Saturday, June 15, 2019

Coming Out

Sophomore year of high school. In a dream, I had romantic feelings for another girl. We kissed. When I woke up I was deeply troubled by what this might mean, and aggressively pushed my memories of it to the back of the closet.

A few weeks after that dream, I spent the night at a friend’s. Her mother, whom I’d only just met, was a bit drunk. She also believed she had The Sight, and first scrutinized my palm, and then my face.

“There’s a question,” she said. The dream came rushing to the surface as I struggled to keep my face neutral. I shook my head, “no.” I was terrified that she could actually read my thoughts. Finally, thankfully, she let go of my hand and left the room.

Summer before senior year of high school. I was going to be entering an all girl’s school in Belgium for my senior year. Two of my friends, boys, teased me about “what happens in all girls schools,” and that I would be turned lesbian. I was worried about this.

Senior year. As an American, I had some unearned cache. But somehow the girl I developed a crush on was the one girl who was not interested in The American.

I would daydream about kissing her. At school I would stare at her too long, and she in turn did her best to keep her distance from me. I felt dirty, harboring those thoughts, and wished I didn’t have them. I pushed them to the back of my closet.

Several years later I became involved with a New Age group. We would engage in interactions attempting to break down our walls and open up to our deepest secrets.

At this one event, I saw a young woman who immediately caught my eye. I was flushed with hormones. As I sat knee to knee with an older woman, I shared quietly and tentatively that possibly I was attracted to women. She responded loudly and delightedly: “YOU LIKE WOMEN? THAT’S WONDERFUL!” I was terrified that the woman who had prompted this sharing would overhear. My closet door slammed shut for several more years.

Years later, after breaking up with my boyfriend, I determined that I would not become involved with another man until I’d had a chance to date women.

Instead, I had a brief fling with a beautiful, effeminate man with flowing red hair. Soon after, I got back together with my boyfriend, became engaged, and got married.

In my late 20’s, in college (I started college late), I will never forget the first day of class of a new semester. Sitting at my desk looking down, I heard her before I saw her. The mere timbre of her voice reached way back into my closet. When I looked up and saw her, the contents of my closet got caught up in a whirlwind.

My response to her was physical, compelling, and absolute. Within the span of only a few weeks, I came bursting out of the closet at full speed. Unfortunately, my new marriage did not stand a chance.

In some ways, things are easier now. People are more accepting. Then again, many churches still condemn homosexuality and frankly condemn homosexuals. People are fired from their jobs for being queer. They are denied the possibility of adopting children. They are sought out and beaten. They take their own lives because they believe they are abhorrent.

Are things better, worse, or the same? I don’t know. I only know that if a kid is questioning their sexual orientation, having romantic dreams about the same sex, being teased by friends, I fervently hope that a message of acceptance reaches them.

My journey has made me the person I am. Still, I would save others from the years of inner turmoil, not trusting oneself, and making bad decisions. And in the process, I would spare those who would fall in love them the heartbreak of being left because they were not the right sex.

This June, Pride is celebrated around the world. We celebrate because we had to struggle to get to where we are, to stand in our own truths, and to love those we love. We celebrate because we want those kids who have unsettling thoughts, feelings, and dreams, to know that they’re ok. They can feel pride in who they are. They are not alone. And they are most certainly not abhorrent.

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