Earlier this morning, I realized that it was April 1. I then realized that it was April 1, 2006. That’s exactly ten years after April 1, 1996. For those who might not be aware of it, April 1, 1996 was the day that I quit trying to “fix” my sexuality, and came out to both myself and my friend Merion. That means that as of about 8pm this evening, I have been “out” for ten years. So happy anniversary to me!
I’m not big on commemorating “life changing moments” every year. But for some reason, remembering my tenth coming out anniversary struck me as important today, so I thought I’d say a few things about it.
First of all, let me just reiterate that if you’re about to come out to your best friend and you find yourself prefacing your announcement with the phrase, “Please bear in mind this isn’t an April Fool’s joke,” you’ve probably chosen a bad day to come out. It’s something that Merion and I have joked about every so often for the past ten years.
I remember that night with some amazing details. I remember meeting Merion in the small alcove where our Small Group Bible Study (the one I was helping to lead and that Merion used to attend) met on Wednesday night. My stomach was all in knots and I think I was visibly shaking. It took me several long moments of hesitation to get the words out. I had a certain feeling like this was it. Once I took this step, there was no going back. And it’s hard to jump off the proverbial cliff like that. Ultimately, I’m glad I did and I’ve hardly looked back since, but my perspective was quite different back then.
Merion was momentarily stunned. I’m not sure whether she wasn’t expecting it (if so, she may well be the only person who hadn’t at least suspected something was up by then) or if she was just so surprised that I decided to tell her. She did tell me she was honored that I told her, which I sort of understand all of these years later. To me, it only made sense at the time. After all, she had come out to me the previous year.
I think that part of the reason thinking back to this event ten years ago is that it was my first “big change.” Considering the number of changes I’ve been through in the last ten years — including several changes in the past year — thinking back to the event that “got the ball rolling,” seems appropriate. I mean, on March 31, 1996, I was a “straight” (okay, that’s not entirely true, but that’s another complicated topic) evangelical Christian with highly conservative political leanings. The next day, I officially took the first step towards becoming the person I am today, a gay witch with a mostly left-leaning political outlook. Had you asked me back then if I ever thought I’d be where I am today, I think I would’ve laughed. Maybe even offended.
Isn’t life strange?