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Celebrating Pride Month: Truth Takes Time

Abstract Pride Rainbow

As a child growing up in the 1980s, I didn’t know about queer people. I actually had a couple of cousins in the LGBTQ+ community, but because no one in my family ever talked about it or explained it to me, for an embarrassing number of years I thought they and their partners were siblings (it was a big family – what was a couple of extra siblings?!).  So, imagine my surprise, when – all these years later – it turned out I was queer too.

 

The queer community is a huge, multi-colored rainbow of beautiful difference and belonging for those who may not always have felt they belonged. And there is much to be said about the resilience and courage, the creativity and abundance, the compassion and openness of this community. But there is one hue of that LGBTQ+ rainbow that doesn’t get talked about much, and we have our own stories and our own baggage. So today, I am talking about us – folks who came out later in life, not because we were in the closet desperately hiding our truths from the world, but because we legitimately Did. Not. Know.

 

I have been a psychologist for almost a decade and a half, and some of my favorite clients to work with have always been LGBTQ+ identified folks. But it was only in the last 7 or 8 years that it occurred to me that there was a reason I was drawn to this community – I was, in fact, one of them.

 

But as a cisgender woman who has been in a heteronormative relationship with a cisgender man for over 20 years, I wondered: did it really matter that I was queer? After all, coming out was not going to change anything about my relationship, my family, or how I appeared from the outside. I never had the excruciating experiences of so many queer folks growing up in the ‘80s. I was never bullied at school, rejected at home, or ridiculed in the media and the common vernacular (‘that’s so GAY!’). I was not socialized in queer spaces in my formative years. I don’t share many of the experiences of my LGBTQ+ clients who found their truth earlier in life. It felt like maybe, even in this most inclusive of communities, I might not belong – like it was somehow performative to come out. Like maybe my lifetime of straight privilege meant I didn’t deserve it.

 

So, I hemmed and hawed and wrestled with my queer imposter syndrome for a little (okay, a long) while. But when it came down to it, the better I came to understand myself, the more I felt inauthentic pretending to be straight. Integrity matters to me – it’s probably one of my most important values – and keeping my truth hidden felt contrary to that value. Especially doing the work that I do. Even though I wasn’t like many of my clients in some important ways. Even though I didn’t have the hardships and the traumas that so many do. So, a couple of years ago, I started coming out. And I continue to come out again and again (and again, and again, and ...). And even when it feels difficult or awkward, overall, I am glad I did. Because now I get to be all of me, and that is so precious.

 

And you know what? When I came out to my friends in the LGBTQ+ community, they welcomed me with open hearts and huge smiles. The chatter, the self-doubt, the put downs – those were all inside of me. Outside, in the glow of the rainbow, there was just warmth and love and acceptance.

 

So, as this Pride month comes to an end, here is a shout-out to all the folks who, like me, took longer to figure things out. You belong here. Your truth matters. You matter.


Illustration of various shaped pride flags

Happy Pride!


 

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