When we say the phrase “coming out” we think of the emotional one: the one where we sit down parents, the one where we leave a church, or the one with tears of solidarity or disappointment. 

That’s not the one I’m talking about. I’m talking about all the other smaller, more nuanced ones. 

I was in therapy after coming out to my family, and I remember my therapist saying that things will get easier. She was right, but she failed to mention that those “things” will keep coming. I’ll never stop coming out. I’ll have to do it all the time, whether I have the emotional bandwidth or not. 

Anytime my wife and I hold hands in public it is a premeditated choice, not instinct. We don’t have the luxury to reach for each other whenever we wish. I am always looking around, sizing up those around us thinking, are we okay here? Holding hands on a busy street, for us, is coming out. 

When we visited a pair of friends in a Texas small town, we had made the choice to hold hands as we walked into an antique store. I noticed a woman looking at us for a moment too long and I turned to my friend Mandi and whispered, “Are we safe here?”

Mandi said, “Oh you’re fine now. Maybe not so much at night.”

New towns can be tricky, especially when we’re used to being in a big city like Austin. 

New towns are like new workplaces. Imagine going to a happy hour with work people you’ve known for 2 weeks and someone says, “So what does your husband do?”

Here I am, grateful to have red wine nearby, coming out to people I don’t know very well. The benefit of coming out at work though is people talk. I’d bet you’d only have to do it once before the whole company knows. 

It’s especially frustrating when you have to come out to the same person multiple times because they keep forgetting. That was my gynecologist in North Carolina. Every year, she asked how I was preventing pregnancy and every year I said I was married to a woman. After the third time, I asked, “Will you include that in my file please, so you won’t forget?” 

I shouldn’t have had to ask. I shouldn’t have had to feel different, but it happens all the time. 

Are LGBTQ+ not talking about this because we’ve all gone numb to it? Have we accepted that it’s par for the course? Is heteronormativity so ingrained in us, that we don’t even stop to see what we’re doing over and over again? 

Imagine a world where: 

Love transcends gender.  Love is not assumed to be straight. Love, in all its ways, is celebrated.  

It makes me happy, too.  

Now, how are you going to build it?

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