Reply To: A few days in as a TGH sister

DeeAnn Hopings


There’s no set way to have The Conversation as people are different, circumstances are different, age can come into play, etc. However, I think there are some basic thoughts to consider.

I am reminded of a quote by Rachel Maddow:

“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.”

This sums up one of the values of coming out. You’ve taken the high ground which is a very different proposition compared to being outed. It is very difficult to get in front of the story if you are outed. Your narrative is lost as someone else is telling your story; at least what they THINK your story is and it will likely tainted by their opinions and prejudices.

Publicly, I came out by making an appearance as the Mistress of Ceremonies of an event put on by my LGBT employee affinity group shortly before I retired. It was in front of ~130 people. In preparation, I had The Conversation with my grown children, 7 or 8 close friends and my then department manager (all separately). My point was that I wanted to explain MY situation rather than have people guessing. I have a pet saying: “In the absence of information, people tend to make up their own.”. Obviously when that happens, it is not a good thing.

I would advise being factual about where things sit for you. All of us have a history of how we got to this place, so it is a matter of explaining how you felt growing up and later. The thing is, if this topic had never come up before, people will likely have a different spin on events that you found to be very painful. Obviously, their thinking needs to be corrected.

I will also say that it is important to get through saying what you want to say before people ask questions. As this is a stressful situation, being interrupted with questions can break your train of thought.

I encourage you to put a fair amount of conscious thought into what you are going to say. I don’t think a script is a good thing, but notes that remind you of a given topic are; nothing complicated, probably just bullet points. That does two things. You’ve distilled what you want to say down to the important points and it will help to not leave anything out.

That brings me to my last point. People often say something about getting counseling. What they don’t know is that something that is an inherent part of us, such as our sexuality and gender identity, is not something that can be changed. There may be talk of conversion therapy. What people don’t realize is that conversion therapy doesn’t really do anything and is often harmful. In 2014 9 founders and/or leaders of conversion therapy organizations put out an open letter renouncing the practice. The article is here with links for the published letter:

Good Luck and let us know how things turned out. Whatever happens adds to the available knowledge here and may be useful for someone else…

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