I have been a lot more active on Twitter and a lot less on Tumblr. I have been busy with my own Podcast and listening to a bunch of others. Life has been overwhelming and I miss my wife and our dogs.
But a few things have brought me to sitting down and writing tonight. I was on Twitter and saw Lez Represent Podcast talking about their latest episode featuring LezWatchTV. I had already seen Lez Represent and intended to listen to it a while ago (but life, work, busy, etc…) and I finally sat down to type up some paperwork and hit play. Then I tweeted about listening to that episode. If you want to see many long conversations just follow the threads and re-tweets.
Part of this conversation talked about coming out. I mentioned, “I think I wrote a blog post about that.” Which I did, but it wasn’t the story I thought it was. Reading it again was a little bit eye-opening, and having a conversation about representation on the media also made me contemplative.
In other words, prepare for rambling.
I know I’ve written my coming-out story before. I’m sure if I dug around The Kitten Board I can find it, copy/paste and just be done with it. Which I might still go dig it up later because that will certainly be an earlier (fresher) perspective of it and it would be interesting to compare that to how I view it now.
Timeline: I graduated from my master’s program in 2005, returning home that September from Scotland. Read Mixtape to learn about that girl I was in love with back then. But that was the time I had really come out to myself. And during that time I had used Match.com and went on a few dates. A month or two before I was to return home I went ahead and changed my searches to back home. I started talking with one woman with the intention of when I returned home we might start dating. She eventually wrote me an apology, saying she had gone out to the club and met a woman in person. Turns out this gal she met I knew from college. Which was cool because when I got back we all hung out and it was nice to be around gay people like me. (Side note, glad this college friend took this woman off my hands, they had a disastrous relationship and I think oh shit, that could have been me!)
But I was still looking for a girlfriend so I talked to more women online. Agreed to meet up with one at a coffee shop and we found out later that night was a gay film festival and they were screening Girl Play. We agreed to meet later that night. And here is another point where REPRESENTATION MATTERS, especially in the media. If I had not seen this movie, who knows how long it would have been before I had the courage to come out. If I had not seen Willow and Tara, I would not have been absolutely sure about myself. If I had not seen Kissing Jessica Stein (as much as people generally dislike this movie), I could have kept dismissing feelings about other women.
Back to my original coming out (to myself) post, if I had not seen Ellen…. Well back then I dismissed it. This is where POSITIVE REPRESENTATION MATTERS. I had seen the negative, the backlash. I suspect now that my own dismissal was entirely influenced by how the world dismissed Ellen. I remember my Mom asking me about it, why I stopped watching the show myself (before it got canceled). I remember telling her it became serious and wasn’t as funny anymore. I’m sure there is a lot more to unpack here but hopefully, you get what I’m saying.
October 21, 2005. I see a movie. October 22, 2005. I come out to my parents.
I had already planned to actually. When I returned from Scotland I went to visit my brother in Portland. He was one of the first I came out to while I was in Scotland. We went to Powell’s Bookstore. I bought a book about coming out I thought might be helpful to my parents (it apparently wasn’t), and a lesbian romance novel, and a strange book about botany in some parallel universe. I was just waiting for the right time.
I was living with my other brother at the time. He was gone and I was going to go see my old high school marching band march in the district competition with my friend (we were both Drum Majors, and her little sister was now taking the field in that position). So I drove to my parents’ house to drop off my brother’s dog since no one would be home and I nervously sat down and said I had something to tell them.
I really don’t remember how I said it. “Mom, Dad, I’m gay.” Those might have been my words. What I do remember is my heart pounding. What I do remember is my mother saying “I’ve been dreading this day.” What I do remember is lots of crying. What I do remember is dropping this bomb, my mother wanting to talk more, and me leaving them with that book I bought to go watch the marching band.
They said they suspected. Apparently, something popped up on the internet about lesbians once. They asked about that girl in Scotland if she was my girlfriend (she did have short hair after all). I don’t even remember if all of these things had been discussed that day or the next. My mother thought she had done something wrong. Was it the complications of my birth or the drugs the hospital had her on? Had she done something or not done enough, something that made me this way? It was all very confusing to her.
Ironic that I paused last night in writing the above paragraph and today I was (still am) playing catch up on Buffering the Vampire Slayer, and the episode for Becoming Part 2 where Kristin and Jenny talk about the coming out parallel for Buffy. I wish the book I had given my parents was the one by Kristin Russo. It was just super relevant to hear that episode after I mention my mother blaming herself. I feel the universe just balances itself sometimes. It also likes to think it is funny (and can have a cruel sense of humor sometimes).
It was a rather big deal for me to come out to my parents first, with the exception of about 5 people, I wanted my parents to be first because I didn’t want them to find out through someone else. Then I came out to everyone else by saying “So I came out to my parents the other day.” As I have mentioned before, most people were not surprised. I did lose a few friends, they said I had changed. But as I came to realize, I had not changed, I had finally become the person I was and no longer the suck-up who was overcompensating and constantly seeking approval from my peers. They didn't like that I was no longer constantly available to them. Plus, there is also a whole thing about these “friends” of mine disliking my wife, but we can save that for another story time (maybe).
I understand I am extremely lucky in my coming-out. Sure my mother’s words hurt but in the overall scheme of things (and how I find it funny now), I can’t be disappointed with my coming-out story. And I’m always glad to share it. Thanks for reading.