You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘coming out’ tag.

Note: This letter is written mostly as snark, but partly as a genuine list of concerns families have on both sides of coming out.  I found that when I stopped trying to gently explain things and just started pointing out to our family just how ridiculous some of their concerns sounded to us, they began to understand more that our lifestyle choice didn’t have to be a lifestyle change for them, that we were still the people they raised to be responsible adults, and that we weren’t going to destroy our extended families with our poly laser vision.   Maybe don’t print it out verbatim, but feel free to use it as a rubric for conversation.    

Dear Friends and Family,

I have chosen to be open with you about my family and how we choose to live.  This honestly means that I trust you to at least not condemn me, though I hope you’ll try to open your heart and accept my extended family even if you do not understand how or why we have made these choices.  I understand that this may be unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable territory for you to navigate, so I will do my best to give you some helpful highlights to make this holiday season enjoyable for us all!

1.  My partners are people, not aliens or monsters.  They have lives, families, and personalities of their own.  Try having a conversation.  About anything, really.  You don’t need my mediation.

2.  My partners are not made of glass.  See above.

3.  My partners are not homewreckers.  See number 1, and see my husband/wife/etc.  That smile?  That means we’re still happy together and that this is a mutual decision we’ve made.

4.  Remember when I went to prom and you met my date at the door cleaning a shotgun and interrogated him until he had sweat through his cummerbund?  Don’t do that.  We’re all adults now, and the fact that these are people I love and value alone should convince you that they’re good people.

5. There is no need to tiptoe around our children.  They know exactly what they need to know, that they have a family full of people who love them and that there are presents to open.  I assure you they are more concerned about the presents than who sleeps in what bed with whom.

6.  You don’t need to buy us all gifts.  Don’t worry, this is not a scheme to get more stuff.  If you want to include us all, and we hope you do, you can give us something we can all use!  Or feed us.  We LOVE that.

7.  We don’t care if you say Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or Hi.  Just be nice, and smile.

8.  There is no need to worry about us acting inappropriately at your gathering…unless it’s that kind of gathering.  The important thing here is that we’re people, not animals.  Those manners we’ve exhibited for years?  Didn’t disappear when we chose to love more than one person.  Let’s add to that that we won’t discuss our sex lives out loud if you will promise the same.  Lookin’ at you, Grandma.

9.  I understand that members of our extended family may not understand our relationship situation.  If they question you, tell them whatever you feel comfortable saying.  It’s not integral to our household that you use titles.  When I introduce my family to people who might not be poly-friendly I simply say “this is Jane”.  Jane knows she’s my girlfriend.  People who have asked me know she’s my girlfriend.  Let Aunt Gertrude make her own assumptions.  People do it all the time for all kinds of ridiculous things.  Again, see that part about acting appropriately at a family function.  We have this covered.

10.  Please don’t feel like you can’t ask any of us questions or trust us not to make the entire family name look like a circus.  I’m still your son/daughter/etc, and we are all family.  We want to share these celebrations with you, and we are thankful to be included as a family.

Love,

(sign here)

Advertisements

National Coming Out Day logo, designed by arti...

All my life I have been the “unique one” in my family.  At the age of 5 I was determined to be the next Reba McEntire, and it didn’t get any more normal for me from there.  I don’t think it was any surprise to my family that I chose some sort of alternative lifestyle.  I think the main question was which one I would pick and when.  That being said, I never really came out to my family about any of it.  If anything they outed me to themselves.

I have been a decidedly practicing pagan since before I moved out on my own, and my daily practices before that all had pagan flavour no matter what I called it.  I never hid my alter, my tools, or my jewelry.  No one asked.  My dad did ask me once to light a candle for something for him, but beyond that no one mentioned it until I was wedding planning.  No one had heard of a handfasting, and my mother-in-law had been telling people we were having a “traditional Celtic wedding”.  With a guest list of Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Jews, and a few others thrown in for good measure, we expected some questions, and we worked hard to put together a ceremony that was both true to our spirituality and not alienating for our guests.  In the end we heard nothing but good about our ceremony, and it was everything we’d dreamed of.  I guess, in a way, it was our coming out, and we did so my showing how beautiful our spirituality can be.

I’ve felt my sexuality from a very young age.  I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind or heart that I was Pansexual, even if I didn’t have the words for any of it.  My mother never told me I was wrong, and it was just who I was.  I never felt the need to have a “coming out”.  I did try to talk about it a few times, but it never resulted in anything memorable.  Though he had heard me use the word “girlfriend”, the first time my father and I ever discussed it he had met my girlfriend and was more concerned about the trappings of polyamory than anything else.  That was the same weekend Hubby and took him to his first Pride festival.  He wasn’t particularly comfortable, but he went along with us and did what he has always done as my dad.  He watched and listened and didn’t judge or protest.

