On the scale of "cake walk" to "real drag", my coming out was a cupcake in need of some icing on the cake. It wasn't horrendous and it wasn't blissful; a common state that I find most of my clients experience as well. Of course, unfortunately, not everyone has a good coming out experience... or a fabulous one, either. What I do know now that I've stepped fully into my gay bear self, is that you don't just come out once. There's a lifetime of coming out experiences.
I was slightly blinded by this light prior to coming out of the closet. In my naïve thinking, I was just going to say, "I'm gay" and that would be about all I had to do with family, friends and co-workers. Silly me. There were, have been, and will continue to be numerous people, places and situations that require me in some way to come out of the closet — whether I like it or not. For the most part, I don't mind coming out, provided I'm the one who gets to decide how and when I reveal that I'm gay. Of course, now that I've been on national TV, write for YourTango and have articles published on Huffington Post, I'm pretty exposed. I'm just thankful that exposure isn't literal. No one needs to see me shirtless.
So what about you? Have you considered how many times you'll have to come out? Here are 12 situations you might not have previously considered.
- Your doctor: This may seem obvious to some, but a lot of people don't think about this one. Make it a priority! You might also consider telling your dentist.
- Hotels: It can be awkward the first time you check in to a hotel as a same-sex couple getting a room with one king-sized bed. It's not like you have to say anything. However, be prepared that some desk clerks will be thrown for a loop and still ask you, "Are you sure you want one bed?" Yes. You do.
- New neighbors: Whether you're moving in or they are, depending on how you typically interact with neighbors, there's a high possibility of outing yourself to the new neighbors — intentionally or accidently.
- Schools, teachers and day care providers: If you have kids, or are planning on having kids, you won't be able to avoid coming out in the school and day care environments. While it could be easier to stay in the closet, in many more of these situations it helps those taking care of your children to know the whole story.
- Accountant or tax preparer: If you're coupled or married, your tax accountant will figure out your sexual orientation if you decide to file joint returns. Of course, you could just hire a LGBT accountant or tax preparer who "gets" you without even trying.
- Financial institutions: Similar to your accountant or tax preparer, the people that you interact with for setting up bank accounts and getting loans will be privy to your sexual orientation when you apply for joint loans, accounts, or even when you assign your beloved as a beneficiary.
- Employer: This outing comes in stages and is 99 percent of the time up to you and how "out" at work you choose to be. However, there will be certain things that arise as a signal of your sexual orientation. For example, applying for health benefits if they are offered for your domestic partner, or as a married same-sex couple. And, of course, there's the assumption that most people in a company will make when you don't ever come to the holiday party with a date. But that's their assumption — until you prove it to be so!
- Insurance company: Not that it really matters if your insurance carrier for your home, car, life, or even health insurance knows your sexual orientation, but it could mean dollars in or out of your pocket. Often times it means money in your pocket because there are benefits for domestic partners or same-sex married couples.
- Financial planner: Similar to accountants, financial institutions, and insurance companies, you may find yourself disclosing your sexual orientation in order to ensure your honey bunny is the beneficiary and co-signatory on the accounts.
- Kids' social circles: Again, if you have kids, not all of their friends will have LGBT parents. Duh! Like you didn't know that. However, it is an interesting situation you will find yourself in every year, no matter the age of your kids. Sleepovers, birthday parties, school functions... they're all potential opportunities to introduce others to the fact you're an LGBT family!
- In an emergency: Not that any of us likes being in an accident or in harm's way! However, it is in these moments that there's a likelihood you may have to disclose your sexual orientation — partnered or not. For example, if asked who you would like to have notified, it may be your same-sex boyfriend/girlfriend, partner, husband/wife. Set the tone in the emergency as best you can so that when they arrive, it doesn't cause more chaos. It shouldn't be an issue, but there still is a high likelihood it will be uncomfortable, given the state of LGBT rights in our country and around the world.
- Service providers: Did you ever think your gardener, pool guy, electrician, plumber, or housekeeper would need to know your orientation? They don't. However, a lot of these people come into your home and will observe personal things that will give them hints. Especially if you and your honey are both there to make decisions about the remodel!
While seas of change are occurring, there's still a huge road ahead until equality and acceptance makes coming out a non-issue. In the words of Maya Angelou, "Until we're all free, no one's free!" A part of being free is never having to hide who we are or question, "Should I say something or not about my sexual orientation?"
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