My coming out letter:
I’ve been trying to write this letter, some version of it, for years now. I sit down, I write a couple lines, get frustrated with what I see, and convince myself that I can put it off awhile, that there’s no real rush. But as I was writing a reading response for a class of mine tonight, it became apparent that putting this off was doing more harm than good. For ages now, I’ve found myself caught between selves. The self I am here and the self I am when I go home to you all. And it’s become increasingly obvious what a destructive influence that conflict has had on me. I blame that conflict in large part for my depression, my anxiety, and even my break up with Aaron.
I’m writing this now for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s Bold Moves October, and internet event so to speak where you do the things that scare you. And this scares the hell out of me. Another reason is that LGBT Pride week at WVU is coming next and I am very proud to presenting a movie and panel in the Gluck on the movie Outrage which documents the double lives led by conservative LGBT politicians. I’ll be presenting it on National Coming Out Day. And it hardly seems fair to be denouncing closeted politicians and helping others to be more open about their identities when I haven’t been very open with you.
So here are my identities. I originally tried to arrange them from least offensive to most but I couldn’t figure out which would upset you most—so here they are in no particular order.
I am genderqueer.
That means I don’t identify as a woman or a man. My gender identity is somewhere between and outside of these. I feel like this is something you know about me but understand differently. Or maybe I’m wrong and you’ll dismiss this entirely. But it’s an important part of how I think of myself and interact with others. The more closely I bring myself in line with this identity, the less anxious I feel.
Here are some links:
I am Pagan.
This is not a recent development. This didn’t even happen during college. I became Pagan when I was 16. There came a point when Christianity just didn’t fit me anymore, and paganism felt like home. Paganism has been the saving grace in my life and has supported me through some of the roughest patches I’ve been through better than any friend.
More specifically, I’m a pantheistic polytheist. I believe that the universe itself is divine and that the same divinity that radiates through the universe also what makes up the world’s deities and that they are essentially faces of that same divinity (though more distinct than some people give them credit for being). I don’t know where I stand on life after death but it’s something I’m figuring out and it’s not so important to me right now.
Regardless, my religion has played a huge part in my life and it’s very important to me.
I had some links to post here but I can’t find most of them. If you have questions you’re free to (respectfully) ask them.
I am pansexual.
This is also something I’ve known for a long time. Well, that’s not entirely true. I knew I liked girls how I liked guys since I was 13, but for a long time I thought I was asexual because I never felt really strongly physically attracted to anyone. But then I met Manny my freshman year and became all too aware of what sexual attraction was and I realized later that there were many women I was sexually attracted to as well.
Pansexuality is being attracted to all genders (note: all genders, not every person I meet). I think why I prefer the term pansexual over bisexual is because of my identity as a genderqueer person. I recognize that there are people that don’t fit the binary and I’m just as attracted to them as I am men or women.
I hid this, even from myself at times, for ages mostly because of how the South can be toward LGBT folk. I saw what gay and bisexual people went through in high school and I couldn’t bear the idea of going through it too. But as I came to college I found people up here didn’t care about it as much. I felt safer, more secure. Through a series of events I’ve become involved with the Queer Student Union. I’ve advocated in the residence halls for better diversity education regarding the LGBTQ community, I’m a part of campaigns to improve campus climate for LGBTQ people, I’ve given talks to my staff about LGBTQ issues and made myself available to answer questions. I’m coordinating events for Pride Week and presenting panels. I’m doing a lot of good because of this. I’m helping people.
Here are some links:
I’m telling you all this because I really value having a completely open and honest relationship with you. I hate hiding things from you and it’s been a pain to keep this all from you for so many years. I’m telling you this because when you tell me you love me no matter what, I believe you, I put my trust in you, I have absolute faith that you actually do. That my not being completely a woman and liking other women and identities inbetween and that I honor a different god than you doesn’t get in the way of you loving me.
I’m not looking for you to agree with me. But I will not settle for anything less than complete acceptance. None of this “love the sinner, hate the sin” business. You’re my mom and I expect that you’re capable of loving all of me. If mothers can love their serial killer sons, I have no doubt you can love me as I am.
I highly recommend the documentaries Fish Out of Water and For the Bible Tells Me So. They’re both on Netflix. And they carefully outline what exactly the Bible has to say about same sex relations. Which is in effect next to nothing.
I’m also telling you this because the process I go through of becoming this version of myself, a version that’s much closer to my anxious high school self rather than my current more actualized college self, is downright destructive. And the cognitive dissonance that ensues is stressful. One of the reasons I avoid going home is because I don’t feel like myself there. I don’t feel like I can talk about anything and it be ok. I’m constantly censoring myself. Constantly hoping you don’t pick up on things. And that version of myself that I pick up when I go home is rooted in a lot of selfhatred, a lot of hurt. The personae itself is destructive and it’s time I laid it to rest.
And I’m telling you all this now because I finally feel like I’m at a point where I can accept your reaction either way or anywhere along the spectrum of reactions there are. I’m secure enough in these identities not to second guess them if you happen to react poorly to them, confident enough not to be destroyed by your distaste. I’m an adult and I trust myself to know myself in my entirety. I’m telling you this because these identities mean enough for me to risk it all by telling you.
I’m sorry for dropping all of these on you at once and I don’t want you to reply right away (unless of course you suspected all of this already and have totally accepted me).
Take time, think it over.
But as always I am—
Your loving daughter,