Two days ago, I was on the road for 14 hours so I missed the National Coming Out Day celebration. This day is important to me and many others. I came out when I was young. At the time, over twenty-one years ago, I did not know one person who was out of the closet. Zip, zilch, no one. I had never met anyone who was out and I had NO models for what being out could or might be like. But at sixteen, I came out just the same, and did so fearlessly, bravely, naively, believing my life would be BETTER if I were able to be my true self and share my true heart with the world.
I had no idea of the cost, the price those who came out before me had paid to be who they were and to love who they loved, nor did I have any idea of the price I would pay for being out and proud and fully me. Today, I know. I have paid a big price for being that fearless kid who came out to everyone at sixteen, at a time when no one around me was doing it, at a time when I had no models or leaders that I knew of, and no support but my own brave heart. I have paid a big price for over twenty years. I’ve been abused, shunned, exiled, dehumanized, criminalized, and psychiatrized. But I’ve studied the lives of other brave LGBTQ+ warriors who have come before me and unrelentingly fought to be themselves and love themselves, and their trajectories have been similar: I am not alone in living through horror because I have chosen to be who I am.
Would I go back into the closet and trade all my hardship and mistreatment for the loss of myself? No. I would choose to come out all over again. In the words of Jeanne d’Arc, “I was born to do this.” I had a vision of a loving and accepting world, one I believed in at sixteen, and I still believe in making that world, and in struggling in every way I know how to survive and build it so that those who come after me can continue to make that world. I made it, despite extreme hate and cruelty put upon me to deny my humanity and crush me; I still made it. I’m alive today at 38, and I’m the mother of two children.
Happy (belated) National Coming Out Day!
I am who I am. I love who I love.
I stand by me. I stand by you.
I am a human being, I deserve to live my life without violence, mistreatment, and fear, and without being maligned. And so do you.
This is (still) me.