February 4, 2012

My Security Blanket, a Sentence

(Averted eye contact) “So…like…ugh, I don’t know…okay…okay…I guess…like……….I’m in a place in my life…”

I can’t tell anyone how to come out, or even that they should come out. Everyone needs to do what is best for their specific situation. Some people like writing letters while others prefer sending text messages. Some people simply change the ‘interested in’ portion on their facebook, and still others have the conversation face to face. For some people, coming out isn’t an option. It may not be physically safe or it may alienate them from their family (and financial resources).

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have been born into a family with a feminist mom and a mostly egalitarian father; my brother is your basic socially liberal person of my same generation and does his own thing in life. I may from an overwhelmingly conservative state (hey, John McCain), but my personal community of friends and mentors is mostly a liberal one.

Under the above circumstances, I made the decision to come out in person, wherever possible. By middle of this past summer, I’d come out to my immediate family, whichever extended family came across this on my facebook, and all of my close friends. (Random fun fact: I didn’t actually call it ‘coming out’ for a really long time. I much preferred to say that I ‘told people.’ ‘Coming out’ seemed like such a scary term.)

Sometimes, I tried to weave it into conversation. Other times, I pulled a friend aside and just went for it. Regardless of how it happened, I usually flubbed around at the beginning (see above) and then found myself relying on the same sentence, verbatim: “I’m in a place in my life where I’m questioning my sexuality. I’ve found that I’m mostly not attracted to people, which makes knowing who you’re attracted to a little complicated.”

Then I’d explain that I’m open to dating men, women, and gender nonconforming folks, and would elaborate about my feminist philosophies of why gender is confining and shouldn’t matter. I’d word vomit more of my theories about sex and sexuality (which CP kindly termed ‘a mindfuck’) and end by saying something like “so, yeah…that’s where I’m at.”

That everyone affirmed my experience, told me “Yeah, that makes sense” or “yeah, that’s cool” and chuckled at the part where I circularly explained “I’m not attracted to people, so I don’t know who I’m attracted to” made the rest of the conversation and coming out to the next person that much easier.

Yet, the most comforting part of the whole situation was having my sentences. They were like a security blanket. Even after using those exact words on just two or three occasions, it got easier and easier to say them. By the end, I didn’t even have to think about what I was saying. I knew they’d be there for me.

I never practiced in front of a mirror (though that might work for some people). I didn’t even intentionally use the same sentences each time. But at some point, I realized what I was doing and went with it.

So, I can’t tell you how you should come out or that you should. But if you’re looking for things that have worked for other folks, might I recommend standardizing your explanation.

2 comments:

  1. Your conservative Arizona friends love you, Ris :) And support you whoever you like, or don't like, or kinda like... haha. But in all seriousness, you are incredibly brave to put out your personal situation in a public forum in order to help others. What an incredible woman you are.

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  2. I definitely had the same experience coming out as trans. I developed answers to the questions that people tended to ask, and it was really reassuring to know that I was prepared for their responses. And because I've always thought that you don't really know something unless you can explain it to someone else, I liked the fact that I developed a single sentence to explain my identity; It was comforting to feel like I finally knew who I was, because I finally knew how to say it.

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