Coming Out was One of the Scariest Things I Have Ever Done
Despite growing up in a liberal household, I was raised in the bible belt at the height of the marriage debate. Everything I saw and heard taught me that my thoughts, feelings and emotions were wrong. The internal turmoil I faced was beyond measure. Every day, I thought about how I dressed, talked, and acted and scrutinized every behavior based on fear of bullying or unnecessary added attention.
Despite all of this, a part of me felt deep down that my parents would be supportive. After all, my mom's best friend in law school was a gay man, and my sisters all had best friends who were openly queer. Then, my older brother came out, and I witnessed firsthand the struggles my family had with coming to terms with it. Less then two years later, he committed suicide. His death was of course more complex and nuanced than just his sexuality, but as a closeted queer child, it pushed me back into the closet. I summated that if I came out, I would suffer the same outcome. I terrorized myself for years over this.
One day, I acted on my sexual desires in a way that put at risk everything I had created to mask my identity. I was threatened and would likely be exposed and outed. So, I came out. Looking back, it was not the way I would recommend anyone to come out, but I was determined to not let it be any other story but my own.
Each experience became easier, until eventually, I was out to everyone in my circle of family and friends. When I went to college, I began to introduce myself as the full Garrison, and coming out no longer became a step in the process of getting to know me - my queerness was just a part of me.
When I came out, I never though of the community that would be waiting for me. In fact, when I first came out, I was intimidated by the community. Overtime, I realized how much beauty and diversity the community embodies and represents, and I am so blessed to be able to experience this firsthand and be a part of it.
The LGBTQ+ community is incredible. The community is one of resilience and perseverance. But, the community also challenges the status quo and what it means to be different. The community celebrates and reminds us that our differences are a key part of our human experience and our beauty. The community champions diversity and reenforces the idea that our differences make us stronger, wiser and better off as a society.
Happy National Coming Out Day! The closet may be cold and dark, but the rest of the home is an open-concept, with natural light and walls full of color.
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