Life

VQ Comes Out: Third time’s the charm

VQ-comes-out-simpleNext up for VQ Comes Out – our series of  coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day and LGBT History month – is Dylan’s story.  Like C.J.’s this morning, Dylan’s coming out story has included multiple layers and several iterations.  One interesting difference? Dylan’s parents had a point where they hoped Dylan was “just happy being a lesbian.”  ~ The Editors

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How many times have you come out?

I have come out roughly three times. Coming out part one was at the beginning of my first year of college as bisexual, then coming out part two was later the same year as a dyke (which was my preferred identity term at the time, “lesbian” just really didn’t sit right). Internally, coming out part

Me during my dyke phase at the School of the Americas protest.

Me during my dyke phase at the School of the Americas protest.

three was a gentle sifting of information and shifting of identity over time. During the summer before I started my senior year of college I was out as trans and queer, at least to myself and my close friends.

What got you out?

Well, the first time it was that cliched posters of two women kissing on a bed, Shane from the L word and basically cute queer girls in general. I was able to begin making sense of both my incredibly intense relationship with my high school best friend and the fairly extreme depression I felt during and after puberty 1.0 occurred. Coming out as a dyke was wrapped up in dipping my toes into women’s studies and feminism, and fortunately I was eventually able to move to a deeper understanding of feminism and queer theory that allowed me to process and understand my own experiences of gender. At this point my life just sort of clicked and I realized that I was trans. The handful of crushes and failed dating attempts with boys in high school finally made sense. I had wanted to be in relationships with those boys as a boy. Similarly my high school crushes on girls made more sense. Coming out as trans and queer socially was amazing for my mental health and my general well being. When I was then able to transition physically it was even better.

Me, out as trans to my friends but not really my family.

Me, out as trans to my friends but not really my family.

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

The first times I came out I was mostly just out to my friends and acquaintances at school. I was out to my parents but not really to my siblings. I’m pretty sure they were able to connect the dots when I brought my girlfriend home though. When I came out as trans I again came out to my friends, then my parents, then more generally at school. I came out to my siblings about a year after I came out to my parents. It took so long in part because my parents didn’t want me to come out to them, I think they maybe “hoped I was happy just being a lesbian.” (Yes, that’s a direct quote) However, I had started living and working and being out to in my daily life. I eventually disregarded my parents and came out to my siblings anyway.

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

I’m in a much better place, namely not a dark, confusing, and depressed place. I like my body, I like who I am, and have become more authentic and present in my relationships with friends, family, and the world. Coming out as trans also let me truly consider becoming a parent. Before, I was unable to picture being a parent. Realizing that I could be a dad was awesome. Sometimes the best way I can describe how it felt to come out as trans is that for the first time since before my first puberty, I finally feel like myself.

What’s harder?

This is actually a challenging question. I would say that internally my life is much easier now that I am out as trans. I’m not as anxious as I used to be.  Anytime I’ve switched jobs or when I started grad school I’ve had some worries about transphobic asshats (being outed, misgendered, fired, etc). I think for me what was harder was when I was out as trans socially but unable to access medical transition options. I was still getting misgendered in public and my family wasn’t totally on board yet with my name and gender. I was a lot more worried about using public restrooms, getting a job, and figuring out how to get access to hormones and pay for surgery.

I’ve never been interested in living stealth, but since I serve on the board of a trans health organization and work in an LGBTQ health organization sometimes being “gay for pay” gets exhausting. However, I love being out on the internet so how’s that for a contradiction!

Dylan (out to the world!) with his siblings.

Me (out to the world!) with my siblings.

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

Little Bear is not yet two, so it’s hard to know what she actually picks up on. As she gets older how we navigate our identities as a family is probably going to shift and change. I know that in some ways it may be easier for her, having two parents that pass for heterosexual. I am really committed to being out to her and any other kids in my life. I was fortunate that when we were first dating my partner was nannying/babysitting for a few families that we are still close to. I got to practice coming out to those kids and it was surprisingly easy. I’m not sure that any of them remember it at this point, but I have my coming out to kids conversation skills down.

 

[PHOTO CREDITS: DYLAN FLUNKER]

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5 Comments

  1. Aww, your baby face!! Thanks for the story, Dylan.

  2. Baby face indeed! Love the pic with you and your siblings.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us and the internet.

  3. Dylan – thank you for sharing your story. In all the years and stages of coming out that I have had the pleasure of knowing you, your current joy for life is no doubt a gift to all of us! Thank you for your vulnerability on your journey to sharing yourself with us all. You are a great dad, husband, son, and friend.

  4. Great story, Dylan! What a happy ending.

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