I was standing on the front porch of my husband’s apartment building in Washington, DC, a couple of months ago when I heard the sound of a car door slamming.
It was my husband, James, sitting on his front stoop, watching the TV with the curtains drawn.
James was not happy with me telling him I was gay.
He didn’t want to know about it.
My heart sank.
James, a gay man who’d been married to my wife for 10 years, didn’t really want to talk about his sexual orientation.
I told him, “I’ve been telling you that I’m not gay, and that I was raised in a straight family, and I’ve never been in a relationship with a man.
I just don’t understand what it’s like to be gay in the context of our marriage.”
My husband laughed and said, “Yeah, well, I don’t know.”
And he walked away.
“You’ve got to stop being so judgmental,” he said.
I’ve heard similar stories from many people over the years, but for the most part, people don’t want or need to talk openly about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
People think they are in the minority, they think it’s so dangerous.
They don’t feel comfortable talking about their sexuality.
The problem is, we all feel comfortable speaking up and speaking out about our own experiences.
But we are all still closeted and alone.
In fact, many people still struggle with coming out in public.
This is the most dangerous part of our closet: the stigma surrounding our sexual orientation and gender identity and what we’re able to do as a society.
Many people don, for lack of a better word, “come out” as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, or queer-identified.
It’s like they’ve been “outed.”
It can be incredibly difficult to accept your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and still be accepted in society.
But if you are able to come out to your friends, family, co-workers, your children, and your partner, then there’s a chance you’ll be accepted and supported by others in your community.
And the chances are, you will be loved and appreciated.
Coming out in the privacy of your own home is not the easiest thing to do, and it can be especially difficult if you have a history of bullying, violence, or abuse.
But coming out can be so important for those who are trying to make a better world.
For my family, coming out as gay or lesbian has been a lifelong goal.
I was born a boy, and the last time I was out to my family was when I was about 13 years old.
My mom took me out of school when I told her that I wasn’t sure if I was transgender.
I wanted to come to school dressed as a girl, so my parents told me to take a picture of my body and call it a yearbook.
The day after I took that picture, my mother told my dad to give me a new name, because she couldn’t bear the thought of me being referred to as a boy again.
That’s when I came out to him.
The next day, I met my first lesbian friend.
When my mother found out, she was very upset.
“That’s so sad.
You’re the only lesbian I’ve ever known,” she said.
“I didn’t know how to feel.
But I think it gave me hope that I could be open about who I really was.”
After that first outing, my mom kept me in the closet.
“We just wanted to have a family,” she told me.
My dad, too, didn, and he was very supportive of me coming out.
I have no doubt that I would have made it through high school without him, even if it had taken a lot of courage to do so.
The support from my family and my friends was instrumental in my coming out journey.
And in fact, my family has always been supportive.
When I was younger, I was very alone.
“If you’re going to come forward, you have to come back with a new face,” my mother said.
That meant going to therapy, talking to friends and family, going to gay clubs, and working on my craft.
My family has been supportive of my coming-out journey.
“When I’m in therapy, I tell them, I’m gay,” my father said.
When he first started coming out, my father was terrified.
“How do you tell your family?” he asked.
But eventually, I learned to trust him.
He had been my first therapist, and by the time I finished therapy, he knew I was OK with my sexuality.
“It’s ok, James.
You just need to come home and tell them,” he told me over and over.
“The only way you can come out is if you