It’s dark. Red taillights and white headlights assault my eyes as I write. My modern family and I are back on Interstate-5 after completing a much-needed pit stop, food break, and gas fill-up en-route to Santa Cruz, California. No, it’s not a re-enactment of vacation with Chevy Chase. It’s a milestone moment. Our oldest daughter is off to college, and we’re all part of the adventure – my former wife, my partner, our youngest daughter, myself and of course the college girl. Rather than be lulled into sleep by the mesmerizing road reflectors repetitively flashing by, I suddenly came to the realization, I’m about to “come out” once again!
Of course, I have no intention of showing up on campus donned in a “I’m Gay, Sorry You’re Not” rainbow shirt. For crying out loud, UC Santa Cruz is the home of the Banana Slugs (literally the school mascot), and I fear being slugged to death by those less enlightened. Although, Santa Cruz is a pretty laid back, whatever rocks your boat corner of the world, I’m pretty sure my fears are unfounded. Or, maybe I’m experiencing a pot hangover from my yesteryears. Regardless, I will "come out" in many ways the moment I start moving my daughter into her on campus apartment.
There’ll be her roommates to meet, more than likely their parents, and whoever happens to arrive and cross paths with our contemporary family in the chaos of Freshmen Move-In day. Not only is it new territory for my little princess, it’s another moment of truth in moving through life. A life where I will always find situations where I stand at the cross roads of “Do I say anything about my sexuality or not?” Personally, I don’t feel compelled to wear my “I’m a friend of Dorothy’s name badge!” While it always leads intriguing and tantalizing conversations, it’s really nobody’s damn business whether I’m gay or straight. On the other hand, I’m not ashamed of my gay DNA (GDNA), and I always find subtle ways to wave my rainbow flag in the face of the unsuspecting, catching them totally off guard. More than once, I’ve dropped the nonchalant “P-Bomb,” in casual conversation, watching the innocent listener wrestle with “Hi I’m Rick, this my partner (p-bomb) Daniel, my ex-wife Shannon, and our daughters Chelsea and Simone.” (Names lovingly changed to protect my beautiful family.)
Depending on tightness of the gray matter between the listeners ears, they're either cool with meeting the real deal “Modern Family” because they're open-minded, or they giggle nervously and quickly move on, out of fear of catching the bug that turns people ga, ga, GAY! It’s all good. I’ve been through this enough to know when to “hold ‘em, and know when to "fold ‘em.” There’s no intentional agenda in my “coming out” in various circumstances, nor shame in letting it be my little secret. The way I look at it, I’m not going to make myself uncomfortable so that you can be more comfortable. That’s out of alignment with my core beliefs and values, and I stopped doing that the moment I steppout to be authentically who I am. However, it wasn’t always this easy. It’s taken years of repeatedly internally shaking in the corner, hiding behind my wallflower of truth, fearing any number of outcomes. I see you shaking your head. Whether you’re gay or not, there’s some little piece of each of us that hides the truths of our closet back, in social situations for fear of “What will they think?”
Honestly, gay or straight, we’re all on the same continuum, a lifetime of “coming out” of something. A challenge, loss, disappointment, even the occasional shattered dream; they're all part of “coming out.” And here you thought this was uniquely a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender cross to bear. Sorry to disappoint, it’s a human condition. However, for my LGBT brothers and sisters, especially those who’ve cracked the closet door open just enough to catch a glimpse of rainbow living, coming out is a not a one-time event, is a lifetime experience. If that sounds scary, then I invite you to consider this one thing.
If it’s important enough for you to come out and be you in the moment,
it’s important enough to come out and be you for a lifetime.
No, you don’t have to tell everyone, nor be the Grand Marshall of every pride parade from coast-to-coast. What’s fabulous about those of us of the rainbow persuasion is, if we love ourselves enough to be ourselves, then we also love ourselves enough to be “out” in an authentic way that aligns with our own values and beliefs. Being out in our own way is the ultimate rush and the best medicine for truly embracing that coming out is not a one-time event!
Now I’m going to go find me some Banana Slugs and let them know big daddy’s in the house moving his well-adjusted, beautiful, grown-up, perfectly normal princess onto campus. The princess who’s been raised by two gay dads, a heterosexual mom, and of course been aggravated by a younger sister who can’t wait to get home and take over her sisters room. Here’s to happy college years.
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