Today (October 11) is National Coming Out Day, a day set aside to celebrate those in the broad LGBT+ community and to highlight the many in said community who have self-disclosed their sexual or gender identity — “coming out” — to family, friends, or whomever else they feel should know at the time they’re most comfortable to tell them.
When I last opined about National Coming Out Day on here a couple of years ago, I pondered the question out loud, “Will I come out?” I wasn’t really ready to come out back then, or at least fully disclose to the whole wide world that I live as a male-to-female crossdresser who has been questioning their sexuality. And I’m still not.
Well, perhaps I should clarify that: In the past few years, I have indeed displayed my crossdressing side to actual, non-online world. Well, okay, it’s just safe, accepting locales in Madison and it’s been mostly along with like-minded people like me. But every time I have done so, regardless of the setting, it’s been an exhilarating experience.
And perhaps I should really clarify all of that: When I’ve ventured out wearing a wig and a dress and makeup, or whenever I’ve posted photos online, I’ve never made a practice of telling the world, “Yes, my name is [insert my male name here].” And if you wouldn’t consider that coming out of the closet… well, it’s been technically Allison’s closet that I’ve been breaking out of, so I will both agree and disagree with you a little bit.
Agree and disagree, you’re asking? Well, yeah, why not? One of my long-held hopes as Allison has been to display my feminine side to the world at least once. And in the past couple of years especially, I’ve been doing it quite a bit. It could be at a private support meeting, or it could be at a post-meeting dinner with friends, or it could be a pride parade. And each time, it’s been a thrill to have been welcomed and accepted.
But will I come out to my family, colleagues, and relations who have only known me as a loving and devoted son, brother, uncle, and worker? No, I have no plans to do so. They only know my male mode side, and I’m still worried that they will shun me and disown me, only because I present a side of me that’s not entirely that of a straight, cis-gender male. Yes, it’s the pits to live in such fear, but it’s a real fear that I have. Will they be accepting of me if I came out? I don’t know for sure. Maybe one day they will (pardon the expression) come right out and say they’ll love me unconditionally, even if I were to say, hey, I’m not entirely a straight, cis-gender male. I know I’d love them unconditionally if any of them were to come out. Of course, those who know me professionally might not care. Indeed all they will say to me would be on par with, “Yeah, okay, that’s fine, but I need that report tomorrow!” *sigh*
National Coming Out Day is a day whose general idea is that it’s okay, daring, beneficial, or whatever similarly positive adjective to live as openly LGBT+. And while it’s good to live so openly, there’s still that stigma of being shunned for that reason. I still live in fear of being shunned by the family I hold dear. But I am glad that I’ve been accepted by those who are like me and don’t mind me being… well, me. That includes the online friends who know me as only Allison, those who first met me online and came to meet Allison in person… and the friend who has met both my male and female sides, has appreciated me as a whole person, and has become the closest friend I’ve ever had.
So, yeah, I’m out of the closet, so to speak. It’s just that those I’m out to mostly know only my female side and just happen to not be blood relatives. And you know what? That’s fine. National Coming Out Day shouldn’t have to be a day where everyone who’s LGBT+ must shout out who they are from the rooftops. Just doing so to just one person, and only doing so when they’re ready to do so, is what this day is supposed to promote.
On this National Coming Out Day, here’s hoping that you appreciate and admire the stories of those who have come out as LGBT+ to those they care about. If you’re firmly in the closet and not ready to come out, don’t worry. While it may not be apparent to you now, there will be those ready to accept and support you when you’re ready to come out. They may only be friends you haven’t met yet, but know that they’ll be supporting of you when you’re ready.