IT'S TIME TO CELEBRATE YOUR GAY STRAIGHT QUEER BI TRANS QUESTIONING POLY PAN ASEXUAL SELF.
The coming out process is as diverse and unique as the individuals experiencing it. For a few of us, it’s like ripping off a band-aid: mildly painful, but quick. For most of us, however, it’s a continual process of unwrapping a gauze that encircles all aspects of our lives. Sometimes we are pushed out of the closet by external circumstances. At other times, we simply put one foot in front of the other and walk out on our own.
OTHERS OF US DON’T COME OUT UNTIL THE PAIN OF “STAYING IN” HAS BECOME UNBEARABLE.
The benefits of coming out are great, but they might not be quickly or readily apparent. It’s unlikely that we’ll make an announcement over our school intercom, to the sound of wild applause. We don’t get a shiny new toaster for being the 500,000th person to come out. But the bounty of inner cash and prizes is magnificent. It comes in the form of self-respect, integrity and congruence. We stop relating to ourselves as if we were broken, flawed, or perverse and we can finally release the dead weight of our secrets.
I hear about body shame, eating disorders, chronic dieting, and body dysmorphia on an almost daily basis in my psychotherapy practice. Seems like everyone with a heartbeat and a Facebook account thinks that their thighs are too big. Somehow, fitting in with our peers is predicated on fitting into our skinny jeans. This is sad and it is dangerous. The emotional byproducts of negative body image are poor self-esteem, isolation, self-neglect and a hungry loneliness that's never quite satisfied.
If we take a page from almost any ladymag, we end up with more than just tips on how to f*ck like a vampire or undress for success. It’s an oversimplification for sure, but without proper community and self-support, internalized messages from popular culture can turn us into bullies against our own bodies.
AND THESE DAYS, OUR VAGINAS ARE NEXT ON THE HIT LIST.
Let's be honest. Most of us have an ongoing list of reasons that WE JUST KNOW, render us utterly undatable, keeping us lonely forever. My list may or may not include items such as:
- Not exactly over my ex.
- I'm a total know it all.
- Violently competitive.
- Inexplicable need to use foul language around children.
If you're like me, you keep the list in your wallet so you can show dates when there's an awkward silence over dinner.
Others take another route, and try to hide these qualities, feeling ashamed or embarrassed of them. This plan often back-fires somewhere around the 4th month of the relationship, in which words like "sister wife," "sleep apnea machine," or "family week at rehab," enter the daily lexicon of the relationship, to your partner's astonishment and probable disappointment.