Coming Out

Greetings! I’m happy this letter has found you well in your closet. Hopefully you are just there to pick out a pair of fabulous Sperrys to complete your ensemble, or perhaps you are digging around for that loud tie-dye t-shirt that’s only appropriate for Pride in the Street. (Yes, the one your boyfriend thought he “accidentally” got rid of in that bizarre incident with the paper shredder.) If so, Happy Pride! If not, keep reading.

Maybe you’ve been in this closet for a few days, or maybe a few years, or maybe the entirety of your life. Regardless of how long, I’m sure you’d like to leave: Closets are no place for someone as great as you.

The important thing to note about Pride is that the name of the celebration pretty much says it all. Pride is something, for lack of better term, to be extremely proud of. You, my dear friend, are fantastic in all of your lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender glory. (Even if it doesn’t feel that way right now, even if you’re so confused and so scared that you’d like to outfit your closet with a pad lock and hire Katniss from The Hunger Games to stand guard with her bow and arrow outside the door.)

Maybe you’ve heard all of the horror stories of your friends’ coming outs. Maybe their moms cried and their dads made them leave. Their friends stopped speaking to them, and the family dog up and walked out, mortified that his master was queer all these years. But the thing is, everyone is different. Don’t assume that their experiences will be your experiences because you never know until you try it. It just takes that one person to open up to, and it gets easier. I promise.

You’re probably wondering when the best time to come out of the closet will be. My answer is: There’s never going to be a great moment of clarity, where the clouds part and the angels start singing Lady Gaga and all of a sudden your conservative mother sees a gay couple walking hand in hand down the street and beams, with pride, at you. (If that does happen, though, please take many pictures). I read a quote somewhere that said, “Life begins when you step outside of your comfort zone.” You, hiding all of your sadness and confusion and angst, are not actualizing your potential as a human being. You’re harboring a huge part of yourself. A great part of yourself that should not be a source of shame.

When I came out of the closet at 19, my mom would often give me these long, doe-eyed glances until her big green eyes filled with tears and she bawled out a very theatrical: “Where did we go wrong!?” My dad would shake his head and tell me that this was “my choice” and that if I wanted to live this way, these were the consequences. I wondered why I’d even bothered to leave my closet at all, and if I should crawl right back into it and tell my parents I was just a little confused after a long marathon of The L Word. (I mean, I imagine Katherine Moennig can do funny things to straight women. I’m just sayin’…)

The point is, I didn’t crawl back into the closet, and it was probably one of the most difficult decisions I’d ever had to make. I had stepped out of my comfort zone, stopped lying to my parents and was finally brutally honest with them. It took me a while to realize that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and that I was still their kid, raised with decent morals and fabulous table manners, who still liked coffee, prayed to the same God, and got Christmas presents under the tree. It took them about a year before they came around. And now, my mother is pressuring me about gaybies because I’m rapidly-approaching that “30 mark.”

Now, like I said earlier, this doesn’t mean that your parents, friends, and the rest of your family are going to react the same way. They could be amazing about it up front, or they could be worse than mine. But the important thing to know is that you have tons of resources at your fingertips: The Delta Foundation, Persad, GLAAD, countless selfhelp books. And, as Dan Savage’s inspiringly hopeful campaign suggests: It gets better. I’m not going to sugar coat this and say that there won’t be some aspects of discomfort at some point. Not everyone is going to like that you’re out, and not everyone will understand what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The essential thing though is that you never lose sight of what’s important: knowing that you are amazing, no matter what they say.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” And while nobody necessarily dreams of a life that has potential persecution around every bend, be proud of who you are.

And if right now isn’t necessarily conducive to coming out, if you feel like you need a little bit of time — take it, but don’t take forever. And know this: We’re all rooting for you. I’m proud of you, and you should be proud of you, too.

Good luck, and Happy Pride!