If you’ve been with me a while, you may have noticed the pattern: I scan the landscape of my life for a troublesome little stone, pick it up, then skip it across the pond of my personal growth. The whole exercise had a logical end point.
Except it didn’t. I’d repeat the process in perpetuity. Searching for what was really bothering me and never finding it. The stone wasn’t reaching the bottom.
Welp. I found out what it is ya’ll:
I am gay.
How’d this happen to me, long married to the greatest guy ever, with whom I have built a life that looks like a dream? My whole thing is ‘self-discovery.’ How did I miss something so bloody fundamental?
Allow me to set the stage. As a personal growth coach, I am trained in dream analysis, body compass and other techniques which allow access to the truth in the body and subconscious mind. May sound woo/ridiculous but it’s a real thing.
One morning a few months back, I woke up from one such dream knowing with 100% certainty that I am not straight. It showed up in my body as a fact, plain and simple.
That same morning, I told my husband that something big was going on with me.
“I’m here for you no matter what,” he said and meant it. His support has been unwavering.
So. My mission became to figure out where I was on that continuum from gay to straight, which I had learned about in my Human Sexuality class as an undergrad lo those 35 years ago.*
In the months following, I stockpiled books, podcasted and therapist shopped. I needed clarity around my identity so I could begin to figure out how it would affect all of our lives. Every night, I chewed the crap out of the inside of my mouth grinding my teeth while I tried to sleep.
During our evening walks, I’d share what I’d learned with my husband. After one miserable day, I told him I’d read that it takes a person in my position somewhere between two and eight years to land on a definitive answer. When I discovered that, I was like NOT TO ME IT DOESN’T. I promised him I wouldn’t keep us in suspense like that.
One kindly therapist who identified herself as more of a crisis counselor told me I didn’t seem to be troubled in that way. She said folks like me really needed community more than anything. That this can often be a terribly lonely time.
That tracked with my research. I’d heard a story about a woman who had realized she wasn’t straight but felt so alone that she re-closeted herself to regain her sense of belonging. That struck me as so sad.
This therapist introduced me to the perfect person—someone who immediately knew me in a way I hadn’t know myself. I finally found the missing piece to me. And it happened nearly over night.
Once it was underway, I realized my identity pretty quickly: super f-ing gay. My husband referred to it as SFG in the sweetest Valentines Day card I have ever received.
Solid as that felt, I really wanted to unlearn whatever baggage kept me closeted for so long. I wanted to show up to the LGBTQ community free of the harmful conditioning that prevented me from knowing myself. I’d heard stories about the new gays putting their foot in their mouth and that was not going to be me.
In that program, we examined all the areas in which we had been conditioned out of gayness: compulsory heterosexuality, internalized homophobia, people-pleasing, misogyny, to name a few. At the end, I felt ready to be an excellent gay citizen of the world.
Sidebar to all this though. A part of me objects to the idea of coming out. Who comes out as straight? NO ONE. The second you say gay or, God forbid lesbian, people sexualize you in a way no straight person ever is. A straight person’s private life remains just that.
So why am I doing it?
So that folks see us ALL, especially here in “don’t say gay” Florida. The gay community includes a woman like me too, a very hetero looking, white-privileged married woman in the suburbs. We are EVERYWHERE. I want white conservatives who thought we had plenty in common to see that yes, we do. And because of that, we all share a community with the trans kids who are being targeted by legislatures across the country. They deserve to feel safe and be loved for who they are. Likewise to gay Black, gay Indigenous, gay People of Color who face violence and discrimination on a scale nobody around here could ever appreciate. We are one community. See us all, please. We are you.
And lastly, I want to share that gayness is not a negative force in the world.** Shame is. Silence around this speaks shame to me and I won’t live in it. My family will not be “damaged” by my coming out. We will be rearranged in unexpected ways as a family. We will expand and grow. As humans doing a hard thing, we will experience difficult emotions and that’s okay. We get to feel our feelings without blame or guilt or apology. That’s for when you do something wrong. Gay is a state of being, not something I did to anyone.
On our quarterly coaching call with Martha Beck this week, she addressed it all with me:
“Find your center, live in integrity. You have already embraced who you are. Just keep coming back to your true self. And as far as coaching goes, it’s time to expand your practice. You are equipped to coach people coming out in midlife. You have walked through fire and now have a great gift to offer the world. If you stay creative, calm and curious, all the people in your life will have a much smoother, easier ride.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Happy Pride to us all.
WRITING PROMPT: What makes you different from other people? Have you shared it? Why or why not?
*Btw the universe of identity isn’t even viewed as a straight line anymore, as one queer friend pointed out. There are spheres and spectrums of identity in all colors of the rainbow.
**It’s actually so fun! It’s my favorite thing about me. And it’s allowed me to accept myself on a level I never thought possible.
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