Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Daring to Live Authentically

Until now, I haven't discussed my own sexual orientation in this blog, for a couple of reasons: 1) because it shouldn't be an issue, and 2) because it is an issue.

In my opinion, my own sexual orientation shouldn't have any relevance to the issues I discuss here. What's right is right, what's wrong is wrong, and love is love, no matter how or whom the author happens to love personally. My sexual orientation ought to be a non-issue.

However, prevalent homophobia has made sexual orientation an issue. Whether due to religious beliefs or simply personal discomfort, there are many who find only heterosexuality acceptable. While I'm not terribly concerned about strangers who think or feel that way, I have been worried in the back of my mind that someone in my family who assumes I'm hetero might eventually stumble across this blog, figure out that it's mine, and reject or disassociate from me.

This morning, I came out to my father.

I told him that I'm bi, because I know he's familiar with that term. Pansexual would be more accurate, although still imperfect. Panamorous might be better, but it's a relatively unknown term. Labels are kind of a pain in the a--. The point is, I'm not hetero, and saying that I'm "bi" was the best way I could think of to get that point across to my dad, without emphasizing the "sexual," which I'd rather not discuss with him.

Awhile ago, I came out to my mother. It was more of a process, really, than a one-time discussion. She's supportive, but I get the feeling that the concept is rather foreign to her. She asks questions in an odd tone of voice -- a mixture of concern, curiosity, and something else I can't identify. I try to answer her questions as best I can. When she acknowledges my answers, she sounds as though she's taking notes.

My dad said that he isn't concerned about it either way. He said that it's my choice. I said, "Actually, it's not a choice." He said okay, and immediately changed the subject: "So, what else is new?" Then we had a brief conversation about other things. I had been planning to offer him the link to this blog, but decided not to, because he sounded uncomfortable. He sounded as though he had a forced smile on his face. (I came out to him by phone. It was my compromise between seeing him to do it, and taking the easy way out by e-mailing him.) I guess I need to give him time to let it sink in, even though he acted as though it doesn't matter (and, of course, it shouldn't).

I still haven't come out to anyone in my extended family. Most of them are pretty conservative, so it's not something I'm looking forward to. Besides, I am already a black sheep. Telling them I'm bi would be another strike against me.

But they might not all be as closed-minded as I'd previously thought. At a recent family event, someone brought up homosexuality. Someone else said, "There's nothing wrong with that." I don't know how many people were paying attention, but no one raised any objections to that statement.

I learned from the women's movement that the personal is political. Coming out provides human faces for the alphabet soup of LGBTQIA. When queers come out of the closet, prejudiced people see whom they are talking about. It is harder to discriminate against people that one knows and loves.

I have been working on having the courage to be honest about who I really am. It's a process, with many fits and starts, but well worth the effort of perseverance. I want to thank Ed Reggi and Scott Emanuel; the other 16 newlywed couples; Bill Donius; and numerous friends, lovers, and teachers for inspiring me to be me.


Reggi said...

WOW! Mazel tov and congratulations!

It is all about baby steps on both sides. Your family will process as you also process these conversations and interactions.

I loved the title and your word choice "authentically." If we are not authentic then we have missed the boat completely. Labels and terms just suck, but at least you found the best way to make your father [and mother] understand. You spoke from your heart, and that's the best place to start. I think it's great and what a wonderful beginning to what I think is a new positive relationship with your parents.

Bravo and where do I ship the pink toaster? (I guess it should be another color since pink was adopted by the gay coming out movement. What color would best represent pansexuality? Hmmm, I have to think on this one.) I am also flattered that you thanked me and my husband Scott.

Q.P. said...

:-) Your support and your husband's support mean the world to me, Reggi. Thank you again.

And I like rainbows! ^_^

I think rainbows work well for pansexuality.