Coming Out Day: When in doubt, validate…?

Hey everyone,

Yes, it is coming out day here in the land of the free, home of the brave. If anyone reading this decides to tell someone today, know that your lesbian sisters are here for you. If the fear and reasons not to tell someone feel too great, we are also here for you. NO JUDGEMENT. This stuff is not for sissies and you are loved either way.

I liked Anu’s concept of “assuming the best” as a powerful context from which to react. But what does it take I wonder to mentally make that leap and assume that someone will be a supportive parent, sibling, friend…? (To do “the right thing”)  If they are not supportive, how will you respond to them in a powerful way that protects yourself, yet doesn’t make them wrong?

Sometimes making someone else wrong and being angry may feel like the most powerful stance at the time. (We’ve all felt how good self-righteous anger can feel.) Go there in the moment if you must — sometimes it’s all we can do. But remember the high road, which is the knowledge that we have all had time to adjust to our new identity. Shouldn’t we offer someone else the same courtesy? This doesn’t mean we lose our center of power. In fact, when genuinely embodied there is no more powerful place from which to speak.

What has worked for me in tough situations like this is validation.  You can validate the person without agreeing with them, “Yes, I know how hard it can be to see someone you love in a new light. You may feel as if you don’t know me. I struggled with this myself in the beginning, but I assure you I’m the same person. This is just one aspect of me and it feels good and right… and I want you to know that I’m happy.” (Or something along those lines…)

Of course if they could be happy for you, that would just be the icing on the cake, but give them some space and time.  If there’s a religious reason you might say that you had to do a lot of soul searching yourself, but you realized (for example) Jesus actually never spoke out against homosexuals… (but I digress!)  I have found that engaging in a debate (religious or otherwise) with the person at this time will not be productive in any way.  Simply tell them that they are entitled to their beliefs as you are to yours, and that you will pray for them. (Sorry I couldn’t resist that last prayer bit, say what feels authentic to you!)  The most important thing is to stay within your power center which comes from a place of unconditional love, not a place of shame or blame.

Rainbow hugs,
Jan

“Gender preference does not define you. Your spirit defines you!”

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Should We Assume the Best? A Coming Out Strategy

Coming out is a process. We may find it’s easy with some and harder with others. This is Anu’s new strategy to assist her state of mind when coming out…

“I, for one, can get caught up in the whirlwind of fears and assumptions when I think about coming out. It’s easy to do. And time-consuming. And not all that productive. So then I got to thinking…

We are conditioned to assume the worst of people. When we assume the worst of others, we are stopped in our tracks by fear. And it’s this fear that keeps us from embracing our most authentic selves. So what would happen, I thought, if instead we assumed the best?

I pondered whether making a good assumption about someone is the same as having expectations. We know how dangerous expectations can be, right? As a general rule, expectations lead to disappointment. And disappointment is hard to bounce back from. So couldn’t making a good assumption about a family member’s response to your sexual identity also lead to disappointment? Indeed. Except for one very important power shift.

When we assume the best of someone, and they prove us wrong, we are no longer the victim of that disappointment. Now we are the person who knows they could have done better, and we are disappointed with them, not by them.”

~ Anu Day

Thanks for the guest post Anu!

Hey everyone, do you think that assuming the best response from someone when you tell them you are gay might put you in the “drivers seat” or help the outcome? (If you are in a dependent situation you might want to find an ally before you try this.) Please respond in the comments below.

~ Jan

Can we really rank our sexuality?

I was talking with some colleagues about the difference between the Kinsey test and the Klein grid this week, and looked online to research it a bit further. There are many tests we can take to help determine our sexuality and for people just coming out it may help remove some of the confusion. But I often find these tests even more confounding, because let’s face it, sexual orientation is just not as cut and dried as we want it to be. We are fluid beings, and perhaps that’s a beautiful thing. So even though I identify as a lesbian, I am not 100% off the chart as a lesbian. I have known some women who are, but I fall somewhere close to the coveted gold star but slightly tarnished. LOL.

I mentioned to some of the women in my coming out group this week that I thought pan-sexuality seemed like the most evolved choice that anyone could make. I worried later that saying this would confuse them, but they seemed undaunted. Getting philosophical here, this was just a half-formed opinion of mine, based on the idea that loving a human being for who they are at the level of personality and perhaps the soul seems to be more in line with our higher self. While I can hold pan-sexuality as an ideal, my reality is much different. Lust I realize is not based on ideals, but on raw human sexual energy.

While most people can recognize that bodies of all genders can all be attractive, it is our energies (butch/femme, top/bottom, lead/follow, giver/taker, sweet/salty, and on and on) that have so much to do with attraction. Energy can be both ephemeral and hard to define. It is that spark we feel, that electric heat that shoots down our body. So let’s face it, how we react to these energies just isn’t something we can control. For me, I find the energy of a man to be too in polarity with mine and I enjoy the subtle energy play between two females better. I have no better way to describe this as the reason why I am gay. (Not that I need to give a reason any more than a heterosexual does, damnit.)

So is our sexuality really a choice? I don’t have a clear answer to that, nor do scientists though they have tried to prove there is a gay gene. The only thing I know for sure is that we are at the mercy of energies that play upon us and lure us into our sweet attraction.

What are the various energies in which you show up in your life? We may be “butch on the streets, but femme in the sheets” as the saying goes. Comment below about what you have noticed about your own energy and others.

10 Reasons to love Coming Out Support Groups

If you live in a large city that offers coming out support groups, I recommend taking advantage of them.  If you don’t have an in-person support group, the next best thing is a telephone support group (see resources.)  There are things a support group can offer you that a one-on-one session with a therapist cannot, though I recommend doing both if possible.

Peer support groups can be extremely powerful in the following ways:

  1. It’s important to know you’re not alone on your journey.
  2. There is enormous acknowledging and validating going on —  you’re all in the same boat with similar goals and you each have very similar struggles.  When you’re sharing your story, your other peer members are usually nodding their heads saying “That totally makes sense, that happens to me too!”  They may even chime in with “This is what worked for me when I was in that situation…”
  3. The facilitator or peer coach can help show you the “path beyond” when you are stuck.  It helps to have someone there that has been through it all before because they know there is an opening on the other side.  There is no way out, but through–and they will be the fearless leader walking by your side as you make your journey.
  4. There is great “peer wisdom” to be shared. Even in the midst of a struggle or emergence, there is a great wisdom that is generated within the group. Often the group will run itself without the need for the facilitator to interject.
  5. The peer group holds each other accountable to their greatness.  They call each other on “playing small” and encourage each other to create a life that will bring them joy.
  6. Your peers get to know you in many ways your family and friends may not because you’re talking in-depth about a subject that you typically aren’t sharing with many other people.  There is a bond or closeness that is created that can be like no other, particularly when in person, but phone is really good too.
  7. You laugh and you cry in group. It is a great release of all the pent up emotions you have been feeling.
  8. You can set goals if you want in group, but you will come out (or not) at your own pace with gentle encouragement.
  9. Homophobia tends to get nipped in the bud when the bond between you and your peers starts to form.  You respect and care so much for the other people in the group (who are also coming out) so how can you look down on gay people?  Some of the homophobia may have been engrained since childhood, so we work on that over time.  But a large part of the self loathing involved in coming out tends to melt away amidst the love of your peers.
  10. You may make friends for life.  Even if they turn out to be shorter term relationships, you are in the process of building a very important support network.

In our support groups we laugh and we cry.  But above all we are there for each other week after week, and we accept each other no matter the decision.