Monday, 12 April 2010

Resisting the coming-out urge

   Back in February my wife and I decided that to lessen the stress of having a Big Secret I'd slowly come out to my friends. Over a month later and the ranks of People Who Know have slowly swelled until now I'd have to throw a larger-than-average dinner party (for which of course I'd need a larger-than-average dress!) to accommodate them. I have friends in the group both male and female from several different circles, I've even come out to a family member and my mother-in-law knows through my wife.
    It has been a rewarding process. OK, I've selected them carefully, but nobody has reacted in anything but a positive way. I can now talk freely about all this in front of people I've known for years and trust and respect, and this has been very liberating. It's changed my relationship with them forever, and for the better. None of them have yet encountered me en femme, but when that day comes it will be something to enjoy not dread.
    My concern is that the process of coming out, through being such a relief, is becoming irresistible. More than once recently I've been insanely tempted to just get it over with and tell someone, and resisting the urge has in itself become a slight source of stress. I've been lucky in that it hasn't gone wrong yet and that is in no small part down to careful preparation. Skipping that preparation can only lead to failure.
    In particular, I had the urge to come out to my mother yesterday at my parents place. She's the person I most fear talking to about all this because I'm pretty certain that she has more than slight suspicions about it - she's a retired teacher who raised a child with gender issues after all - and I'm equally certain she does not want to be confronted with it. She shows discomfort when faced with anything relating to me that differs from her notion of the gender norm, for example when Magnus sent me their ladies catalogue by mistake her reaction was one of horror in contrast to my amusement. I wish I could remove the resulting worry at her potential upset by just talking to her, but to do so would be to cause her a lot of grief and it is not necessary to do that. Probably I never will.
    I do not regret deciding to come out to my friends and I will continue the process. I must be careful though to do so at a measured pace and to respect any boundaries I have set.


  1. I know what you mean with the irresitable urge.

    Though I have also only had positive experiences, mine have been more through dumb luck than planning. I do know who not to tell, and who I *think* I can trust, but planning has not really been a part of it.

    Panic attacks and anxiety attacks have ben the influencing factor mainly...


  2. I understand the urge to come out that you are experiencing. I struggled with the urge to come out to my sister for months, before the right opportunity presented itself. She took it well, and it was such a load off my mind. I did via email and included pictures and a link to my blog, and told her she could share the news with my niece, who also was very supportive. So the two people I care the most about in my life know the truth about me. My mom has known about me since she discovered I was cross dressing as a teenager, but she has remained in denial about it, thinking it's something I have overcome. She has never seen the real me, but I sometimes feel like pulling my on-line pictures up, and showing them to her. Because I look so completely different in boy mode, I feel like she has never really known or understood the real me. She would be amazed at how much I look like my sister.

    Melissa XX

  3. The idea of irresistible being a way to describe feelings of coming out amazes me. I might have imagined the difficulty of knowing what order and who to tell first; once the dam opens it must be hard to hold back. 'If person A knows, then we really need to tell B,' etc.

    I don't know whether to thank you for a view of my future. Yes, thank you, I think.

  4. I'm glad I am not alone in this. It's such a load off your mind every time you have another person you don't have to hide from.

    Stace: you're ahead of me on this process. I think my life will get "interesting" when I come out at work.

    I think my mother has a lot in common with yours, Melissa. For now there's no special need for her to know but I so identify with wanting to be accepted as the real me. It's not a how I present thing, I'm quite happy if she never sees me in girl mode, it's a need to be understood.

    Halle, sorry if I've opened a yawning chasm in front of you. I've gone for the "Could you keep this to yourself" approach so far so other than one person's partner I've not had much of the "A knows so B has to as well". At some point I'll have the interesting experience of meeting with two or more of the People Who Know at once, then I'll have to decide whether now's the moment to leth them know they can talk about it. Tangled web, eh!

  5. This is fascinating - thank you so much for sharing it. I have a small circle of friends to whom I have 'come out', but most who know Angie didn't know Mike beforehand.

    I've been testing closer friends and family by not hiding my feminine side. I always wear my engagement ring and my fem watch, and always carry a modest-looking handbag. Also, my cardigans and coats all button up the 'wrong' way. So far there have been no remarks, though they must have noticed. Consequently I'm gradually getting the courage to go further.

    Once again, thanks Jenny.

    Angie xx

  6. Ditto Jenny.
    Coming out to people close to you is a daunting thing to do, but it does give you a feel of liberation once it is done.
    I completly relate to your feelings.
    Last night at my first night at University on my course I introduced myself as Lisa and explained to themabout me. There were 18 people there and they all called me Lisa and treated me as one of the girls.
    I cant tell you how great it felt.

  7. Hey Jenny.... yup, felt the same, though its morphing into a need to come out. I'm reaching the point where I just want it all out there, that I can do what I need to do without further stress or worry, and count down to RLE. I still need to follow my plan though, and ease into the process. But I did tell mom today....

  8. I seem to have struck a chord here.

    I'm doing it not from the necessity of full-time Jenny mode though. For us it's simply to remove the burden of the Big Secret, though no doubt along the way it'll afford me more Jenny time in the company of others. I don't know whether their not having to get used to me as girl immediately if ever will make it easier or harder for them to take it in.

  9. I have wondered for years whether to come out as lesbian to my mother. To cut a long story short, she has known some of it from when I was working through stuff in my teens, and reacted to it with shock and upset at the time, but I've since been married to a man (long story) and that might well have quieted any questions she might still have had.

    From another perspective, she and my father are from the generation where same-sex intimacy was very much beyond the pale. For that reason, although I can see the honesty in coming out, I'm not sure of the kindness in that honesty, for them or for me. I ask myself, what would truly be served in their knowing? What would be served in their not-knowing? My current feeling is that a decision to come out is one that is considered with as much wisdom and compassion as possible, and not necessarily to say never, because it still might arise. But I'm not anticipating doing it any time soon. However, over the years, it's also shifted from being a Big Secret into something more neutral, so that I no longer have the feeling of hiding something really big. It also feels like several close friends are my extended family, and I know I'm not alone in that understanding.

  10. The funny thing is, my mother probably wouldn't be so shocked if I was gay. She might be disappointed but she's used to gay men, after all she had Quentin Crisp as a life model when she was an art student. (Now that shocked me when she saw him on telly and said "Oh, Quentin! I used to draw him!". I had no idea my mother had such a colourful past.)

    I'm with you on the lack of kindness in honesty. The purpose in telling them would only be to benefit me in having it in the open, no benefit to them. I'll do it if I have to but for now it's better that they don't know.

  11. Damn, now I'm eleven behind! I'll never catch up if everyone keeps writing...

    Great piece, Jenny. This is something I fight all the time. For decades, I wanted to keep all feminine things tightly inside me. Now, I want to just matter-of-factly tell anyone when the spirit moves me. I have successfully bitten my tongue thus far, but I am certain I will slip up one day.

  12. That's OK, they'll still be there when you pop in. You can do a Calie and shower comments quick-fire!