Happy Pride (My Coming Out Story)

Last night I heard someone say we’re now 880 days into the Pandemic. I don’t know what it was about this number, but after several weeks of feeling like I needed to continue to keep it “close to the vest” and change the way I approach life, I realized in that moment that it’s now more than ever we need human interaction, human connection. Maybe not in the physical sense of the word, but knowing that someone else out there, whether it’s next door, across town, or across the country, has been where we are.

So today, like each June first, I will share my coming out story. It, like most of my life, is complex and full of pain with the fleeting moments of sunshine. And until I sat down to write this, I always thought I’d change it; trade a few of the tears for a few more smiles.

But you grow through what you go through.

Yes, I always knew. I always liked girls more than you “should” but didn’t like girl things. I liked race cars, playing outside, frogs, jeans, and tee shirts. I looked at girls a little longer than was probably comfortable for them but never acted on anything. I was raised in a conservative, Christian house. Taught that God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, even if that was during the semiannual church attendance we made (you know the big 2: Easter and Christmas). So, I dated boys, loved girls quietly, and developed an unhealthy relationship with “love”.

Until I met Andrea. Ironically, only through my father.

Gary (my father) had strongly suggested I join a MLM underneath his lineage. We were at a meeting one night, one of the large ones designed to draw other suckers in, pump you up full of false promises of becoming a millionaire, when she walked in. Andrea, my A.

A distant relative, like 3rd cousin, had told me that she would be there. Andrea was her best friend and through social media she knew Gary and I were involved in this MLM deal. I had zero idea who she was or what she looked like. Never saw a photo, never met her. But when she walked in, I knew. My skin prickled, hair on my arms stood up, my heart raced. We sat together during the meeting and with each casual brush of our arms my heart skipped a beat.

And that was that. Closet Kim couldn’t exist anymore. I felt like I would die if I wasn’t with her. I was with someone else at the time in the middle of what was a complicated relationship/breakup. It quickly became no longer complicated.

Andrea and I spent every moment together from that day forward. She likes to joke that I didn’t just come out of the closet, I kicked the door down.

And then went back in.

Because after I came out, my parents called my “lesbian phase” a problem. They tried to use my own child as a pawn against me, keeping him from me. Told me he couldn’t be with me when I was with her. When A and I married, Gary wouldn’t even change my name on payroll (I worked for our family business at the time). He refused to speak to her, they made my life as stressful as humanely possible. When I told Gary he didn’t have to approve, but he was not only my boss, he was also my father and he did have an obligation to stop the bullying at the office, especially as I was a manager, he refused. I told him I was suicidal, he told me he didn’t know what I expected him to do about it.

Unsurprisingly, not long after our marriage my body shut down. I was driving to work on interstate 395N and I blacked out. I’d spend months in the ER, hospital, and labs to find out that I was suffering from fibromyalgia. While there is no known cause, some are of the opinion that trauma is one source.

It was all too much. I loved her more than anyone I’d ever known, which is why I had to leave. I couldn’t let them destroy her the way they’d destroyed me. And I couldn’t lose my son.

So, I told her I made a mistake, that I wasn’t queer. I broke her heart into a million little pieces and for the rest of my life it will be one half of my life’s biggest regrets. I moved out.

Gary asked if I needed help. Money, a truck. Apparently, now that I wasn’t sharing my bed with a woman, he could speak to me. I moved into a small, mold ridden apartment before ending up homeless for over 12 months.

My life is pretty beautiful today. I met a wonderful man, 1/3 of the best things to ever walk into my life. We share a wonderful home. Have 2 sweet kitties. Riley knows love is love and I teach him the things my parents never taught me.

But every June 1st, I think about my own journey. My coming out party, loud and proud. Then slinking away into the darkness again for years, afraid to be me because I would lose my job, child, place to live.

This is real. I’m an upper middle class white woman. If this happened to me, someone you know, imagine the stories we don’t hear from folks who don’t share my privilege?

Happy Pride, my loves. We’ll never go back. Enjoy the rainbows, the glitter, the Cher, the Elton. Don’t ever change, and don’t ever go back. For anyone.