Coming out isn’t something that happens once. It’s something that happens over and over again, and isn’t always universal to everyone in your life. I’m not out at work, or to my extended family, but I am socially with all my friends, my dad, and my sister. It’s a process, more than a single event. And there are many ways of coming out, too.
I’ve seen people come out via social media, all at once. I’ve seen them do it in groups, or indirectly. For me I usually choose one on one conversations, at least I have so far.
For the most part, my coming out has been tense, but has met with good results. Coffee dates with friends until it became common knowledge enough that it’s usually not necessary to mention as more than an offhand comment when pertinent. There were a few friends who were rude, or unkind. Those that were persistent in it I no longer include in my life. I deal with enough from the world around me, someone isn’t my friend if they can’t respect something basic about who I am.
Coming out to my father and sister was more tense, but ended well. A tearful drive home from the comic book store ended with my father reasserting his pride in his child, and continuing discussions over respecting me. Which has never been a problem with him. I came out to my sister at three in the morning, which she thought was cool, and then asked if she could go back to sleep.
For me, coming out has been something that garnered me further support, and encouragement, which I’ve needed over time as the expression and presentation of my gender have morphed to match my identity.
I want it to be clear, I’ve never come out to someone while depending on them monetarily, for food, or for housing. I can’t offer advice, or insight, into that arena. Though throughout the week you’ll hear from those who can.
A few things I’ve learned while coming out, that might be of use to others:
- Prepare. I was a mess when I came out to my dad, I said something about being both Galadriel and Gandalf? After that I wrote down the things I wanted to say, boiling it down to essentials. Not just to make it clear to people who aren’t educated about gender, but because practicing a litle and running through makes me a lot less anxious.
- It’s your choice. You do not owe it to people to come out, or to answer their questions if you don’t want to. If you don’t feel safe, or aren’t comfortable with someone - you don’t have to come out to them. I felt pressured to at first, like I was doing something wrong if I didn’t put a disclaimer on myself. I wasn’t.
- It’s your gender. Likewise, if someone isn’t comfortable with your gender, that’s on them. It’s yours. They don’t get a say. Coming out isn’t about them. Your identity isn’t about them. Something I’ve struggled a lot with, coming out, is learning not to emphasize the importance of how my gender effects anyone else. Because it doesn’t a whole lot. This story isn’t about them, and they don’t get to make it so.