I have always envied gay men for only having to come out to their loved ones once. So, at the family Thanksgiving Feast or National Coming Out Day they get to declare to the world “I’m Gay!” They either make their proclamation subtly as Aunt Lorraine passes the mashed potatoes or dramatically with Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” blaring in the background, complete with a hot pink feather boa, a spotlight and fog. One and done. Over and Out. Either way, I’m jealous.
I fully understand that every coming out journey is unique and different and must be navigated in such a way that is most comfortable for the person. Coming out can be stressful, risky and even dangerous. I acknowledge that there is not one correct way to come out to your family, friends, partners, significant others, and co-workers. As a trans person you also have to come out medically, professionally, and socially. Every person’s coming out is an arduous journey. Coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing one’s own sexual orientation, identity, or gender expression. Coming Out is a personal and brave decision.
You see, I didn’t come out to my immediate family until this year. All these years I said nothing. Nothing about being gay. Nothing about being intersex. Nothing about my transition. NOTHING! I was not about to ruin a Thanksgiving feast mainly because I’m a big girl and I like to eat. Besides, a lot of preparation and cooking went into that dinner. And in my family the rule is “You don’t fuck up Thanksgiving with no bullshit or drama!” Plus my family already thinks I’m dramatic and have to be the center of attention so the Diana Ross themed announcement would have not been impressive. More likely expected.
This is my Coming Out Story.
Picture it: St. Louis, MO. July 28, 2019. 7:30AM. It was warm and sunny morning. Today was the day I officially start the final process of extracting Leon out of my life. Leon Augustus Braxton, Jr. is my birth name. I needed to start getting rid of his clothes. But there was so much. Suits, dress shirts, ties, socks, dress shoes, tennis shoes, pants, shorts, t-shirts, polos, etc. Some with the tags still on them. This process is going to take a while. Leon was a clothes hound. I might keep a few t-shirts. I don’t know. However, I was just sitting on my bed, staring at all of his clothes, drinking a cup of coffee, and thinking where do I begin? Oh…. BTW…… I’m also crying. Nobody told me this part would be so dang emotional.
I needed to talk to my oldest brother Elbert. Hearing his voice and reassuring words always makes me feel better. But he would know something was troubling me just by the sound of my voice, no matter how much I faked happiness. He has always had this uncanny knack of knowing when I was upset and needed to confess something to him. But I needed to talk to him. Ugh but I hadn’t come out to him yet. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
I had wanted to get rid on Leon’s clothes today but somehow this seemed more important. This was the day I feared the most. The day I couldn’t take the hiding any longer and come out to my brother. But I must tell him everything. Everything. The whole kit and caboodle. I literally sat on the side of the bed for hours pondering and rehearsing my speech, delivery and information before I made the call. I was petrified with fear of losing him.
I finally made the call. I got my brother and sister in law on the phone and we started the conversation with our usual greetings, salutations, and idle chit chat. Then I told them I had something very important to tell them. I started at the beginning and left nothing out. Including name change. NOTHING! I had just come out. Not once. Not twice. But thrice. Gay man. Intersex individual. Transgender woman. Bam! There it was. The Hat Trick. The Triple Crown. The Threepeat. A 3 Pointer. 3 strikes and I was Out!!!! Whew! What a relief.
Their response was classic. They said they already knew I was gay. They’re not stupid nor blind. Plus I didn’t hide my gayness very well. And here I thought I was fooling them all these years. They could tell I was changing by the way I looked the last time I came home. They didn’t want to say anything until I was ready to talk about it. It wasn’t their place to bring it up. They knew when I was ready to talk about it I would. They still love me unconditionally and nothing can change that. I’m still the same person just a different package. Family is family.
Now we have no secrets. EVERYTHING is out in the open. I feel so relieved. A weight has been lifted. So once again the anticipation was worse than the outcome. For the first time in my life I can go to sleep without fear of anyone finding out about the true me. I can live my life openly, authentically, unapologetically, and fear free. The shroud of secrecy has been removed. I finally feel at peace. One path of my journey has ended. But more paths lay ahead. I am ready to travel them.
July 28, 2019 was my Liberation Day, better yet, my Coming Out Day. The day I came out…in triplicate.