Monday, October 11, 2010

As to be in plain sight

My coming out history is complicated, like many people who have been in and out of the closet because of the ex-gay movement. I had come out initially in my early 20s, then was back in the closet four years later, where I had another kind of coming out to do. This kind was perhaps even harder, coming out as gay (or ex-gay) among conservative Christians. Then, when it was all over - when I began to come to my senses - I entered into another round of coming out that might have been the hardest of all.

In the last 7 years, I've had a lot of big coming out moments - this blog that I started 5 years ago last week, the Glamour articles in French and English, the Good Morning America piece, and so on and so forth. You'd think the whole world would just know by now, wouldn't you and that I'd get to rest a bit?

However, coming out is still something I do on a weekly, even sometimes daily, basis. I have a choice to make all the time. How honest and authentic will I allow myself to be on this day? How uncomfortable will the other person be if I am authentic? How uncomfortable will I be with their discomfort? How safe will I be if I am out?

When Theresa and I are in a store and they automatically assume we must be related, instead of partners, what do we do? Do I say, "oh, she's not my sister; she's my partner" or let it slide? When the sales clerk asks for what occasion are we buying these nice clothes, do I answer that it's for our wedding? The assumption is always that I'm straight, until I say (or do) something differently. And I'm not OK with that always being the assumption.

So why do I feel the need to be out, even when I don't have to be out everywhere I go? Why do Theresa and I act like any other couple when we're out in public (a touch on the shoulder, an affectionate look or a term of endearment), instead of hiding our love away so that others feel more comfortable?

Because being out is not an option for too many people still. Because not being out is not an option for a lot of other people. Because teens who are being bullied and feel so alone need to know they're not. Because I'm happy to be exactly who I am.

In related news, this last Friday Theresa and I finally got our engagement photos done. This is one of our favorites.


Photo by Daniel Gonzales.

12 comments:

  1. Beautiful picture!

    I get what you mean. My wife and I feel the same way. We hate when we're written off as "friends." (We look far too different for most people to assume we're sisters.) We try to be gentle but firm: "Oh, that's my wife." "My wife asked for a *Diet* Pepsi," etc. I think as long as our society is the way it is, we have to keep coming out, keep coming out, keep coming out. I think if we don't test the limits of our freedom, our freedom remains limited.

    Of course, there are practical limits. Just now, I wrote about homophobic stuff I saw on TV yesterday. I mentioned how when they go to the sports events they love, a friend of mine, a bisexual father married to another man, warns his young daughter to refer to his husband by his first name or as his friend, not as his husband or her stepdad. The guys are big and can hold their own in a fight, but they can only hold off so many. It's really sad that we have to think about these things. I'm grateful we're in America in the 21st century and not, say, in Rwanda or Saudi Arabia or 1910, but there's still so much work to be done.

    I'm glad you're around to help do it. :-)

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  2. Beautiful picture and beautifully written piece.

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  3. What most people do not realize is that coming out is not an event, but a process. We are continually coming out and we always have to calculate as you said, should I let it slide or should I say something. Last week, I was standing behind an old friend from high school in a check-out lane and I was debating whether I should tell him or not. I decided that it was neither the time nor place to come out to him, I just didn’t feel like going into Trans 101 then.

    As a trans-woman, I am often asked what we have in common with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and my answer is, coming out. We all share the common experience of coming out to our family and friends. We all know what it was like to summon up our courage to say, “Mother, Dad, I have something to tell you.”

    Many trans-women and men do not pass, so for them they are out 24/7. Whenever they go out in public they are always being identified as transgender and that means being in constant danger. You never know how someone is going to react to your being trans.

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  4. About the time I think the whole world must surely know that I'm a lesbian, I encounter someone in my smaller world who didn't know.

    You are courageous every time you speak out, every time you come out. You speak not only for yourself, for the the many who cannot yet do so themselves.

    Thank you for sharing your journey, Christine. I look forward to seeing you and Theresa in January.

    Blessings!

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  5. I love this blog. I came out at 15 and faced so much hate, that I decided to do what my family wanted and "pray away the gay". 19-25 I was ex-gay, and even engaged to a man. I was fired from a ministry position when the pastor found out I "used to be gay". After many months of praying and having a crisis of faith, and then meeting an amazing person, I had to come out all over again. It has been so hard to work the the shame and guilt I have built up, along with the self-hatred... But somehow my family took it WAY better this time. I have also found a wonderful church. Just wanting on my oldest brother to come around.

    Congrats on the engagement!

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  6. Thank you for all you do, Christine. You (and Theresa) continue to pave the way...

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  7. So sorry about the assumptions. Even though I have many gay/lesbian friends and am welcoming/affirming/whatever, I probably do the same thing far too often -- and for that, I apologize. Of course, I'm probably equally guilty of assuming many straight same-gender twosomes are a couple and not the siblings or friends that they are, so maybe it cancels out ;0)

    I LOVE the photo. Hope to see the others.

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  8. Fantastic photo! :-)

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  9. You can just see the love you two have. It just glows all around you. Thank you for sharing that and congratulation on your upcoming nuptuals.

    I'm doing research for a novel I'm writing, that's how I found your blog. Please keep sharing. It's just so important!

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  10. I wear a rainbow wristband practically all the time, for this very reason. I've been surprised to discover how many people have no idea what it means.

    TRiG.

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  11. Christine - thank you for blogging over the years. I remember when you first started it, and my blog had a similar title.

    I just started blogging again after a hiatus, and one of them is called "Soulfully Gay." If you're moved, I hope you'll check it out.

    I see it's been a while since your last post & I hope you are well & will be back one day.

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  12. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

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