I’ve been out. By 26, everyone I knew was aware that I was A Gay. I don’t hide it now. (Well, some might say I couldn’t if I wanted to – my hair gives it away. The lesbian faux hawk…what are you gonna do?) I don’t announce my gayness, rather I simply live my life as normal because there is nothing unusual with who I am…well, I’m unusual, but not because I’m gay. I mean, quite frankly, my need to count things is more unusual than my gayness.

So, why share it?

The “Coming Out Story” has haunted many the gay. Most recently, Jodie Foster, in what is arguably the most rambling speech I’ve heard in a while, came out as “single” during the Golden Globes, prompting a slew of responses, including one from George “It’s OK To Be” Takei. Rupert Everett, (remember him? “My Best Friend’s Wedding”…L.O.V.E. him) said do not come out, come out wherever you are.  Victor Garber is all sorts of gay.

The problem with the “Coming Out Story” is that it doesn’t change you, but it can change everyone around you. By that I mean, you don’t change, but the perception other people have of you might.

In fact, I recently had a coming out of sorts with a couple of pals. The conversation went something like this…

——————

Pal #1: (fishing in her chip bag for the crumbs) Are you gonna be gay?

Me: Umm…what?

Pal #1 looks at Pal #2 concerned. Pal #2 encourages her to ask me again.

Pal #1: Are you gonna be gay?

Oh, I forgot to set the story. Pal #1 is 7-years-old and recently had a conversation with her mom about what “gay” was. That conversation ended like so:

7-Year-Old: Do I know anyone who is gay?

Mom: Yep. Molly.

7-Year-Old: Awesome.

Then, they went back to watching TV. Pal #2 is her 10-year-old sister. So…

Pal #1: Are you gonna be gay?

She continues to eat her chips. I think she’s interested in my answer, but I’m not sure. I think she’d rather just eat her chips.

Me: Umm…I AM gay. Yes.

Pal #1: But you aren’t married.

Me: OK. But if I was gonna get married, it would be to a girl.

No reason to discuss marriage equality right now.

Pal #2: Well, you don’t seem gay.

Me: Interesting…what would make me seem gay?

Pal #2: Well, I thought gay meant three things: if you were a boy, you like boys and if you were a girl, you liked girls; that you were always happy; and that if you were a boy, you dressed like a girl and if you were a girl, you dressed like a boy.

Me: OK. Well, yes to the first point. And sometimes, to the last two.

Pal #2: You don’t dress like a boy.

Me: No.

No need to discuss sexual identity at this point.

Pal #2: You’re pretty happy.

Me: Generally, yes.

Gay. Happy. Duh.

Pal #2: And you like girls…?

Me: Yep.

Pal #2: OK.

“OK”…as though that is that.

Me: Is that OK?

Pal #2: Yeah.

I look at her younger sister.

Me: How ‘bout you? All cool?

Pal #1: Yep.

“Yep”…as though that is that. Then…

Pal #1: Can I have more chips?

And that was that.

—————

So maybe sometimes when you come out, it doesn’t change anything…it just makes you hungry for chips.

In a recent conversation with a straight friend (I only identify him as such to illustrate this point), he was adamant about the need for gay people to come out – “this is your civil rights movement. Own it. Demand equality.”

I am lucky. I don’t have the scary story of my family turning their backs on me. I have always just treated my “gayness” as just a piece of my life, but something about the way he said it resonated.

Somehow, it is my job to demand you treat me equally. There is something inherently unfair in that.

mlk

Today, as we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded of this quote: “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

He spoke a lot about silence.

Indeed, in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he wrote, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men…”

So, friends, on a day that celebrates the legacy of a man who dared to dream, and on the day when we see an African American sworn in for his second term, I ask for your voice. I will continue to come out – that is my contribution to the change. But I ask that you have your own Coming Out…as an advocate, as an ally, as a friend.

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5 thoughts on “Coming Out

  1. I’m out! I advocate for you, for me, for my 6 yr old who doesn’t yet know what kind of life he wants but deserves the right to choose!

    One question: I count things too… Does this mean I’m gay?

  2. Gay. Straight. Who the F cares? You’re just Molly. Do you think different of me because I don’t count things?

  3. Pingback: MLK | San Antonio Charter Moms

  4. Pingback: The peace of coming out to family and how to do it – Tyler Lehmann

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