Life

VQ Comes Out: Not so much “out” as “are”

VQ-comes-out-simpleIt’s VQ Comes Out: our week-long series honoring National Coming Out Day and LGBT History month. Susan’s story involves … Women’s Studies! And a little epistemology. How do you come out when you are out? ~ The Editors
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When did you come out (or how many times, if it’s been a multilayered process)?

DSC_0138You know, I don’t really feel as though I ever “came out.” There wasn’t some long, drawn-out process where I slowly realized that I was gay, and then slowly told family and friends. Sometime around 1993 or 1994, when I was doing my undergrad degree, I realized that I was crushed out on my roommate’s (female) best friend, and so I (slowly, awkwardly, somewhat heartbreakingly) acted on that crush. And things just kind of went from there, without any great amount of soul-searching or lightning-bolt realizations. It may have helped that I was doing a double major in English/drama with a minor in women’s studies and that I was heavily involved in the theatre scene — basically surrounded by queers and experimenters and liberal thinkers of all sorts.

What got you out?

I met my first serious girlfriend (whom I’m now cough married to) in the first year of (wait for it) my Masters program in women’s studies. I was living with my parents at the time, and it was clear that things might get a bit awkward if I didn’t eventually tell then.

I told my mom first – took her out for an Indian buffet lunch on her birthday and dropped enough hints until she finally asked. She was fine with the whole thing, if a little surprised. My dad was a little less than thrilled, but after a period of gruffness, he got over it. My parents paid for and hosted our wedding.

How long did the process take ‘til you were out to family/ friends/ world?

Not particularly long at all — I’d say within a few months of telling my mother, it was common knowledge in my family (she couldn’t keep a secret like that). Again, drama-free.

What’s easier about your life now that you’re out? What’s harder?

Honestly, given that I was never really “in,” I can’t really answer these questions. What I will say is that I cannot imagine how on earth I would function while having to hide my relationships to my partner and children. Everything in my life would be different and the permutations and stress involved in hiding something so basic to my existence would be pretty much impossible. I’m lucky to have a liberal and loving family, live in a progressive community, in a country where same-sex marriage is legal nationally and my family is legally protected. I get pretty stressed out when I travel somewhere — like, oh, Florida — where my rights to be considered a family could so easily be challenged.

How are you out in a whole new way with kids?

Everything I said in the paragraph above, but amplified 100 times. Having children means coming out daily, often multiple times — to the point where I no longer feel that I “come out,” but rather that I just am out. All the time. Every time I go to the school, fill out a form, coparent with my spouse, go on vacation, eat at a family restaurant, go on vacation, walk the kids to school, etc. We aren’t out so much as we simply are. A family.

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