Coming Out: When the Closet has more of a Revolving door.

Sometimes it feels like the proverbial closet one ‘comes out’ of actually has a revolving door.

Having children has been the best thing that I could ever have done with my life. But never in a million years could I have imagined the way that being part of a same sex family could permeate my life. I guess that is part of my motivation for sharing some of my experiences.

It’s been a long road to get here, thankfully one that has become easier the more time passes. While as I have said previously I can’t recall ever experiencing any full blown discrimination, I have experienced countless moments of conversational awkwardness.

It’s not harmful, I acknowledge that, but no one likes feeling awkward.

And it gets so tiresome having to constantly explain yourself.

Considerations have to be made every time before mentioning my same sex relationship status. I’m guilty of taking the easy route at times, when dealing with people I don’t know, or chance encounters, simply because I hate making well-meaning folk feel awkward or like they have ‘said the wrong thing’ when they mention my ‘husband’.

I loathe the raised eyebrows or embarrassed look I get when I stop and correct them. It’s just so awkward.

It doesn’t help that I dress in such a ‘mainstream’ manner, as people really don’t expect it from me. In my role as a teacher I avoid like the plague all conversations and personal pronouns about my partner. I have developed a remarkable knack for being able to deflect and quickly change the subject.

The ‘coming out’ experience truly NEVER ends.

Every new teacher your kids have at school each year, every new job, every new hobby or interest involves meeting new people, which inevitably always ends up back at that same dreaded ‘coming out’ conversation.

‘Oh no, I don’t have a husband, my partner is a female’.

‘But you have children! Were you married before?’

‘Um, no’.

Insert awkward silence here.

And then I wait for a reaction. Most times, I can tell within seconds whether or not someone is ‘OK’ with it. Nine times out of ten they recover well.

But it’s rare that the conversation just flows easily after this. We generally have to wear people down, like a pair of new shoes that need breaking in. It’s strange and unusual and people take a while to wrap their heads around it.

What was frightening about the same sex plebiscite was exactly how many people out there still don’t like the idea of same sex couples marrying. In our comfortable, protected circles of family, friends, team mates and work colleagues we get lured into a false sense of security that most people know us and understand. The plebiscite was a blaring horn shattering our blissful illusion.

Yes we won alright, but it wasn’t a landslide.

Yes times are changing and yes we are moving forward.

But it is a slow process, and ours is a road that is always going to be less travelled, and therefore less understood.

I look forward to the day where finally I can slam that closet door shut, knowing I’ll never again need to retreat there again.

6 thoughts on “Coming Out: When the Closet has more of a Revolving door.

  1. The foibles of human nature that you lay bare here Shannon are completely authentic.

    Sometimes we think we’ve reached milestones in life and will never have to fight old battles again. Yet life’s tapestry is always the past interwoven with the present. New people we meet along life’s journey (cliche alert pinging) sometimes have us explaining things all over again with the accompanying awkward moments.

    Thing is it never repeats EXACTLY the same because we get better at handling the situation. And so we gradually, sometimes painfully inch towards evolving and tomorrow becomes a new day but with similarities to yesterday.

    God I better stop there!
    I can feel the thread of my thoughts starting to unravel bigtime…

    In short, you’ve touched upon some universal truths about the daily slog of moving forward (cliche alert again!) for all of us (even though the nature of our challenges will vary) and by doing that have united us for at least the time it took to read the post and in my case several days haste.


    1. Oh Glen you have such a way with words. You are exactly right, and yes we do evolve into stronger, wiser people more versed in handling these challenging conversations. I have more confidence now in how I present myself and my family, and I seek less and less approval from others. The wisdom that comes from age and experience is not to be understated here. As a new mother sixteen years ago, I remember being almost apologetic in my introductions; wary of others’ judgement and all too susceptible to it. Now I am content in the knowledge that always there will be those who find it too far removed from their own life experience, and so I can simply let them pass by and not feel that same burning urge to try and change their minds. Most people embrace us, and I choose to celebrate this instead.
      Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I first read the post Shannon I knew I wanted to engage with it more than simply by just pressing the ‘Like’ button. It took a few days for my thoughts to percolate.

    The essence of a number of things you’ve touched upon – albeit perhaps outside of the exact context you were describing – are very relateable. And as mostly everyone would agree, ‘relate-ability’ is one of the hallmarks of a truly memorable blog post that sticks with the reader long after they’ve clicked off the page.


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