National Coming Out Day

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Reflections on Outness

Logos for National Coming Out Day by Marius Valdes

By my count, I've been out for 17 years, since late winter of 1993, when I began telling my family that I had a girlfriend, and that they would be meeting her at my college graduation. I suppose I'd been out to varying degrees before that (out to friends, out in class) but for me opening out my family was my first sense of "coming out." My family was very encouraging, and I felt very lucky to have come out in such supportive circumstances.

What I've learned over and over since then is that coming out is never over. This is true for a couple of different reasons. One is that we change and as we change we need to keep coming out. Another is that we continually meet new people who were not part of our lives during our initial coming out process and so we are always coming out to the new people in our lives. 

I came out first as lesbian. I thought that I had left romantic and sexual relationships with men behind when I discovered my desire and love for women. Later I met a man who made me rethink that. I found myself deeply attracted to him despite his gender and realized that I'd created an artificial wall for myself between my ideas about gender and my ideas about sexual orientation. In terms of gender I was willing to accept a range of expression and a lack of anything more that socially constructed reality behind the discreet categories of "man" and "woman." Indeed in thinking about my own gender I much more often felt like someone who existed in the borderlands between gender categories than like someone who was entirely "woman". Yet, during my process of opening up sexually, I had kept a tight boundary around my sexual orientation, linking it only to women for a couple of years until this man caused me to reexamine my desires.

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