October 11, 2021
As an out and proud lesbian, I’ve probably told my coming out story a million times by now. Picture it: the early 2000s in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’m 13 or 14 years old, and I know that I’m in love with my female best friend. I was young but old enough to understand this part of my identity, and I felt ready to accept and embrace it.
Some of the pieces of this story have faded over time, like what day or even what month I worked up the courage to sit my mom down and tell her I’m gay. It didn’t happen on Coming Out Day – it happened when I felt ready. Her response was, “what makes you think you’re a lesbian?” Of all the possible responses I played out in my head leading up to this conversation, I wasn’t expecting that one.
The varied responses from family and friends created a mixed bag of emotions for me, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but my coming out experience was missing something vital – how I felt about myself.
Accepting Yourself Exactly as You Are This Coming Out Day
In the United States, we’ve been celebrating Coming Out Day on October 11th since 1988. It was created with the idea that the first step to LGBTQ liberation is to come out to the people in our lives. But while Coming Out Day was built on the message of self-empowerment and encouragement, it can represent something very different for LGBTQ people who have not come out yet for personal, professional, or other reasons.
Here in Orlando, we have our annual gay pride festivities during the week of Coming Out Day, and the pressure to feel celebratory and social can be intense. Feeling grateful for the inclusion and overwhelmed by the loud, intense energy of the events are things I’ve had to accept about myself while also remembering that it doesn’t make me any less LGBTQ if I’m only able to spend a few hours at the pride parade.
Similarly, wherever you are in your LGBTQ coming out journey, it doesn’t make you any less a part of our diverse community if you’re celebrating Coming Out Day from the sidelines or just in your head this year. Accepting yourself exactly as you are and where you are in your life is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, and adapting a daily mindfulness practice is what I needed to give that gift to myself.
Mindfulness Practices to Remember
Whatever Coming Out Day means to you right now, there are multiple mindfulness practices that can help you meet yourself where you are:
- Awareness of breathing. Using your breath as an anchor and bringing gentle curiosity to your thoughts and feelings.
- Acceptance/Compassion. Where you think you “should” be and where you actually are in your coming out journey may be two different things, but learning to accept yourself exactly as you are with kindness and compassion is an important tool.
- Loving Kindness. Cultivating an attitude of friendliness not only toward others but also yourself
Wherever this Coming Out Day finds us emotionally and mentally, may we all honor what we need and celebrate exactly who we are in this present moment.
Written by Becky Greiner