New media brings new ways to come out…

Last year, Time ran an article in June, during Pride Month, about coming out on Facebook. (See the article here.) In brief, the article discusses how facebook and other social networks have placed the burden of discovery on our “friends” and “followers” easing the burden on the individual to go through the exhaustive process of coming out to friends and family again and again. While exploring possible topics for “Sexually Smarter” during Pride Month, a CFLE staffer proposed the idea of doing an interview on the CFLE facebook page with a relative who had come out via email/facebook note. Over the next few weeks she’ll conduct an interview, which will be posted as a FB discussion and also on the CFLE’s blog, “Sexually Smarter”. Below is a look at how this idea began from the perspective of her teenage relative…

It’s the summer before my senior year of high school. July 23, 2009, to be exact. It’s around 12:30 in the morning when one of those random inspirational feelings hits me from out of nowhere. You know, the kind that makes you feel ready to conquer all of your problems right then and there? The only problem was that the likelihood of me holding onto this surge of courage and confidence into the next day after a long, slovenly teenage slumber was extremely slim. What was I supposed to do? Wake up my mom and come at her with the biggest obstacle of my life without her morning coffee first? No way. Instead, I took to a new Word document and poured my heart out through my fingertips. Leaving no emotion unexplored, I finished a coming out letter to my mom and one for everyone else in my life.

Awesome, it was off my chest and on my computer screen, glowing before me in the dark. For the next hour or so I flopped from my computer chair to my bed, and back, lips pursed and heart pacing as I considered taking one step further and sending it to my mom. It was right about 2:00 when reality finally breached my slew of reasons for not coming out and I began to think, “Why not? You have to do this eventually.” I reinforced my bit of courage with the facts of my case: An unconditionally loving family, security, and the seething urge to stop hiding something I find to be such a frivolous matter in the grand scheme of life. The waters seemed perfect for taking the plunge, and it was about time I listened to my mom’s advice to step out of my comfort zone.

Deep breath. Copy, paste, and send. It was hard to believe that I had just crossed over the threshold of a new open life with a quick e-mail at 2:30 in the morning. Tapping into every last drop of my courage, I logged into Facebook and posted my general letter as a note for all to see. I crawled into my bed, headphones playing every corny inspiring song in my itunes library and slept as long as I could. Dramatic? Possibly, but it helped soothe my soul.

Thank you to Colleen and her relative for sharing how he took plunge and come out via a social network. In the coming weeks they will explore why social networks may be a preferable way to come out to friends and family, what he was expecting when he came out, what were the outcomes, and what resources there are for young adults going through a similar experience. We hope that you will share your questions and comments as we’d like to keep this experience social and interactive, we only ask of our followers and fans that you keep your comments and questions relevant and please respect the choices and opinions of others.

2 Responses to “New media brings new ways to come out…”

  1. Loretta

    I’m Colleen’s sister and the Mom of Joe the infamous facebook “comeoutter”. My take on his coming out-it was a non-event for me. I’ve had my suspicions since he’s about 10 years old. I felt his need to say something, but waited until he was ready. When I say non-event, by this I mean that it’s none of my friggin business who my sons loves. I just want him to be happy. I don’t understand why this whole thing is an issue. Excuse my language, but it pisses me off that it is an issue. My first reaction was to hug him and tell him I was proud of him and then I think I said “so you’re gay, whatever, now take out the garbage.

    Now that the reality of his being gay is setting in, I have a lot of anger. I have anger for the fact that my son is being discriminated against. I have anger that if it were politically correct, my son would have to sit at the back of the bus and drink from a different water fountain. I have anger that although most people don’t have a problem with the LGBT community, there is a small percentage of people who do have a problem and they have the power. I have anger that most people dig their heads in the sand about this issue because they’re heterosexual and feel it’s someone else problem-well, wait until their son or daughter comes out on facebook. Well, like me the reality of the struggles of the LGBT community will hit them and it will it them hard like it did to me.

    More heterosexuals need to get involved in this issue. Write a letter to your senator, make a donation to the LGBT community for their fight, tell someone who is speaking ill of the gays to shut the hell up! Don’t sit in silence. This could be your son or daughter or grandchild.

    I’m so proud of my son. I’m proud of my family for loving us so unconditionally. I’m truly blessed.

  2. Beth

    I agree with Loretta. It shouldn’t be a big deal either way. If people weren’t forced to feel like they were “different” they wouldn’t feel the need to come out like it’s a big deal. We should all just love and accept each other for who we/they are and not set such specific expectations as boys will like girls and girls will like boys. As a new mom I truly hope to make a difference by raising what could possibly be a generation to grow up with a new perspective. Good for you Joe, for being who you are and good for you Loretta, for being an awesome mom!