Life

VQ Comes Out: The Letter L

VQ-comes-out-simpleVikki’s story’s up next in our VQ Comes Out series, honoring National Coming Out Day and LGBT History month. Vikki’s story begins, as you would hope a great lesbian coming out story would, in the shower, following a folk song.   ~ The Editors
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How many times have you come out?

I have come out  307,439 times. I believe that we come out in tiny ways all the time –sometimes without even knowing it –  so that’s my best guess.

PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH

PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH

But we’re talking about the big ones here – self, family, friends, beloved pet. I came out in 1990 at the ripe old age of 20. I had never considered the possibility that I was a lady lover – not once. I had several friends who were lesbians and I played rugby which has one of the highest queer to straight ratios of any sport out there but, for whatever reason, I never questioned my sexuality.

For me, it was a very simple process. One day I was straight and the next day I was a lesbian.

What got you out?

Obviously, here is where the story lies. Something had to have happened, right?

Right.

One night, I went to an off-campus party hosted by some of the women from the rugby team – some of the lesbians from the team. One of my friends had a new girlfriend and we were all hanging out playing guitar and singing as you do. After finishing some folk song, my friend leaned over and kissed her new girlfriend passionately and I got this weird feeling. That’s the only way I could describe it in that moment. I told everyone I had to go and packed up my guitar and headed back across campus to my own room.

I decided to take a shower because that’s where I do of my best thinking and no – that is not a euphemism for something else. I stood in the shower and tried to figure out this “weird feeling” and then it hit me.

I was jealous.

I wanted my friend to kiss me like she’d kissed her girlfriend.

Once I had that part figured out, I asked myself if it was just this one woman or if I might be attracted to other women too. I realized that it wasn’t just her.

That was that. I figured out I was a lesbian during a 15 minute shower.

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

The day after my revelation in the shower, I told all of my friends at school. I was a student at Grinnell College which is known for being a liberal oasis in the middle of Iowa. In fact, my mother would later threaten to sue Grinnell for making me gay.

I told my friends from high school within a month of figuring it out myself and everyone in my family knew within three months.

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

PHOTO CREDIT: POLLY PAGENHART

PHOTO CREDIT: POLLY PAGENHART

I have to be honest – nothing. But my story is unusual. I never had any angst regarding my sexuality. I was never really in the closet unless the closet was made out of cluelessness. I have been out from the moment I realized it myself.

But coming out did make me stronger and changed some of my family relationships that were conditional for the better. I learned to be secure in who I am and that has been an incredible gift.

What’s harder?

I came out a long long long time ago when you could be gay, bisexual or lesbian. The way you could present in the world was pretty clear cut as well. I slid into some of those boxes easily and I find that it’s harder as the years go by to climb out of them and to be perceived differently. I’m  thrilled to see how we as a community are challenging those old ways of thinking and opening ourselves to more possibilities.

Now, someone pass me my spectacles and cane so I can make my way to my rocking chair.

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

There is no passing in public when you have kids. They call us both some variation on “mom” and we interact with them in such a way that it is obvious that we are their parents. I believe it’s important to model self-acceptance and confidence and the ability to wear difference like a merit badge. And, honestly, that’s the only merit badge I’d ever earn because I can’t navigate with a compass and I have yet to master the fine art of peeing in the woods. So, out and proud is all I’ve got.

PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH

PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH

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12 Comments

  1. GrandeMocha says:

    Where is the picture with the cheerleader skirt & long hair?

  2. Ask and ye shall receive.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Vikki. I appreciate knowing your story and I am sure others do too. It seems fitting that it would be so obvious to you, one day not so much and the next day, boom, there you are. I mean that as a compliment and admire your certainty, including how you came out to your loved ones fairly quickly.

    I love this,

    “But coming out did make me stronger and changed some of my family relationships that were conditional for the better. I learned to be secure in who I am and that has been an incredible gift.”

    Though I am not a lesbian, I have come out to my family about other things that were difficult for me to share. Through that experience I too learned which of my relationships were more conditional than I realized. It has been a journey to figure out how to live with and adapt to the changes that understanding brought.

  4. I have to admit I mostly clicked over for the vintage pics. 😉 But reading about your story – your journey – was the true reward for clicking over. My mom insists that people “decide” to be gay and I want to shake her violently. I wish she would be open to reading stories like yours. That it’s not a matter of “deciding to be gay” so much as “deciding to listen to your heart and be who you really are.” Your self-acceptance and introspection even at 20 blows me away.

    Anyway. You rock. Thank you for teaching me about your experience.

  5. A. I love the chair. It takes me way back, girl.
    B. I like that you have a different perspective on how you came out.
    C. I want to see more pictures of you with long hair in a dress. I am easily amused.

  6. “Closet of cluelessness” is going into my phrase bank today. Love that. Thanks for sharing your story, Vikki,

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