5 Lessons Learned Since Coming Out
5 Lessons Learned
by Kirsten & Lucy
1) Lucy is brave: This is not really a revelation. Since Lucy was a little kid, I have marveled at her bravery. When she was five years old, she hopped on stage at the summer camp talent show and popped and locked her way to victory. When she was seven, she competed in figure skating competitions. Watching her tiny form move across the giant ice rink all by herself took my breath away. Then she started riding horses. Have you seen horses? They are ENORMOUS and TERRIFYING. And yet Lucy thought nothing of climbing up in the saddle and riding around the ring. So this kid is clearly braver than I’ll ever be. But when she came out to her family and then started sharing her status openly at school in seventh grade (wearing a t-shirt that said “Mentally Dating Sara Quin,” obviously), I was in awe. And worried. I would question Lucy constantly—“Are you going to wear that to school? Will people give you a hard time?” And then, “Did anyone say anything to you about that shirt? Are you sure?” Lucy would roll her eyes and say, “It’s fine, Mom.” And it was. But man, she’s brave.
2) Lucy has great friends: The more “out” Lucy was, the more I worried. She’d had a great group of friends throughout elementary and middle school, but I wondered if that would change when kids knew she was gay. But none of Lucy’s friends ever batted an eyelash. They have been supportive of Lucy as she has started to date other girls and protective when relationships haven’t gone smoothly. Before the big eighth grade dance last year, when what seemed like a million kids got together at a local park to take pictures, Lucy was right there in the middle (in blazer and Doc Martens) with her female date—and it was NO. BIG. DEAL. Lucy’s friends have never excluded her or made her feel different because she’s gay. And I really love them for that.
3) Lucy is a great friend: After Lucy entered high school, she continued to broaden her network with new friends, both gay and straight. I’ve noticed that, in particular, the gay kids who are struggling to come out or who are having problems with their relationships with their parents gravitate to her. She’s a good sounding board and supportive friend to kids who are having a hard time. I’m glad those kids have someone like Lucy on their side.
4) Lucy has lots of things to teach me: There are a lot of gay people in my family, and even more in my circle of friends. (“Some of my best friends are gay!” There. I said it. But I swear it’s true!!) I like to think I’m pretty open-minded. But when Lucy sits down at the dinner table and starts talking to me about demisexuality, pansexuality, and transphobia, I am reminded that I have a lot to learn. And I know she won’t believe me when I say that I try to be patient when she schools me in the ways of the world, because sometimes I find myself rolling my eyes, just like a teenager. I’m working on that.
5) Lucy is Lucy: Lucy is a great kid. She always has been. The Lucy who came out when she was 13 is the same Lucy who wore her friend’s baseball uniform to the princess party, who watched “Little Bear” with a beatific expression on her face when she was three, and who read voraciously from the time she was big enough to hold a book. Now she wears combat boots to the formal, watches YouTube videos of Hannah Hart and Tegan & Sara with that same “Little Bear” expression on her face, and listens to music constantly (we have epic battles over our shared Spotify account). Lucy is Lucy and being gay is just one facet of her Lucy-ness. I do think it’s made us closer—I am honored that she has shared this part of herself with me, and that she continues to teach me about what it means to her.
I’ve learned a lot about my parents since coming out, and I think they’ve learned a lot more about me besides the fact that I am a queer kid. Sharing something of this magnitude with someone obviously brings you closer together, and with that closeness comes new information and facets of people’s personalities. Some things I’ve learned about my parents are:
1) Even the most accepting parents need some time to adapt: Although they have never said it outright, I’m positive that my parents didn’t immediately begin to think of me as a “gay kid” as soon as I started coming out. What I mean by that is that I’m sure it took them time to adjust their view of me so that they could include “likes girls” as one of the facets of my personality that they had to account for. Additionally, I came out in stages (bicurious, then bi, now queer), which may have made it difficult for them to keep up. As I come to terms with my sexuality, however, they keep up as much as they can, always asking if I feel safe at school and if anyone “gives me a hard time,” and always pointing out cute girls to me in the same way that many parents point out potential matches for their heterosexual kids.
2) I am incredibly lucky to have parents as supportive as mine are: I know a lot of kids whose parents don’t view their sexual/gender orientation as valid, or who refuse to listen to their children when they point out issues or try to inform them about issues in the LGBQ+ community. Having such parents has made it exponentially harder for them to come out, whether it be to themselves or to others. My parents are the complete opposite. They try to understand and accept me for exactly who I am, and they do a great job. They listen to me when I tell them about new terms or explain why something they are saying is problematic, and my father especially does his own research in his spare time, and sometimes brings events to my attention that even I was unaware of.
3) It might seem harder to go to parents for advice after coming out, but if you have a supportive family, they will do their best to understand and help you in your journey. My parents certainly have.
4) Coming out didn’t change life as much as I expected it to: Besides the obvious change in my identity, my life remained constant. While considering when and how to come out, I had assumed my life would change on a grand scale. It did not. My friends remained the same, although few did come out to me asking for advice. My parents loved me just as much, and they supported me in every way they could.
5) My mom* is rad as heck, and I appreciate her ever-growing knowledge and acceptance of me.
(*My dad is rad, too.)
I’m Kirsten. I’ve been married to Richard for 20 years (!) and in addition to Lucy, we have 2 dogs and 4 ¾ cats (one of them only has 3 legs!). I work full-time at a non-profit social services agency. I’m basically addicted to Instagram and I love to read, bake, and make art. I’m dying to get a new tattoo. Suggestions? Find me on Instagram or Twitter @kjerstieb.
I’m Lucy, I'm 15, I'm queer, and I have a real passion for making sure that dogs know they are loved. I post stuff on instagram @yung_olson