Friday, October 11, 2013

on coming out day

I have a lot to say about coming out. But if I was to strip my experience down to a single word, I would describe the act of coming out very simply as hard.

I’ve been coming out for the better part of 18 years and it’s still hard. There are days when coming out is like accidentally opening a portal to Narnia. There are also days when it's more like a barefoot trip to Mordor.

In both cases, you’re really just battling different versions of how you see yourself -  fantastical and horrific. And then if it’s necessary, you draw on your arsenal of weapons to soften or block the blows that come your way: humour, nonchalance, silence, wit, and the choice to simply walk away. 

Sometimes you get lucky and you return from the epic journey unscathed, and with lifelong friends whose help you couldn’t do without. Other times, you return to yourself scarred and unrecognizable and choosing to heal is Everest in and of itself – if you’re lucky enough to emerge as victor to the episode.

This is my experience, anyway. I've been on both ends of these epic spectrums, as well as many places in between. I can say that I have survived my coming out stories with exhales of tremendous relief. Until, of course, the next time.

Because there is always a next time. Every day is Coming Out Day in my world: moments where I clarify that I have a wife and not a husband; instances where I find myself compelled to tell a stranger that my children have no father but they have 2 mothers.

Every time is a test. Every time, I make a decision to screw my courage to the sticking place and to mine own self be true.  Because there is no way I am gong to miss an opportunity to lead by example so that my children will know what to say and how to act when they inevitably have to come out to their friends about their queer family. Every time, I hold my breath. Every time, I brace myself to block a negative reaction. Sometimes I do myself proud. Other times, at the worst of it, I overshare and regret it. But overall, I count myself among the lucky because in this country, I have every right to say that I am a lesbian in any given context. 

This morning, I kissed my family and wished them a Happy Coming Out Day.

If you or someone you know has ever had a coming out experience and if you've ever helped someone through the process – small as a comic strip or large as a fight against Voldemort – take a moment and give your courage a nod of acknowledgement. Happy Coming Out Day to you, too.

The use of upper and lower case letters is brought to you by a dear friend and neighbour who I've been irritating has requested that I pretty please start doing so. For you, Alyssa. :)