Reply To: Coming out to family and friends

#103194
DeeAnn Hopings
AMBASSADOR

Antonia:

My experience is quite different from most. I came out at the age of 67. I was about 4 months from retirement. I was the Mistress of Ceremonies for an annual event put on by our LGBT employee affinity group. The audience was about 130 people, including some people that I knew from work. I wasn’t aware of any backlash. During that month of October 2015 I also did a couple of presentations. Although I was not dressed, I ended with a photo of me with Ian Harvie from the event when I was MC. My total for the month was about 210 people. That also included my daughter and son, 7-8 close friends and my then department manager. It seemed important to me to have my story conveyed by Me. Again, no backlash that I know of.

Anyway, compared to some, I think I have been quite fortunate. Whatever people may have been thinking, they chose not to share with me. Since I retired and moved to the desert, people know me as DeeAnn. Very few have ever met Don, or even know that he exists. I am quite acquainted with the lesbian community and once again, if anyone is harboring any ill will, I have not heard about it.

However, situational awareness is important. I have to remind myself that I am in a different arena. Women function very differently from men in social settings. Since I want to be recognized as DeeAnn, it falls to me to monitor my behaviors and just be aware of the expectations that anyone would have for other females.

Back to your question, I don’t think that I ever had anxiety afterwards, but it did occur beforehand. I think one thing that was helpful was that, excluding my kids (now 45 and 39), all the folks that I know personally I’ve known for at least 10 years and much longer in a number of cases. I wasn’t known as a whack job, so I think people listened to what I was telling them. It’s harder to dismiss someone that you have known for some time. I hope that is also working in your favor.

I’m guessing that you did this, but I always tell people that the importance of coming out is that you get to tell YOUR story YOUR way. When we are outed by someone else, who knows how that story will be presented. That’s where things often go sideways as people tend to blend in their prejudices and fears into your story. There’s a quote from Rachel Maddow that I have always found to be significant:

“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.”

Works for me…

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