National Coming Out Day
Coming out is a personal and rewarding journey, as well as a challenging and continuous one.
National Coming Out Day is October 11. It's a celebration of those individuals who have come out as LGBTQIA+, a group near and dear to my heart.
Everyone who has come out has a story. Some stories involve hateful words and friendships lost. While others only involve love and a growing bond. My story is the latter: no friendships ended or love lost, only support and acceptance. Happy coming out stories do happen.
"What you're dealing with is very personal, and it's something you should only do on your terms." - David Rose, Schitt’s Creek
Coming out to friends and family is always a personal journey, a journey often done alone. The emotions that come with it can be felt for the rest of a person's life. I remember the nervousness of telling my mom I was bringing “someone” home for the holidays and that “someone” was a guy.
On one of my favorite TV shows, Schitt’s Creek, the character David Rose, who has been dating his boyfriend for quite some time, finds out his boyfriend hasn’t come out to his parents. Instead of arguing and shaming him, David offers nothing but support. It showcases how even someone who has been out for a long time still understands what it is like to come out to loved ones, understands the anxiety, the fear, the hope.
Coming out on your own terms is critical. I learned years before I came out to never out someone else. Grappling with being LBGTQIA+ and what that means personally should be done first. It’s hard enough figuring out who we are as individuals without having to figure out how we fit into a marginalized group – and forcing someone to go through those emotions sooner than they are ready can have dire consequences.
Coming out is a continuous journey. When I'm asked questions about how my family and wife are doing, it feels like having to come out all over again. Politely saying my husband and kids are doing great corrects the assumption. Every new job presents itself with when and how do I come out. Do I let people figure it out when I put pictures of my family on my desk? Or with the casual mention of what my kids and husband are doing over the weekend? It can be nerve-wracking each time.
Coming out is scary; however, for those that make the brave move to do so, it can be a wonderful experience. I have seen the University change over the decades I have been in Reno. Younger generations are braver and more accepting. I was shocked when, on a normal Wednesday in August last year driving around campus, I saw two men holding hands and embracing each other warmly as they separated. They didn’t feel the need to look around to see if anyone was watching. It was just part of life for them. My shock was surprising, too, and made me realize just how much things are changing.
If you are questioning when to come out and how, the best answers will always be: “When you are ready" and "on your terms.”
To those who have come out – no matter if it's to family, friends or even coworkers – congratulations on your journey.