Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Art of Coming Out

The term "coming out" makes me really uncomfortable. It has always invoked within me a strong feeling of resentment toward the speaker, as most who use this common expression have no idea what it means. Can they even imagine harboring three little words within their soul their entire lives and then finally, after years of restless struggle, they decide to "come out" with it all, knowing full well that those three words will affect the hearer forever? For better or for worse. Can they even imagine?


The first time I told anyone, I did it in the most round-about, read-between-the-lines way that it barely qualifies as coming out (especially because this particular friend suspected...). I'll spare you a word-for-word transcript and assure you that it was anything but easy, and ever so freeing. It served as the beginning of a rather pivotal step in my life: slowly but surely accepting the truth and coming to actually say the words. Words that I had hated so ardently before.

That was last October. Now, 3 months later and the commencement of a new year, I reflect on the small handful of coming-out experiences that have followed. I met with my Bishop several weeks ago, a monumental act of bravery for me, and received wise and loving counsel, but left even more confused as to where my heart lied; was I willing to forgo this new life of personal acceptance, sinking back into the darkness of anonymity, or would that only engender further heartache and pain? I somehow agreed to meet him every week and take my time in coming clean on my past, venting my confusion and frustration, and if needed, receiving appropriate blessings and counsel. I haven't received a priesthood blessing for years. I miss feeling its power and influence in my life.

Only a few days after this experience, I felt strongly that I should come out to my dear friend of 15+ years, a girl I have always loved and cherished perfectly. Sitting in my car on a freezing January night, high on a hill overlooking the city, I told her. I came out. Then came that moment, that sliver of a second after you say it, that still haunts me in my sleep: how will their once clueless, loving eyes look at me now? What thoughts are racing through their minds? I felt tears burn my eyelids when all my fears were laid to quiet rest when there she was, my eternal friend, looking back at me as she always had. Her eyes, her mouth, her hands hadn't changed. She was 100% there.

These experiences, although bearing great significance, are merely drops in a very large bucket. I have a long way to go before I can claim the beauty and freedom of "being out," but the distinct feeling of hope that bathed my soul that week is unbelievably sustaining. Knowing that there are people out there that know all of me and still love all of me breathes air into my lungs, pours light over my senses, and fills me with such life. Like I've been freed from a jail sentence, escaping a life of confinement.

I guess that's why it's called "coming out."