A while back I was very pleased with myself. I had come out to all my friends and relatives. I had even broached the final frontier and come out at work. I was finally free of the closet! Or was I? As it turns out, coming out never ends. It is a process that you will have to go through time and time again. Each time you meet a new friend, each time you change a job, or move to a new neighborhood the coming out process starts again, with a new set of people.
So what’s the secret to coming out over and over again and keeping your sanity? For me, simply normalizing the process has eliminated nearly all the stress of coming out. Here’s what I mean by normalizing. In conversation, people will often refer to their spouse or boyfriend when discussing weekend plans or describing their life. “My husband and I are going to the movies on Friday.” or “I live with my boyfriend and two kids.” I simply use the same conversation, only substituting the word partner. “My partner and I are going to the movies on Friday.” I don’t announce the fact that I am a lesbian. I live the fact that I am a lesbian. Other people can listen, observe and extrapolate.
Normalizing the coming out process has a few advantages. First of all it de-dramatizes the process. When we de-dramatize coming out we exude confidence and send a message that being gay is OK. When we are comfortable with ourselves, others tend to be more comfortable with us also. When we take our lesbianism in stride, others tend to take it in stride too.
Normalizing also reduces the stress of coming out. Speaking about our partners as a matter of course, just like straight people talk about their spouses, simply becomes a habit, requiring little or no thought. Coming out then becomes a simple and natural part of your daily life.
For those who are coming out for the first time, there really is no way around the jitters and anxiety. But for those of us who have been through the process already, normalizing is a great way to live your life in an open and honest way.