Monday, November 7, 2011

Coming Out

For years I've lived as a heterosexual and it was okay I suppose.  I never truly realized that I was gay.  I mean, I've been attracted to women and found them sexy and even had hot lesbian fantasies, but I always chocked it up to me being so open minded and that I enjoyed appreciating the human body.  Boy was I deep in the closet and I probably still would be if it hadn't been for the path my life took me over the last few years and the friends I've met along the way.

I finally had real gay friends.  Gay people in general, for me, were more of an abstract thought.  I never really knew any but my friends (or friends of friends) had lots of gay friends.  Gay people in my family were accepted, after all, we were really progressive...but there was always an subtle undercurrent that being gay, while okay, was always something for someone else.  Thankfully, through years of talking to my friends (queer, gay, and straight supporters) I was finally able to see what it was like to be something other than heterosexual and, most importantly, that it was something real and honest and not abnormal or something to hide or be ashamed of.

Through this process of coming to terms with my sexuality...I don't even think that's what it was really, it was more of trying to find a label for it - which I really hate to do...I slowly started to come out.  It really felt like I was admitting I was an alcoholic or something.  That's the stigma I had to wrestle with internally.  "Hi, my name is Alison and I'm a .......... um ...... (whisper....lesbian)."  The best part was the massive amount of support I got from my friends (regardless of sexual orientation).

To me, being a lesbian is such a small part of who I am that I don't feel the need to have that conversation with people....the one in which I say, "Oh by the way, I'm gay".  You'll figure it out by talking to me but I shouldn't have to spell it out for you.  I don't expect straight people to come out and tell me they're straight.

Because of that thought, my coming out was mostly passively done on Facebook via numerous posts and pictures.  It never dawned on me that my family is part of my Facebook network and that maybe I should call them and have that conversation before I post something.  My sister and my father both found out this way and both have been more supportive than I gave them credit for.  My mother never said anything and she was the one I was worried about.

My mother is my best friend and is one of the most open minded people I know but whenever the topic of lesbians came up, she got vehemently no, I never told my mom.  On National Coming Out Day this year, October 11, I specifically stated in my Facebook status that I was gay.  I waited for my mom to call....she never did.  Finally, about a month later, she and I were having a conversation on the phone and it just came out.

"Mom, I don't know if you're ignoring it or if you've just not noticed it..."
"You mean about you being a lesbian?"
"Um, yeah..."
"I've been ignoring it."

That was the gist of it.  So she knew and that was a weight off of my heart, but I wondered why she was ignoring it.  Apparently she didn't think that I was sure about this because in the past she had asked if I was a lesbian but I'd always said no.  When she'd asked me previously though, I didn't feel that I identified as that particular label so I didn't feel that I could say, I was so deep in the closet I didn't even realize I was gay.

She and I had a very good conversation and what it comes down to is that while she feels that lesbianism is wrong, she completely accepts and loves me and if I ever wanted to bring a girl home for dinner it would be totally cool with her because "anyone who is important to you is important to me".

I love my mother.

I am so proud and grateful to have such a supportive family and social network.  I can't even begin to imagine what it is like for people who don't and I really want to help make this process better for them.  I hope that the work I'm doing (and will be doing in the future) with Amnesty International will help to pave the way for a better quality of life for them and everyone else.


Jennifer Ann said...

I love you, babygirl!
I am so happy for you!
I am proud of the person you are and the heart that you possess!!!!
May we always be friends, no matter the distance between us! <3

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