The Day It All Changed

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

LGBT Rainbow Flag

Being one of the L’s of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning), I often get the question, “When did you come out?” or “What’s your coming out story?”

As if.

Brace yourself. This is a long one…

Some days it doesn’t bother me. Some days the question is mildly annoying. And other days I want to scream when I hear anything close to a suggestion that there’s one day or time that I came out of my proverbial closet. It’s kind of like asking an author what his or her book is about. Kind of.

I actually haven’t been asked this question in a while, but I have been thinking more on this topic lately. The topic of coming out, of being out, and of sharing that with the rest of the world. Partly because I recently had someone tell me that they had to really do some digging on my site to find out whether or not I’m gay. And partly because long before that I was thinking about how best to update my “about” page to be more of an actual about page versus just my philosophies on coaching and a few books I’ve recently read.

I’d asked a colleague to take a look at my website and give me some feedback, as she was relatively new to it and I value her opinion. She came back with some great points and suggestions, and a couple of questions. One of which was more of an observation. “So, I wondered what your connection was to the LGBTQ community since you have a page and a free coaching program dedicated to it…” The observation made me think. Was it a glaring omission of who I am? Was it a conscious deletion of this part of my self? A mindful evasion of truth? Just let me think for a second!

Back to that in a minute…and in the meantime…what’s my coming out story, anyway?

I came out to my father in 2001 after being in a committed relationship for nearly a year because I didn’t want him to think it was just a phase. It didn’t really go as planned.

I came out to my grandmother in 2000 over lunch at her house, after she made a sweet reference to my “adorable little friend that comes over” with me all the time. (She wasn’t really surprised, and even admitted that while she didn’t understand it fully, she might have given it a try in her younger years.)

I came out to my best friend in 1999 just before we planned to be roommates because I figured I’d have to explain all my new women friends, as I was just beginning to date. As it turned out, she had some “new women friends” of her own to explain, and I had just one woman friend to explain the entire time we were roomies.

I came out to my boss in a burst of tears over some poor work performance in an attempt to explain that I really didn’t understand what was going on in my life and might need some time off to figure it out. I did figure it out, but I didn’t get any time off to do so.

I came out to the world when I posted my first women-seeking-women ad on the Yahoo personals because I didn’t exactly know where to “meet” women who were seeking other women.

I came out to a group of friends over several buckets of beer, and was immediately questioned on how many of them I’d had a crush on over the years.

I came out to my aunt and uncle after my grandmother died because I couldn’t take hiding it anymore.

I came out to my grandfather after he died because I didn’t deserve whatever lashing out he’d have given me for it if he were still alive. (Oh, he knew…nothing hides the giant pink elephant in the room, we just didn’t talk about it.)

Story after story after story of coming out. Each time it’s something different. Something new. A new fear. A new anxiety. Will my father disown me and tell me I’m going to Hell because that’s what he believes? Will my grandmother love me any less? Will my friends still like me? Will my boss find a reason to fire me? Will my grandfather write me out of the will because Grandma isn’t around to keep him from doing it anymore? What will my brother say about me when he goes to his bible class? What will that stranger do if I keep holding my girlfriend’s hand while we’re walking down the street?

I wish I could say these are thoughts, fears, anxieties of the past. Some are. Some are not. It’s all a process. A process that’s part of me. As much a part of me as learning how to be social or how to recite a poem in front of a group of people or how to make friends or how to use my voice in a relationship or how to honor my self in my daily life. You don’t just figure it out because by the time you do, everything changes, you change, I change.

I get that amongst lesbians we ask each other what our “story” is, and understand that we’ll pick one that was a big deal or one that was funny or one that we didn’t tell last time just to mix things up. But I have to admit that I’m tired of it. Not because I’ve been telling my coming out stories for so many years that I’m physically tired of telling them. It’s not even a “because”. I’m tired of coming out.

Back around to the glaring omissions

When was the last time a straight woman had to announce to the world that she prefers dating men? When was the last time a straight man had to note on his blog bio that he’s heterosexual? I guess no one has to do anything. I’m reminded of the old, “I can’t make you anything but a sandwich” line my mom used to say. We all choose how we put ourselves out there.

Some of us sway bright colored rainbow flags or wear dresses and heels and wigs when some people think we should be wearing dockers, a button-up and some hush-puppies. Some of us wear cargo shorts and baseball caps and look more masculine than some people think we should. Some people are femme, some people are butch, some people are bears, some people are queens, some people are somewhere in between and don’t know where they belong, and some fit all of the above. More process.

And then there’s me. I’m just me. I haven’t worn a dress since one of my best friends got married a few years back and “made” me a sandwich wear that two-tone pink bridesmaid dress on a hot NY day in the middle of July. I’m more of a jeans & t-shirt kind of girl. I like cargo shorts because I don’t carry a purse. I wear flip-flops 340 days of the year. I wear a silver HRC ring when I go out of the house if I remember to wear a ring at all. I have a puka shell necklace that only comes off for massages or softball games. I like baseball more than most women (and probably more than a lot of men). I read the New Yorker once a month even though it comes on a weekly basis. I like to cook, and I wash dishes as I go. I take my dog for a run 2-3 times a week, although I believe he deserves it every day. I’ve watched regular porn and lesbian porn and nothing measures up to the real thing, so I don’t really watch any of it anymore at all. I have no desire to be a man, although when I was 10 I wanted to be a boy so bad I actually stuffed my underwear with toilet paper and rode my skateboard down the street to 31 Flavors to see if anyone would think I was one. (No one did.) I enjoy my womanhood in my adulthood, although I curse mother nature and my “aunt” every 26 days—and I imagine there will be more cursing once she’s started to get phased out. Relatively speaking, I’ve missed my mom a lot more than I’ve missed my dad since either of their deaths. I don’t feel guilty about that anymore. I have always wanted to be a mother, and feel more ready than ever to make that happen in the next couple of years. While I’m not necessarily proud of everything I’m responsible for in my past, I can’t go back and change any of it, so I have no regrets.

