On National Coming Out Day in 2007, I got fired from a job at a company for totally sucking at selling overpriced educational software to schools that barely had enough money to pay their teachers. Yes, it sucked to get fired. But you know what else? It opened the most amazing doors for me in being able to be who I am, both professionally and personally. Six months of unemployment was totally worth that.
On National Coming Out Day in 2014, I’m spending the day in a town where I lived for 23 years and was afraid to even think about coming out of anything. Except now, I’m proudly wearing a t-shirt that promotes equality in marriage in Missouri with my legal wife who’s 37 weeks pregnant. That’s a normal day-in-the-life for me.
Some of those seven years in between were pretty sketchy, I’m not going to lie. The ones before that were even worse. For people I’ve met over the past seven or eight years, they know the Wendy that’s confident in who she is and not afraid of much. The Wendy prior to that put on a pretty good front, but it wasn’t until I was truly free to be me that I just felt wholly complete and just genuinely good about myself.
It wasn’t until 2007 until I was finally like, really? Nobody was holding me in the closet. In fact, I never really came out of the closet with some formal party. That wasn’t me. I just lived a life that was authentically mine and didn’t feel like it was necessary to explain it. I was fortunate enough to surround myself with people that loved and supported me for who I am, not what I am (other than awesome). There was nothing special I had to do aside from just being myself. Those are the people you need in your life, you know?
I mean, I don’t know if that was the right thing to do for everyone else in my life, but it was exactly what worked for me. I never told my parents I was gay (someone did that for me – NEATO), although I suspect they knew. I only wrote a coming out letter to my grandparents, because it felt like the right thing to do. I sent my brother an email after he’d met Amelia a few times saying, “hey, you know Amelia and I aren’t just friends, right?” and he was like, “yeah” and finished the rest of the email like I was a dummy for even assuming he thought otherwise.
My counsel to you, anyone at all reading this, is to just be yourself. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. It took me many years to be able to do it; it was no cakewalk. There are people out there who will love and respect and support you as you are. Give the people in your life some credit. Not everyone’s going to be high-fiving you about who you are all the time, but that’s going to happen anyway. Gay, straight, Yankees fan, Twilight Groupie, Justin Bieber hater, bearded hipster who will know everything about how to trim beard – someone somewhere isn’t going to agree with who you are and that’s okay. There’s going to be plenty other that do and you gotta come out of that closet and find ’em.
If you need somewhere to start, I’m right here. Let’s celebrate YOU together.