Coming out is always brave. It involves the slaying of all fears imagined and real. It embraces all outcomes. It is not a leap off a balance bar with arms up, knees bent and applause. It is taking the chance that there may not be any oxygen over there. And, for most, there is a knowing that there will be no going back. The closet door is perceived, at the opening, as one way.
Who won’t love me? Who will ridicule me? Who will never sit as close to me with free flowing laughter? Will my teams arc around me just a bit? Will prayers pray, will judges judge, will comdemners condemn. Only bravery will save us from this drowning in guesses. No matter how imagined, how outlandish, how uncalled for, there is nothing certain about coming out.
I had nothing to lose. (maybe the boy I had to tell to move out) And yet at that first kiss I knew everything changed. Everything. I was twenty-eight. It was 1976. My mother told me she would burn in hell for this sin. A new height in guilt though I had dismissed the notion of hell long before so it held no leverage for me. But I was luckier than most, older than many, independent and madly in love. The remarkable advantage I had was that falling in love was my motivation for coming out.
For me it was not a secret camp crush. It was not a frightening fissure in my being that must be denied. It did not fester like a sore that had to be bandaged with fake dates or, worse, a fake marriage with children. My coming out was not bursting after years of painful lies swirling inside.
My coming out is a sword I use, often with great glee, as I look like an old nun or a third grade teacher who could well be in the front pew on Sunday. POW. Hey, I am queer. How do you like me so far? And most get over it, of course I don’t want to date their children. My mission is much more dangerous. I live to tell their queer kids that they are not sick, they are not sinners, they are not broken.
But another of the intersections of me is that I am a feminist. I not only want equality under the law. I not only live as if all are equal. I work to change the comfortable, culturally embedded notion that women don’t count. At least, women don’t count as much.
It’s been interesting to hear all the cheers for Jason Collins. It was top of the news last night on all the commercial channels. And there have been so many chirping high fives ~ from the Obamas and Lakers and Queerville. Only Jimmy Fallon opened last night with, “As Martina said, “Hell-o?!” This morning my facebook newsfeed had a few pieces on the women who have come out ~ published in Mother Jones to Feministing.
Brittney Griner came out last week too. Martina, Billie Jean, Renee, why even list them all? The silent deafening lessons have been broadcast at dinner tables, in classrooms, ball fields across the nation; girls don’t matter as much. Girls don’t have so much to lose. Girls don’t make that much money. Sasha and Malia got the memo: Mom’s got Jason’s back.