Our talks with our respective families about polyamory was as close as I have ever come to “coming out”.    Hubby just up and mentioned our girlfriend in conversation one day.  My dad asked me on a visit from California because my grandmother had taken to reading my blog and had given it her own twist.  In each case the conversation was calm and pretty well received.  Both parents met our partners at the time, and once they were sure we were being safe and that we were both happy with the arrangement they were fine.

A lot of my lazy “coming out” process can be attributed to social media.  I only have the energy and time for one Facebook, so all my friends and family get to see the same online persona.  I have had cousins I didn’t know paid that much attention tell me they think it’s really positive how I live.  This past summer I had a really relaxed conversation about polyamory with my grandmother, dad, and a cousin, and no one seemed weirded out about it.

This has been my experience more often than not in my family, and for that I can be grateful, because I know it isn’t the case for everyone.  I am in constant awe and appreciation that I can discuss men who are not my husband with my mother-in-law and she doesn’t even bat an eye.  I feel like I could tell my dad I like to paint myself purple and roll in marshmallows and he wouldn’t judge me unless it led to some kind of jail time.  I’ve never felt the need to make a grand gesture of “coming out” because I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t be accepted for being who I am and acting accordingly.

There is a saying that “coming out” is something we do every time we meet someone new, and it’s true.  I do it whenever I mention my husband and my girlfriend in casual conversation.  I do it whenever our whole family goes somewhere together and I don’t introduce our partners as “friends”.  I do it when I wear rainbow or pentagram jewelry or someone sees my poly heart tattoo.  I do it by how I live, because I refuse to censor myself for strangers.  If you ask about my family, my holidays, or my home I will tell you the truth.  This is just the way it is for me, no matter what day it is.

A conversation came up recently about “coming out”, and it dawned on me that I never did.  I tried once.  When I told my grandmother about my bisexuality she asked me if I was sure, told me she had friends in high school she kissed, insisted that did not make her bisexual, and told me to just not make a scene.  I have never been a fan of big emotional scenes where my family is concerned, and it seemed sophomoric for me to make a big announcement about who I choose to love or who catches my interest.  In that same vein I never really announced when I chose a spiritual path or the fact that Hubby and I are polyamorists either.  People will notice and figure it out or they won’t.  It doesn not affect how we live our lives one way or the other.

I am never sure how my family would have responded had I “come out”.  Sometime after I started high school I started slipping the word “girlfriend” into conversation, and I have never hid my interest in any girl in front of my family.  It recently came to my attention that there is more than I assumed about my life my family never noticed.  I never made an effort to actively hide these things.  I just never saw the need for histrionics or more emotions that I already carried within me.  Perhaps this was not fair to them.  Perhaps they deserved a chance to experience my adolescence with me.  Perhaps a part of my growing, healing, and understanding life and the world around me could have also been a growing and learning experience for them.

When I moved to Pennsylvania there were things that just never came up, which meant there were more things my family never knew about my life.  With the advent and assimilation of my family into social networking sites there was a little more awareness of who I am.  As long as other people resist telling my family things about me that are either misconceptions or ignorant assumptions this has mostly been a positive change in how my family and I relate and communicate.  This blog came a missing link of sorts, as it covers my past as well as my present in more detail than a Facebook status or phone conversation.  I often get more intimate with my readers than I do over the phone or in person, so there will be things here people would not necessarily know otherwise.  This is not a personal slight.  I am just more comfortable in this venue than a face to face situation with most people when it comes to possibly emotional topics.

A while ago my grandmother “friend requested” me on Facebook, and it handed me a choice that I pondered for a while.  Did I deny the request and leave her to wonder why, add her and censor my life, or add her and accept that there may be questions about the adult I have become.  I decided to act like just that, a mature adult with my own life.  I had a smaller version of this dilemma with co-workers, friends from my past, and anyone new in my life.  I realize there are things people may find out about me that are difficult and may spawn questions, but I can not fathom hiding who I am from anyone I love.  If they love me in return they will accept me and share in my joy in my life.  I guess, in a way, this is a form of coming out for me.

What about you, dear readers?  If you live an alternative lifestyle are you “out”?  How did you do it?  How do you life the lifestyle?  I would love to hear from you.  This  blog is about your stories as much as it is about mine.

Hi, I’m pansexual, pagan, and polyamorous.  Who are you?

Blogs I bookmark and you should too!

Snippets and Scribbles

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,061 other followers