My Coming Out Story

A close friend of my husband and I shared their own story of coming out as non-binary to their co-workers, something they have never done before. They shared how it helped them navigate their workplace as a safe place, helped them filter those who understood their position and find their ‘people’ easier, and reaffirmed their identity through those who confirmed and respected their non-binary identity.

It made me think about aspects of my personality that I am concerned about enough to show as primary marker of my own identity. I have always been adamant about shaping my own personality and identity independently – that is, I don’t find issue in people mistaking me for Chinese, Korean or any other Asian identity because ‘We all look the same’, whether or not they call me Harmony or Ellise, or mistake me as strictly cis-female. It has never been my concern to correct other people’s perspective of me because I am completely myself by myself. Whatever words they use to define me don’t hold water; I am who I am, and I don’t need society to confirm this identity for me.

Whether someone accepts me for who I am, as I represent myself authentically in every social interaction, will decide whether or not they will stay. Everybody else is cannon fodder.

But why do people come out? There must be validity in the practice, if others find it so liberating. ‘Coming out’ is a taking off of the mask and costume of some sorts, a revelation intended to celebrate the advent of one’s true colours. To put it in the most blunt of ways, coming out saves people time figuring out who you are, and protects the person who is coming out from future awkward and painful social interactions from people who misunderstand.

I suppose if there was any aspect of my personality that has to ‘come out’, it wouldn’t be about my gender identity – it would be about my mental diagnoses. Perhaps saying, “I’m bipolar and a recovering addict, so there are times when I’ll be singing in my cubicle, having the time of my life and convincing everyone to have a shot of vodka at lunch, and times when I won’t talk to you for days and mumble something about ‘At least I’m here’ when asked how my day is going at work, would save a lot of my co-workers’ from concern and puzzlement.

I’ve had co-workers, who, genuinely concerned about my quick turn in mood, corner me in the lunchroom and ask, ‘Why are you so sad? Is your boyfriend beating you? What’s going on?’ or take me for an after-work bite and advise me, ‘You need to take the time to take care of yourself. I’ve noticed you staring off into space for hours at a time and it really worries me’.

‘A recovering addict’ is also something I would like to come out as. Maybe not to people I am just meeting, but to my friends. I have long been known as the one who partakes in a lot of intoxicating substances, and there are still some awkward situations that play out to this day, after over two years of being completely sober (and pregnant!) where I will show up to a gathering and there would be a combination of pink drinks and cocktails already mixed for me on arrival. I still have not completely figured out a way to navigate this situation. It always ends up with me accepting the drink, smiling for their thoughtfulness, and then leaving it untouched for the rest of the night. I just don’t know how to gently remind my friends that I don’t drink anymore – but at least they are thinking of me ahead of time?

I also cringed when a friend of mine said that one of the ways I would get Johan (my yet to be born son) to eat vegetables is to pour vodka all over my own plate of vegetables to entice me to eat them, in order for me to show Johan that I love vegetables as well. I am just not that kind of person anymore (p.s. vegetables are a scam and I genuinely believe people who say they love them are lying).

It is hard for me to explain to my friends that the times they found most memorable and happy with me when we were young, carefree, and intoxicated. The memories they have built their identities on were among the saddest times of my life. This is not to say that I don’t appreciate those times with my friends. I believe those moments in our friendships were truly genuine and full of joy, but I have also now welcomed a new happiness in my life in which I do not need adrenaline, excitement, or intoxication to feel liberated and carefree. I have found those qualities within myself, without needing the aid of chemicals.

Leave it to Harmony to get over smoking weed as soon as weed became legal. Great timing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all perform different versions of our own ‘coming out’ story. It will always be an act of bravery, and a celebration of identities. Something that we should be proud of, as each coming out is a creation of a safe space that you deserve and are worthy of, a marker of the adversity you face for being out of the norm, whatever the norm constitutes of. I am all for it and would like to see a new world where every new social interaction is a coming out of sorts, and where each of us is brave and open-minded enough to allow ourselves and others to be who they are, and to accept and love themselves in all their unique ways.

2 responses to “My Coming Out Story”

  1. I think is part of growing up too, we notice different things about our relationships as we change. The important thing is you are taking care of your health and your baby while getting so much perspective. Beautifully written post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That is an amazing thought – coming out as part of growing up, I like that!

      Liked by 1 person

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