Greens in Action
Green Service to the Tower
Battle Blogs – Action
Coming out: Towards a Destination
By Xylianna Paladina (Part 2 of 2)
An impression I’ve always had was that you ‘come out’ once and you are done. Well I am here to tell you that I’ve been coming out, in one form or another, for over twenty years, and I will continue to do so as needed.
In high school, I discovered the concept of bisexuality, which made a lot of sense to me since I had always found people of all genders attractive. I talked about it only with one person, one of my close friends in high school. She encouraged me to come out to my parents if I felt comfortable, but due to some things my family had said to me, I chose not to take action at that time.
Then when I was in college, I was forcibly outed to some family members by someone who had spied on me on the internet and discovered me talking about myself as bisexual. This went very badly, and prompted me to feign heterosexuality for nearly two decades after. When I married a man, I figured that was the end of it. A family member had pleaded with me to ‘get cured of my disease’ so mission accomplished, right?
Well, marriages end, and I found myself back in the world of dating. The next time I came out — the first time I came out to a family member by choice — was to my mother. I had already mentioned it to her when I was younger, and the person had outed me due to internet posting. But now I had an actual conversation with her. It went very well. My mother has never shown me anything but support over the years and for that I am grateful.
Next I came out to my sister and brother-in-law, and they too have never shown me anything but complete support, so there isn’t much story to tell aside from what a huge sense of relief it is when you build something up so much in your head and then there is no big scary reaction.
I held off telling the rest of my family because due to the strong reactions I had gotten when I was younger, I didn’t feel the need to go there until such a point when I was in a serious relationship with a woman. I felt that there was a strong chance the rest of my family would never accept me, and I didn’t want to burn that bridge until there was no way around it.
That brings us to 2020, the year that living through a global pandemic encouraged me to toss fears aside and live my truth instead of waiting for some distant day when I would feel less scared. I started a relationship with my current partner, an AFAB agender person who is perceived as a woman. After we deemed it safe enough to have in person dates, I decided to tell my son. This was big for me, because I was scared about how to approach it. I had no idea how he would react. But I remember the exchange clearly. He already knew my partner, because we had been friends for years before dating. We had a plan for her to come over and bring curbside takeout for dinner, so I decided to tell him before she arrived. I told him that we were dating, and he looked at me and very seriously asked: “Are we still having sushi for dinner?”
I laugh now, but I had built it up in my head to be such a huge thing, that this was an enormous weight off my shoulders.
Fast forward another few months, and after I had been dating my partner for six months, I decided it was time to tell my family. I was tired of having to censor myself when I talked about what I was doing on weekends. But due to past experiences, I was incredibly nervous. After a lot of therapy, and talking with my friends, I finally bit the bullet and told my dad. I think it was on the phone, because I didn’t want to see his face on a zoom call if it went badly.
But much to my surprise, it went fine. He expressed happiness that I was sharing about my life, and he was glad that my partner was making me happy. His only questions were about how she treated me and what sorts of things we did together on dates.
Riding on the coattails of how well that went, I told my younger brother. He was similarly accepting. While I hadn’t had any concrete reason to worry about how he would react, it was still a pleasant surprise.
I stayed closeted to the rest of the world until this year. I had gone through a lot of soul searching and determined I was not in fact bisexual or pansexual, but that I was lesbian. So for this year on National Coming Out day I posted the following on my personal Facebook page, which seems like the perfect way to end this article:
Today is National Coming Out Day!
You are seen, loved, and valid if:
* you come out today
* you came out previously
* you are in the closet and not ready to come out for any reason
Despite identifying as bisexual/pansexual for over 20 years, I’ve never felt the need to come out “officially”. I have spent most of my life straight passing, and it made me feel safe. As long as I only talked about being queer in safe spaces, I wouldn’t have to deal with hate.
But something I’ve been coming to terms with over this year is just how darn important it is for there to be people, out and living boring everyday lives, even in the small towns. (Maybe especially in the small towns.) It’s only been the last few years that I can easily find representation in books and other media, and that has had such a huge positive effect in my life. Representation matters!
My name is Becky. I’m 39 years old. I have a 12 year old child, a 2 year old cat, and I read more books than seems possible in a year. Also, I’m a lesbian, and after 20+ years of closet life, I’m done doing anything other than living my truth.