Years ago a close friend asked me what it was like for me to come out of the closet. Not one of our more typical topics of conversation for breakfast, but I figured, “What the heck? I’m game.” Actually, I was quite honored that he trusted and valued our friendship enough to even ask me; until then, no one had even attempted to broach the subject.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remembered talking about the fact that it certainly had nothing to do with any closets for me. To me closets have always been a source of comfort – kind of a safety zone. I remember during the Bay Area’s 1989 earthquake, I actually went to my closet a number of times during the numerous aftershocks that took place – thought my behavior was a little stranger than normal – until my therapist assured me that a lot of people were exhibiting a lot of different behaviors during this disaster.
Boy was I relieved! I was already wrestling with the vague awareness that I was different. I certainly didn’t want to be certifiable nuts on top of that.
No siree, Bob! We had enough wackos in the family.
My closet had always been a safe zone from the craziness of my childhood, so my therapist felt my sitting in it after the quake was totally appropriate. And I was paying her the bucks to validate my saneness, so I figured she had to be right.
Coming out for me, however, felt anything but safe. I felt alone and afraid; like I was driving down a long black tunnel with no lights and I didn’t see any “light at the end of the tunnel”; until more and more celebrities started their coming out process and I saw that I wasn’t alone in this tunnel of uncertainty – there were other “blind drivers” with me – and they were important people.
My initial disclosures that I made to family and close friends were mostly smooth sailing. The first friend I told actually laughed and was relieved that I wasn’t just diagnosed with some terminal illness. I was so nervous coming out to her during breakfast, that I choked on my tea a number of times and had a hard time swallowing my blue germ pancakes. When I finally did confide in her, I coughed out my blueberries and tea onto my plate and quickly uttered, “I’m gay, alright? I’m gay! I don’t know why the hell I’m gay, but I am!”
And then in case she felt I was hitting on her while I was spitting out my blueberries and tea, I quickly blurted out, “And no, you’re not my type, so don’t worry.”
For the first few seconds, I wasn’t sure she totally got what I said because she just quietly stared at me with what appeared to be a look of confusion, and then suddenly she howled with laughter and said, “For Pete’s sake, Lucie, you were so squirrely, I thought you were gonna tell me you had cancer or something! My boyfriend, Ralph, thought you were gay. Guess it was just me and you who didn’t know, eh?”
And then we both started laughing and I settled down and enjoyed what was left of my spit-out breakfast.
Coming out to Paula, at 35 years old, was a “piece of cake” compared to telling some of my other friends and family members. The fact is, there are still a number of family members that don’t really talk too much about it. They know the Princess is my special live-in friend, and most of the time, we leave it that way. I continue to correct them when they introduce us as “friends”, and they continue to do it. It’s one of those dances that will probably continue until they die, and it’s ok because it’s really not my problem; it’s theirs.
I realize that there are people that hate the Princess and me simply because we love each other. I also realize that many of these same people hate others because of their preconceived notion of what they think these people’s “differences” represent.
I get that.
We’re afraid of what we don’t understand.
As a young, innocent white woman from upstate New York, teaching a challenging group of predominately black kids in inner city Oakland years ago, I was afraid.
It was my kick-ass, Italian, New York attitude, that saved my butt many-a-time during those first few months teaching in Oakland. When I think back to those early morning walks with my kids through the drug-infested neighborhood of our school, I seriously believe I had an angelic guardian “Goombah” watching over me. To this day, I can’t explain it, but as soon as the gang-bangers saw my kid-lings and I headed toward them, all drug deals came to a screeching halt, and we were greeted with smiles and enthusiastic “Good mornings!” as we strolled by them, like nobody’s business.
Parading with my kids through the drug-infested streets of inner-city Oakland was much easier for me, than coming out to my family, friends and co-workers. Much easier. At least I knew who the bad guys were in Oakland. Coming out to my family members and friends was harder. Much harder.
Some days I felt like I was blindly driving down a tunnel, defiantly participating in a game of bumper cars with other reluctant drivers; until I was so banged up that I decided a “pit stop” was necessary and declared a moratorium on everything dealing with my sexuality because I was so emotionally beat-up that I couldn’t “drive” any more. It was brutally exhausting and it shouldn’t have been.
I never understood why my loving another woman was any big deal. I was still the same person. I was still a good teacher, a good friend, a good sister, a good Aunt, a good daughter……
Why did people care who I loved?
Because somehow their God cared and judged me?
My God doesn’t judge me. My God loves and accepts me. Why would he have made me the way he made me?
Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t choose this life-style.
I am an intelligent, kind, reasonably evolved woman.
I am not crazy.
(And, sorry, but I think you’d have to be a “little crazy” to choose this life-style.)
I think my Mom summed it up pretty well when I came out to her before dinner one night and I asked her, “So, what da ya think about having a gay kid, Ma?”
She looked at me like only she can when you’ve asked her a stupid question, and said, “Cazzo! You’re my daughter! You’ll always be my daughter. Now what do you want for dinner? Rigatoni’s or spaghetti’s?”
I think that’s as important an issue my sexuality should be for everyone.
As far as I’m concerned, we’re all pasta and I’m a noodle. And who cares?
Have a great day, People, and I’ll catch ya next time, looking at life from my shoes!