Words On Coming Out: Empowerment Through Writing

By: Lourdes Gil

A few months ago I started blogging with this friend of mine, you know; he has a website/blog thing and writes about everything gay (especially on issues related to México). One day he realized he needed a new voice, a different one – a lesbian one, basically –, and he thought of me. So I went ahead and penned a few pieces, some of them were about our local Mexican lesbians, some were about what TV shows I used to watch growing up, as a reference of what gay “role models” I had access to back in the day… and there were a few more. One day, I left the country and was forced to stop posting on the site, not that anyone actually noticed.

Either way, I knew some people were reading and my friend (the site’s owner and creator) was making sure that at least everyone on our social network knew about such posts. Some people started reading them, I got a few comments and was quite happy about it. Now, at the time I was writing at this particular blog, I also started my first job in the real world. Before landing such job, I had spent a year abroad, and the year before I was working at a local radio station in the same city I attended school.  That was no fun, real life started (according to me), only when I had moved into the big city.

You know, the equivalent (almost, kind of) to NYC – and I am only saying it for what it means/represents, let’s not get carried away here. So there I was, starting my bright new job with a non-profit. I guess it’s worth establishing two things at this point; one is that I’ve been openly gay for some years now, my family knows, they’re cool with it. My friends know and I never really had any issues at my previous jobs (not that I was super open about it), but people were OK with that. No biggie. Number two, is also worth noting that while Mexico City is very liberal and that, for instance, marriage between people of the same sex is legal, it’s still México, there’s still a lot of homophobia and close-minded people around. I’ve never faced them first-hand, but one never knows.

So there I was, starting this new job in the real world, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share that part of my life with them. With time, I came out to a couple friends and it went well. But then I started blogging. Every time I would type a word, every time I would send something for my friend to publish, I felt that I was coming out (and yes, I was). To strangers and friends, to people I knew in real life and people I only about online. More than that, this new people I was meeting at work would “find out about me” through those posts, because really, I was posting about Cynthia Nixon and Mischa Barton kissing Rachel Even Wood. I was constantly thinking about that meant. I was coming out through my writing.

It was a weird feeling, no one at my work place ever asked me anything about those posts, I don’t know if they ever read them, but I wondered anyway. My friend’s site is about empowerment, it’s not like a written rule, it’s not on his mission or vision, but we all know that at the end of the day, it’s partially what the website is all about. It’s partially why we write. We write about who we are, because we can, because we have the chance. It’s supposed to be somewhat relieving to know you have such opportunity, or that you have the ability to reach out to people and make them reflect on what they are reading. However, I wasn’t really feeling any of it.

So there I was, younger me, afraid and trying to figure out what my words would mean, beyond the screen. Probably not to the site costumers, (they are expecting it!), but how about the people that “didn’t know I was gay”? How about the people I only “met” online? How about the people I was working with? These days, I think they probably didn’t really care, but at the time it was something I feared. What my words would do for me. It’s scary. Coming to terms with your sexuality is also about coming to terms with how you portray out there in the world, and this new experience was forcing me to deal with how I felt about this world unknown and how people would find out more about me as a person.

Also, I understand how some people don’t come out at their work place: I have friends working at big corporations that think that their sexuality could prove to be a “disadvantage”, when trying to get a promotion; I have friends that work whose job’s peers have incredibly macho-like attitudes and knowing that someone is gay or lesbian could damage the working relationship. I know, some of you would think that it makes no sense, but just think for a second that, while there are plenty of educated people in this country, policies and social practices are far from equal. And let’s not even get started with the bigots and macho practices.

I am lucky to say that I had never faced any kind of negative criticism or have being ostracized for being gay, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t cross my mind from time to time. After I left my job and stopped writing, I realized that I never truly enjoyed writing those posts, that all the ideas I had, never came through because I was so scared. Now, looking back, I know that it was an experience I needed to go through. I never talked to anyone about my feelings about writing, because my friends know I am very open about my sexuality and of course I didn’t want to disappoint. But I had to learn a number of lessons; one being that sometimes, it’s ok to still be a little bit afraid, that I should openly discuss these fears with my friends, another lesson was that, at the end of the day, I really do want to write and I want to write about whatever I want (I really try) and, why should I let others get in the way? I am very well aware of what the situation is out there, but I also recognize the power words have.

That experience thought me that fearing my own words led me nowhere, except to the realization that the only way to being truth to yourself and your goals and the life that you want, takes not only courage, but also being ready to face and take the consequences (good and bad) that may arise when you decide to really be yourself. But really, being yourself is the only way to self-realization and I believe it is the only way we can really move forward and achieve some kind of happiness.

And all things aside, you know what? I am a really cool person.

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