It Does Get Better
Being Gay, and Why I'm Always Honest About It
First a little about me:
Coming out at 19 to my mother didn't go down the way I'd have liked it to, but she tried her hardest to understand. Changing gender prefixes when she remembered, when asking me about getting a boy...whooopps...girl friend. When I introduced my girlfriend, who is now my Civil Union Wife, she took her into the family, and finally got her head around it.
But, her attempt at initial acceptance gave me the courage to come out to my friends, and that went a whole lot better. A flatting situation with 3 gay men, and myself - the only lesbian - changed my life for the better. I saw how just accepting yourself, and not giving two hoots about what people think could make you accept yourself, and love yourself just the way you were. They taught me that I had to be me, and I had to make sure I was safe to be me whenever I could. We had a rule that if there were homophobes amongst our friends or colleagues that they were not to come to the house - home was often the only place we could feel safe. Everyone respected that. I have always wanted to thank those guys for what they taught me, but never knew how. Until I figured something out.
Why I'm So Open About It
People often say :"Why do people need to come out? Who Cares?" Well, what I realised was that we come out for various reasons - to be honest about who we are, to be honest about who are partners are, to find a sense of community, and to find out that we are not alone in this.
I start every new job the same way - I do not mention my sexuality in the interview - because even though it's illegal, there is always some way that they will find to say "Oh, you just missed out" for another reason. But, I'm always honest when it comes to the first day/week/month questions about partners/husbands, and what they do. Most people are like "Oh, and what does she do?" No big deal.
The other thing I've always done is this: People are often curious, even if they are just being nosey. If someone asks "I've got a question, but you don't have to answer it" - I smile and tell them "Ask away, just be sure you want to know the answer - because I'll answer almost anything unless it's incredibly personal.' (Such as what I prefer in the bedroom!). And I've been asked some...interesting..things! Most people have gotten an answer, and some a little more than they bargained for.
Often, this later translates into longer conversations, about all number of things - about me, about gay people, about discrimination, etc. And, I'm happy to continue on these as well.
Now I don't want it to seem like I'm shoving my sexuality down people's throats, or jamming my thoughts in their face - this is only if they ask that I share anything.
But, along with coming out - I do this for one reason. I've had my share of struggles, issues, and pain with being gay. I've had my share of other issues that I'm not ashamed off (angsty teen etc!). These things have made me who I am today, and I am NOT ashamed of who I am today. However, so many people are made to feel ashamed - of who they are, and what they've been through to get there.
I talk about all this stuff openly, because if my talking about the issues to one person changes something for that person, or someone they love, then my job here on Earth is done. I don't know that the person I could be talking to could be questioning their sexuality, or have a child or grandchild doing just that. If I can allow them to see that it's all okay, and that their child/grandchild/self will be okay, and is the same person they were before coming out, and make someone's journey easier, and prevent them feeling suicidal or bullied or alone - then.....it's all worth it.