Monday, November 22, 2010

I wasn't the only one with a "Coming Out" story in my family

In May of this year, I removed any pretenses of my own making, which served to deflect the attentions of anyone, including my family, to who I truly am.

The reactions were mixed as expected. Six months later I can see perspectives held by friends and family members for what they are, their own opinions of who I am and what they believe to be truth in the World. I can allow them to live in their beliefs with the comfort that many only want happiness and eternal life for me, as they understand it.

In this process I have received numerous words of comfort from friends and old acquaintances. Many professing offers of support whenever they may be needed by me. This outpouring is even from friends of friends or barely known coworkers at previous jobs. Yet the greatest support I have received to date is with someone else sharing their own Coming Out process.

After a half of a year into this, I was left comforted by the reactions of my immediate family, whether it was positive or negative. For the positive was unexpected, and the negative less than feared. However, the conversation I had with my father last Monday, was to set me free.

We, at some point in our discussion, entered upon the topic of how my "process" was going, how my level of acceptance from others was impacting me. Fairly enlightened subject from a man I feared my entire life. I proceeded to explain that ultimately, the level of comfort was of my determination, and that it was my acceptance of others that would see me through. What followed surprised me.

My father is Head of the Parish Council at the local Catholic Church. He chooses to attend daily services. He has a political viewpoint which runs to the Conservative side of the spectrum. He has told off colored jokes in the past. But this night, we strolled in the realm of spirituality and I was enlighten.

Our discussion from six months back had my father relating my parents thoughts at that time, that I might be gay, but that when I started dating, they felt I was just going through a phase(referencing my crossdressing behavior as a preteen). That, presently, it would be easier for him to understand me if I was before him explaining that in fact I was gay. For he had a context, an understanding of what homosexuality is. Yet, transgender was more difficult. He also shared that,he would need to understand transgenderism better and the only context he had was a mutual friend of his skiing buddy from our very same hometown who transitioned 20+ years ago. So in seeking truth, he asked me how my process was going. As I explained the details I could see a different reaction on my fathers face, for I was speaking not technically, but from my heart. I spoke in terms of spirituality and not of physicality. He then offered me this. " I can only relate to you from my own Coming Out process, and have grown to understand the word Empathy.

My parents were Carter Democrats, blue collar Baltimorians at heart. Raised Roman Catholic, they had a profound spiritual conversion in the late 70's. They became born-again Christians. My father was to relate to me his experience in coming out for Christ in a world which looked askance upon such beliefs. I too, as their child displayed my disapproval at their following. My father named his newly formed company Christian Real Estate. Lost friends and business associates all because he was being true to himself. His process, as he relates today has given him empathy. He can seek to understand what the Christian Scientist believes or of what the mindset of Socialist political opinions may hold. That true Christianity offered us humility through our differences and tolerance for our shortcomings.

I hear, read and see much in the way of attacks upon others, simply because we do not like their view or our perceived lifestyles. And these from the community of diversity towards those without such open mindedness. I, as a professed child of God, am ill equipped for such thoughts. For that, I am grateful.

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