All of that, and I wonder what I’m supposed to put in my bio. Certainly none of that made the first round. Not much of anything made the first round.

I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I know, I already said that. But what I mean is that I’m a simple girl. I like to be comfortable. I like to get my hands dirty, and I’m less likely to get my hands dirty when I’m all dressed up. And really, my personality is just the same. She likes to be comfortable. Casual.

Actually as I’m writing this, that’s not it at all.

It’s more that I’m just not comfortable shouting from the rooftops that I’m a lesbian. I’m not ashamed of it, don’t get me wrong. I’m just not really a shout from the rooftops kind of girl. I’m more of a hey, how’s it going? girl. I’m more of a “that’s awesome, my girlfriend and I love that restaurant” kind of girl.

I don’t mind being a lesbian. In fact I love it. Mainly because it’s part of who I am. Part. Not the whole. So while I don’t feel the need to shout from the rooftops that I’m a lesbian, understand that it’s for the same reason that I don’t feel the need to shout from the rooftops that I wear flip-flops 95% of the time or that I love rescue dogs and try to be as green as I know how to be; it’s just not me to shout anything from the rooftops. And the whole L word is just a part of me. Like that GBTQ or H word is just a part of who you are.

So when I say that I’m tired of coming out, what I’m really tired of is the fear, the anxiety, the process of coming out. I just want to be me. There’s not just one story to my coming out. There’s not just one story to being me. But…

there is just one me. I can only pray that I’ll never tire of her.

Flag photo via Wikimedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Rainbow_flag_breeze.jpg 
  • Brava, Dian. Beautiful, true, vivid.

  • andreaowen

    Love this, just perfect.

  • This is so true. Coming out is barely ever this neat little story that happens all at once and then is over. For me, it was a very gradual process, and it certainly never ends. A brave and wonderful post.

  • Beautiful – this is soooo beautiful, so grace-filled, so kind and REAL!

    “There’s not just one story to being me. But…there is just one me. I can only pray that I’ll never tire of her.” A – fricking – men (does that make sense in print? I'm saying Amen – with a little half assed “f” word in the middle)!!

  • Dian,
    I don't know where to start other than to say, I'll never tire of you, and thank God there is one beautiful one of you. This is so you. I can feel you shining through in all the spaces between the words. What a wonderful introduction to Dian, in all her beauty. A – fricking – men (as Karen so aptly wrote).
    I so love that I know you, even if it's just virtual knowing…at least until we meet at a Giants/Dodgers game.

  • AlanaSheeren

    I love this. As Julie said, I can feel you shining through in all the spaces between the words. You are a you who is worth knowing in all of your wholeness and I am honored and excited to be someone who gets to, at least a little bit, know you. Crazy sentence. Seriously – I'm singing inside from this.

  • Dian I love this post. There is only one you and she is beautiful, authentic, and honest. I agree with the girls that you can feel you shining through in this post. All sparkly and rocking those cargo shorts and flip flops! I absolutely adore you, and look forward to getting to know you better. p.s. I love that your Grandma said that in her day she may have tried it. I got a good giggle out of that. My Grandma was pretty spunky and it made me think of her.

  • whollyjeanne

    and now i think we see why i chose the name “whollyjeanne”. wearing too many different bios is downright exhausting.

    ps1:i see one of us is sticking to the plan about writing regularly and writing more than 10 minutes before bedtime – yay, you – the one and only you.

    ps2: personally, i think this makes a mighty fine bio:
    “I haven’t worn a dress since one of my best friends got married a few years back and “made” me a sandwich wear that two-tone pink bridesmaid dress on a hot NY day in the middle of July. I’m more of a jeans & t-shirt kind of girl. I like cargo shorts because I don’t carry a purse. I wear flip-flops 340 days of the year. I wear a silver HRC ring when I go out of the house if I remember to wear a ring at all. I have a puka shell necklace that only comes off for massages or softball games. I like baseball more than most women (and probably more than a lot of men). I read the New Yorker once a month even though it comes on a weekly basis. I like to cook, and I wash dishes as I go. I take my dog for a run 2-3 times a week, although I believe he deserves it every day.”

    ps3 then i'm gone: okay. so you wear flip-flops 340 days a year. i checked, and iCal says there are 352 days a year, so this inquiring mind can't help but wonder: what kind of shoes do you wear the other 12 days?

  • Re:

    ps1: oh, don't get me wrong, i'm still writing 10 minutes before bedtime, too! LOL!!

    ps2: i will strongly consider this. i'm not kidding.

    ps3: iCal says 352 days in the year? forget about my shoes on the other 12 days, i want to know what happened to days 353-365?! but to answer your question: uggs when i'm cold; heels for a wedding recently; tennis shoes for running (but only for running—flip flops back on immediately thereafter); and either the casual brown shoes or casual shoes usually fit the rest of the days. =)

  • I bet your grandma and my grandma would have had some fun reminiscing about their spunk!

  • Thank you, Alana. This post allowed me to sing inside, too =)

  • Oh, let's PLEASE meet at a Dodgers/Giants game!! I've never been to Pac Bell Park and it's on my list….

  • Oh, let's PLEASE meet at a Dodgers/Giants game!! I've never been to Pac Bell Park, and it's on my list….

  • makes more sense than a full assed “f” word in the middle!!

  • Thank you, Kylie =)

  • Beautiful, Dian. Simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing you.

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