In honor of National Coming Out Day, we have decided to share condensed versions of our coming out processes with you. Please enjoy!
Rachel: I started to come out to myself and my friends in the last year of college/first year of graduate school. I definitely fell in love with a girl about the minute I hit puberty, but I didn't really understand that my feelings for her were more than "really wanting to be her best friend." I had many of these friendships that tore up my heart in a number of gruesome ways, until I started to realize that this condition was not going to disappear one morning and I would suddenly desire all things male.
Growing up in a very conservative (as I was growing up, I didn't feel particularly conservative, now I realize just how right of center I was) household, I was encouraged to avoid any form of sexual conduct, so it never occurred to either of my parents that I might be following their rules by pining after my female friends. As I began the process of accepting myself, the looming specter of coming out to my parents and getting them to understand the process I've been through became more menacing. I finally began to transform that amorphous fear into a reality I could face when Kristl and I became serious. The fact that I was hiding a major part of my life from my parents was wearing on me, and I am terrible at lying, so it become nearly impossible for me to cover up the intimate relationship between us.
I came out to my parents just over a year ago, and the conversation definitely changed the way we relate. Now, every conversation has a barely concealed layer of tension, which occasionally surfaces in the form of my mother impatiently explaining scripture to me, and asking me what I am telling God. So, as far as being a candidate for the "It Gets Better" campaign, my application would be fairly incomplete. My parents have not had any impressive breakthroughs or a-ha moments, but I am holding out hope for them. I do have supportive extended family members, and as you'll read below, Kristl's mom is more than willing to bring on a "second daughter."
Coming out was hugely important to my personal development. I have nothing to hide from my parents or anyone else. It lifted a weight off my shoulders, and gave me the courage to move forward with marriage to my life partner and my best friend.
Kristl: Well, my coming out story is a little (a lot) different from Rachel's. I grew up in a liberal, rather non-religious family. I pretty much always knew I was interested in women, but didn't feel the need to "come out" unless I was actually in a serious relationship. That didn't happen until I was 27. A friend of a friend pursued me and I went with it. While it wasn't perfect by any stretch, I felt a much deeper connection than I'd felt with the few men that I'd dated. She was the first woman I dated and within a month or so, I felt compelled to officially come out to my mom. I was super nervous, even though my mom is incredibly progressive and open-minded. I called her on the phone and it went something like this:
Me, crying because I'm so nervous: "Mom, I'm dating someone and it's a woman."
Her, unable to understand me through the tears: "You're dating someone and you love him?"
Me: "No, it's a woman!"
Her: "Oh, that's okay, honey! You know, you don't need a man to have a family. Also, your sister and I were just talking about how we thought you might be gay."
Later that night, I spoke with my sister and told her what our mom had said, to which she responded, "Nope. We definitely never had that conversation. We definitely have not ever talked about your possible sexual preferences." Whatever happened, they are both totally on-board and could not be happier for me.
(Funny side-story: When my mom met Rachel for the first time, she liked her immediately and told her that she was like a second daughter to her. Um, what about my sister, your actual second daughter?!)
Rachel and I come from very different backgrounds and have had vastly different coming out experiences. We want to support everyone in their coming out processes and recognize that some people are unable to come out at all. We don't know how far-reaching this blog post will be, but if you're struggling with coming out and/or need someone to talk to, please feel free to email us at sustainablyqueer at gmail dot com.