Are You #ComingOut Late?
The very idea of coming out can seem unthinkable (or at least unmentionable) for people who aren’t teenagers anymore—people who don’t feel confident enough or ready to reach out. People who can’t hide behind the “it’s just a phase” mythology. Fear, guilt, confusion or “taboo” aspects of thought take center stage. Hesitancy to address queer or questioning thoughts seems to creep in around folks in their mid to late twenties, depending on their circumstances at the time.
Folks begin to establish a career, to take a serious look at their goals and relationships, or to set the idea in place that “people know them one way,” and that’s the way things will be or have to be. Add spiritual and community-related concerns in to the mix, and here you have another layer. Too, there could be an inability to articulate or figure out questions around gender. Soon enough, habits of avoidance and denial solidify.
When you do feel they desire more information to make changes, sometimes the older you are, the harder it gets to make those changes..
Resources do indeed abound. While we are including resources and spaces for support below, don’t “study the process” so much that you isolate yourself.
Coming Out Resources for Late Bloomers
The Human Rights Commission is in the business of making information easy to find for those who are queer and questioning, for those who need allies or want to mentor others, or for those who have needs or concerns in relation to gender identity. Leverage their years of research, experience and funding, why don’t ya? You can take advantage of their solid support and availability by asking them questions and browsing their archives online.
The Bisexual Index: http://www.bisexualindex.org.uk/index.php/Bisexuality
Bisexuality is not a mythical unicorn of a concept, and being bi doesn’t mean you’re fluctuating from one reality to the next. The Bisexual Index’s Frequently Asked Questions pages are extremely helpful in tackling other such myths and explaining the facts.
Gender & Identity
From the ISNA:
“What’s the difference between being transgender or transsexual and having an intersex condition?” http://www.isna.org/faq/transgender
FTMTransition.com (FTM, Female to Male) FAQ: http://www.ftmtransition.com/transition/faq/faqtranst.html
A helpful primer website for trans* guys and others who have questions about what life is like for trans* men as well as family, friends and allies. FTM means “female to male.”
MTF (Male to Female) Transition – Calpernia Addams and Andrea James: http://www.andreajames.com/calpernia-addams.html
As trans* activists, advocates, speakers and coaches for women who seek to make their transition, Calpernia and Andrea have also co-created many multimedia projects—fiction and non-fiction films, books and more—to both educate and entertain folks about trans* culture from a woman’s perspective.
Coming Out Stories & Support
Empty Closets: EmptyClosets.com
Coming out resources and a safe place to chat.
I Am Coming Out of the Closet – The Experience Project: http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Am-Coming-Out-Of-The-Closet/108866
Read and/or share your comments and ideas in terms of coming out.
Much Love For Seniors
Over 50 years of age? We can’t ignore the fact that queer culture can be, unfortunately, terribly ageist. AARP (yes, the AARP.) and many other organizations are all too familiar with ageism and proactively fight for all-inclusive human rights. We encourage you to reach out to them. Here are some helpful points of light and points of entry for you.
Old Lesbians Organizing for Change: http://www.oloc.org
OLOC is a national network of “Old Lesbians” over age 60 working to make life better through support networks and by confronting ageism in our communities and our country using education and public discourse as primary tools. They hold events and gatherings regularly.
AARP Pride deals with, in their words, “The Biggest Issues Facing Older LGBT Americans.”This organization is already quite understanding and helpful in advocating for seniors. They work hard to strengthen their AARP Pride-specific presence and programs each year as well.
Sage stands for services and advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender elders.
FORGE’s T.A.N.: http://forge-forward.org/aging/
TAN/The Trans Aging Network exists to improve the lives of current and future trans/SOFFA (significant others, friends, family and allies).
The Original Coming Out Stories: Expanded Edition. Julia Penelope and Susan J. Wolfe, Eds., Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.
The Gay and Lesbian Self-Esteem Book: A Guide to Loving Ourselves. Kimeron N. Hardin, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
A Family and Friend’s Guide to Sexual Orientation. Bob Powers & Ala Ellis, New York: Routledge.
Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out. Loraine Hutchins & Lani Kaahimanu, Eds., Boston: Alyson Publications.
This Is An All Ages Club
It might feel like it makes more sense to say you are an ally, rather than declaring anything else at this point. That’s normal.
As you’ll discover along the way, one resource will inevitably lead you to another, and another and another.
Because we can “Google” just about everything, coming out tends to be more self-directed and self-paced for adults, which can be a mixed blessing. Coming out is a process of “beginning again,” and so you will indeed encounter resources that are just for kids, teens and younger people during your travels. Try not to internalize it or become so sensitive to it that it discourages you from searching for more answers.
Don’t let it irk you so much that you resent your age and/or your process: just keep moving forward.
Use “youth” as a metaphor. You’ll find you’ll feel like a kid again during the process, but you’ll have the advantage of experience to add to the pot.
You’re The “I” At The Center of All Storms
Stories especially can provide so much loving, compassion-centered inspiration in the beginning stages of your process. They can also, however, facilitate a form of stalling or keeping your questions and concerns to yourself.
Too, LGBTQ culture intersects with political ideologies, many of which are extremely heated, for various reasons. Please try not to let landmines of debates deter you from your own personal search for true meaning and identity.
Allow yourself the space to create your life the way you want to, and seek to find your peace of mind above all else. That will always be your North Star: returning time and time again to your own center. To your own peace of mind.