Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday is National Coming Out Day

Come out, come out, wherever you are! Honestly, closeted gay people, what is keeping you in there! Trust me when I tell you, whatever barrier is blocking your path, in retrospect, it really isn't all that. And nowadays, look how much company you'll have on the outside! These days, celebrities don't even do a big splashy Time or People Magazine reveal, they just quietly affirm. And nobody cares! Did Jim Parsons coming out hurt The Big Bang Theory? Nope. Did Anderson Cooper lose his multiple TV gigs? Nope. Neil Patrick (wait for it) Harris? Are you kidding?

It wasn't quite so crowded out here when I took that step. Picture it, National Coming Out Day, October 11, 1996. I'd lived in Las Vegas only two years by then, 2,000 miles away from my family. I have a small family, and at the time only a small group of friends here in Vegas. I decided that I was 30 years old (so young!) and it was time to just yank off that band aid. So, I picked up the phone, and started dialing. I called a married couple, both friends of mine. . .answering machine. I called my sister. . .same thing. I called my brother. . .no answer. Mom and Dad? Ditto! I left several messages, all with a cryptic, "call me back, it's important."

The return calls slowly came in. I told my friends (He said, "Okay. So what's your news?" She said, "I knew it!"). My sister was cool about it. My brother was only annoyed that I hadn't told him sooner. Mom cried, but was--mostly--cool the next day. I met my future husband a little over a year later, and he's become a member of the family, as well as my (expanded) circle of friends, with all the rights and privileges I enjoy as a member. Life is good! I've never regretted my decision for a minute.
The company we keep.

The funny thing is, after you come out--unless you're a celebrity--you have to keep coming out. Every time you move, get a new job, meet new people, get a new coworker, you have to go through it again. Sometimes, I just let the news leak out organically. Sometimes I'm right up front about it. I don't make it a habit to blurt out, "I'm gay!" at the bank or the supermarket. But I've long since stopped worrying people will find out, or feeling shy about saying something where it really should be said. There are "levels" of out, though. I never told my (then) surviving grandparents, or elderly aunt. Weighing the value vs. the trouble, it just wasn't worth it to me. And that's okay. It's your coming out, make up your own rules. You can ease out quietly if you want to!

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