Why Telling Your Story is More Important Now That You’re Out of the Closet

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I’ve been telling my story all across Long Beach recently. Or, rather, all across the Cal State Long Beach campus. I speak once or twice a week on panels as a part of the Long Beach PFLAG Speakers Bureau when school is in session.

The panels typically consist of 3-5 panelists, and each panelist takes 5-7 minutes to share his or her personal story with coming out. My story goes something like this:

I knew I was different from the time I was eight years old, but I didn’t quite know how until I was ten. That’s when I kissed my best friend on the lips and she stopped talking to me. She then told all her friends (which used to be mine), and they stopped talking to me, too. Right after they’d point and laugh at me in front of all their friends. 

I hid my secret all throughout middle school and high school, trying to fit in with all the cool kids. But it never worked because in trying to be cool I was never being myself. 

I dated guys during high school and even a few years afterward, just to try and prove to myself that I could be normal. My grandfather thought I didn’t get married because I didn’t know how to treat a man. He was probably right. 

Once I was out in the world on my own, I got the courage to explore my sexuality on my terms. With my first real kiss with a woman (although I think it’s safe to say we both felt like girls) I finally understood what all the girls back in school were talking about. They explored their sexuality during puberty in real-time; I was nearly a decade late.

Sometimes I stop the story there, sometimes I share more of my after-coming-out story, and sometimes I share a different part of the story altogether. The whole point of sharing our stories is to have students ask us questions.

Sometimes they ask questions about our stories, or want to know how it felt when XYZ happened. And sometimes they ask really great and important questions about society that don’t really have a finite answer. Those are the questions I love the most, because they create a dialogue that will continue outside of the classroom and into our real lives.

One of those questions got asked today.

I’m paraphrasing here, but this is the gist:

“What do you think about the idea that everyone in the closet needs to come out and declare his or her sexuality? Isn’t that everyone’s personal, private business? I mean, personally I think we should all just accept each other for who we are and leave sexuality where it belongs—with whomever we’re having sex with.”

Amen, sister.

I would love for there to be a day in my lifetime when there is no need to come out of the closet. When the news that someone is gay is just as big as what his or her favorite color is—it’s not something you have to announce because the color is just a part of their most-days wardrobe.

But that day isn’t here yet. And it’s not likely to be until more LGBT folk come out of the closet.

The world needs to see that we’re human, just like everyone else. The people who don’t understand us or think we’re making a choice to be deviants of society (or something in between the two) need to meet us and know that we were born this way. That we could no more be straight than change the color of our skin at birth. That we are actually decent human beings. Or not.

Judge me by the content of my character, not the sex of my partner.

America the brave still fears what we don’t know…

 

Want to know more about PFLAG?
PFLAG - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

 

  • Angie

    Awesome Dian!! I’m so glad you’re out there sharing your story & your authentic self!! Those audiences are very blessed.

  • First, Go You! It’s so awesome that you’re sharing your story, being a part of change.

    Second, I’d like to thank you for including in your story the aspect of your “first” sexual exploration being “a decade late”. In my child and family development classes in college, the relationship development benefits of a safe, inclusive school environment for LGBT middle school and high school students are always overlooked. And those years of learning how to socialize, date, and just deal with the wonderful and sometimes not-so-wonderful aspects of creating relationships are so important for our lives, and our future relationships. Even if we date someone of the opposite sex during high school, it’s just not the same as dating someone with whom we are truly attracted to. The risk factors aren’t the same. We aren’t really invested as to whether or not the guy kisses us at the end of the date. So we never fully experience or learn that vulnerability skill until later in life, usually “a decade late”.

    Thanks so much for sharing that component.

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