Coming Out to Yourself; Permission to Be

Introduction:

How do I even begin to approach this topic?

There’s always been so much shame surrounding the fact that along with my attraction to men is my attraction to women. Growing up in a deeply religious environment, I learned that being a lesbian, that being gay, (along with any and all variations or offshoots) was completely unnatural, an illness, an abomination against God, a sin.

I knew not a single gay person. They simply didn’t exist in my community. Weren’t accepted, loved, cherished, or spoken about. They were the broken ‘others’, stigmatized and shunned for the way they were born. Outcasts overtaken by lustful spirits, living out sinful desires and fantasies, spiting God and spitting in His face because they were too weak to rise above their “challenge” and seek help in overcoming “tendencies” in order to integrate into the normal pure and holy heterosexual God-fearing us; the sanctified community of God’s beloved children. Those ‘others’ were to be pitied and stayed very far away from.

 

It makes me sad to think that so many people in this world choose to stay in this very separated and superior way of being and thinking.

With that kind of background and upbringing, it’s no wonder suppression and denial played a dominant role in the sexual exploration and evolution of my adolescent years.

 

What this blog post will focus on:

This subject brings up so many different topics for me. I could write numerous blog posts on the matter, and I think I just might with time.

There are the questions of what actually shapes our sexuality, what shapes how we view our own sexual identities. I could speak out on the kind of thinking written above, the straight purist ideals and mentality, where and when it dates back to and comes from. The lack of education, understanding, and tolerance. Why certain religious communities may hang onto these mentalities and what they fear. And about overcoming religious sexual shame.

There’s Western abstinence-based sexual education, the concept of “purity”, the notion that sexual urges are immoral and that we’re better people when we choose to live above them. So many ideas and ideals that have left people feeling confused about themselves and like they need to reject even normal healthy sexual urges.

And then there’s the injustice and persecution of the LGBTQ+ community, the history, the makeup… endless topics and discussions to choose from.

Every issue has its own conversation to dissect, the where, what, when, why, and how.

What I want to explore here is how to begin moving forward and find resolution and peace with this issue in our own personal lives.

 

Homophobia:

Homophobia does need to get addressed at this point of the blog post.

We all exist on a spectrum. Which means that all of us will have some sort of blend to our sexual preferences, however extreme or otherwise balanced. I believe that homophobia comes about when there’s repression and lack of integration of those homosexual feelings, for that part of their spectrum blend, in a person. A denial and/or fear of those parts of themselves.

This isn’t to say that everyone’s gay. Merely that everyone has a variance of feelings going either way and that they’re all very natural, normal, and okay.

For visual aid, here’s a graphical representation of the orientation spectrum:

Orientation Chart.jpg

This article it was taken from does an excellent job of explaining how it works.

The incorrect assumption (and resulting fear) that accepting homosexual feelings results in an outcome of sexually acting out on those feelings isn’t necessarily true. There’s a myriad of outcomes and ways to accept those parts of self into your life without any of them being remotely sexual. Unless of course you’d like them to be.

 

Beginning with self; making changes in your own life:

Take a look inside. Is this something you’ve been struggling with, consciously or maybe under the radar in your subconscious world?

 

1. Coming out to yourself first:

Before judging your family, friends, and community as unaccepting, hateful or non-tolerant, make sure it isn’t you who’s judging yourself first.

Be honest. Be authentic. Do you really want to live a life in chains because of some fears, because of the unknown, because of other people? Choose to free yourself.

Stay compassionate. Begin to understand all the pieces of what makes you YOU. Allow room for all those different pieces to have space, to have a voice, to have a part in your life. Get educated. Allow for exploration and discovery. Regardless of your current stage in life.

Give yourself permission to feel, to be, to care, to think, love, desire, need and want.

I suggest writing a letter or permission slip to yourself and/or allowing expression through an art piece you would never have allowed to come through otherwise. Something to give yourself a voice and see your inner feelings admitted into existence. It’s much easier to face what is when it’s staring you in the face.

 

2. Finding support:

Speak with others that have gone through what you’re going through. You’re never the only one. Talk to a therapist, mentor, or a friend that feels safe.

Adapting from steps 4 & 5 of the Twelve Steps, after making a fearless inner inventory and admitting your own truth to yourself,  the next move is to admit the same to God and  to another human being. I’m telling you- it’s positively therapeutic and liberating.

 

Resources for online support:

TheTrevorProject.org

Support.TherapyTribe.com

7cups.com

The guide below walks you through all the stages you might go through with coming out to others:

Coming Out- What to Expect Guide

 

3. Finding ways to integrate and find balance:

I heard the saying somewhere that “Shame cannot exist in the light”.

Which I take to say that negative outcomes from going through these steps cannot exist, cannot come to fruition, if you intend to live your life in truth. Only good can come from stepping into the light and exposing what is as it is. Your shame will melt as you own who you really are with pride and courage.

A word of caution:

Not everyone has the luxury of feeling safe in coming out. of having a loving and accepting environment and support system. In having emotional, familial, or physical safety to take this step.

If this is your situation and you don’t have the freedom or safety to come out to others, coming out to yourself is still incredibly valuable, self-affirming, and strengthening. It’s a step toward loving and trusting yourSELF and as this is YOUR life you’re living, that’s a worthwhile relationship to invest in building.

The relief of authenticity and truth, the inner empowerment that can be gained through it, and the alignment with self has tremendous value in helping you begin taking steps toward your own freedom in life.

That said, I’d caution anyone in a sensitive environment or situation to always have care when determining the safety factors of coming out to another. Your safety is of utmost and critical importance here and although you may feel better inside while sharing your truth with the world, make sure that outside you’ll be doing alright as well. Take care. The world can sometimes be a very cruel place.

 

Integration:

// If you don’t have a partner, maybe this is your chance to change that.

// If you do have a partner, speak with them about what you’re dealing with. He/she might surprise you. Be honest. With yourself, with your partner, with what’s going on, and explore your needs, desires and options together. Honesty will get you everywhere. And if it doesn’t, you can at least clearly see who it is you’re with and make a decision about if this is still a good fit for you.

// Like I mentioned above, if your fear has always been that acceptance of your feelings would lead to sexually acting on them, know that this isn’t necessarily where it will lead you. You get to decide what integration looks like, and whether or not you’d like that to be a part of it.

For you it may be as simple as letting go of same-sex relationship fears and allowing deeper intimacy in your friendships, allowing you to get closer and become more authentic with your friends, family, and already-existing relationships in your life.

Or it may just allow you to gain deeper understanding and tolerance of those around you. Whatever it is, you’re the boss and you get to decide how you’d like your feelings to manifest.

 

How can we be the change we want to see in the world?

By being intentional. By being authentic. By being honest. In changing our own lives we effectually change the lives of all those around us.

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