Coming Out / Over The Holidays

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Kristin's Coming Out Story

Mashed potatoes, overcooked stuffing, and an antibiotic-infused Butterball turkey: these are the markers of the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. Unless, of course, you were at my house on Novem- ber 26, 1998. If that were the case, you would have also found a slightly tipsy, wine-drinking mom; a smiling, story-telling dad; a sullen, pre- pubescent little sister; and me at the age of seventeen, clad in Salvation Army–sourced clothing, about to tell my parents that I was gay.

First, some background. Until my senior year in high school, I identified as a straight girl with very close girlfriends and a deep adoration for Liv Tyler. My very observant mother, however, had asked me countless times if I was a lesbian. My answer was always the same: “No, Mom, calm down and stop asking me!” Then, in the fall of 1997, I met a girl. We became friends. We hung out. We kissed. We liked kissing. We did some other stuff. This happened a few times, and then that thing happened. That oh-dear-God-my-stomach-is-squeezed-and-my-heart- is-in-my-throat thing. I liked this girl.

In addition to my oh-my-God-I’m-gay panic, I was horrified that my mother had been right all along. As we all know, telling your parents that they are right about anything is almost impossible between the ages of eleven and twenty-four. I didn’t breathe a word of my gayness to any- one but my close friends for almost a year, which brings us back to the Thanksgiving Day surprise.

Once my sister had left the table, I began to complain about an awful translation of the Bible that had been given to me by a relative. I said something like, “They make it sound like God hates gay people, but that is a load of BS.” My mom looked up from her stuffing, her eyes troubled by my angry tone, and asked, for the hundredth time, “Kristin, is there something you want to tell us?” Then . . . it just happened. I dug my fin- gers into my palm, mustered up as much teenage courage as I could, and answered, “Yes. I want to tell you both that I’m gay.”

Silence.

The first thing my parents said to me, and the thing I will always remember, was that I was their daughter and they would always love me. For that, I was (and still am) very thankful. After this initial reaction, however, my mother began what would be a very long journey in rec- onciling her love for her child with her deeply instilled religious beliefs. The first few years were very hard. My mother and I fought a lot. She cried a lot, and I yelled even more. Through all of it, though, we never stopped loving each other.

Over time, the yelling calmed into a dialogue. She allowed herself to meet my girlfriend. Our conversations progressed, and she began to ask me questions. Slowly, girlfriends were invited over for dinner, and my mother and I found common ground amid differing beliefs.

The thing about coming out is that it isn’t one moment at a Thanksgiving dinner table. It is a process that takes patience, understanding, and com- passion. It is different for everyone. All we can do is share as much of ourselves as we feel comfortable with and work diligently at accepting who we are, with or without the understanding of those around us.

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Coming Out on Thanksgiving: Kristin’s Story

Hey gaybeans.

In lieu of advice today, we thought it would be appropriate to share Kristin’s Coming Out story. Why, you ask? Well, mostly because she came out to her parents over Thanksgiving dinner - a moment that may be in your immediate future (knowingly or not). So, as many of you ready yourselves for a family holiday, here is how Kristin spent hers one million years ago.

Kristin Says:

Mashed potatoes, over-cooked stuffing, and an antibiotic-infused, Butterball turkey: these are the markers of the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. Unless, of course, you were at my house on November 26, 1998. If that were the case, you would have also found a slightly tipsy, wine-drinking mom, a smiling, story-telling dad, a sullen, pre-pubescent little sister, and me at the age of eighteen, clad in Salvation Army sourced clothing, about to tell my parents that I was a big homo.

First, some background. Up until my senior year in high school, I identified as a straight girl with very close girl friends and a deep adoration for Liv Tyler. My very observant mother, however, had asked me countless times if I was a lesbian. My answer was always the same: “No, Mom, calm down and stop asking me!” Then, in the fall of 1997, I met a girl. We became friends. We hung out. We kissed. We liked kissing. We did some other stuff. This happened a few times, and then that thing happened. That oh-dear-god-my-stomach-is-squeezed-and-my-heart-is-in-my-throat thing. I liked this girl.

In addition to my oh-my-god-I’m-gay panic, I was horrified that my mother had been right all along. As most of you know, telling your parents that they are right about anything is almost impossible between the ages of eleven and twenty-four. I didn’t breathe a word of my gayness to anyone but my close friends for almost a year…which brings us back to the Thanksgiving Day surprise.

Once my sister had left the table to go doodle in her Lisa Frank notebook, I began to complain about an awful translation of the Bible that had been given to me by a relative. I said something like, “Mo-OM. They make it sound like God hates gay people, but that is a load of bullshit.” My mom looked up from her stuffing, her eyes troubled by my angry tone, and asked, for the hundredth time, “Kristin, is there something you want to tell us?” Then…it just happened. I dug my fingers into my palm, mustered up as much teenage-courage as I could, and answered, “Yes. I want to tell you both that I’m gay.”

Silence.

The first thing that my parents said to me, and the thing I will always remember, was that I was their daughter and they would always love me. For that I was, and still am, very thankful. After this initial reaction, however, my mother began what would be a very long journey in reconciling her love for her child with her deeply-instilled religious beliefs. The first few years were very hard. My mother and I fought a lot. She cried a lot and I yelled even more. Through all of it, though, we never stopped loving each other.

Over time, the yelling calmed into a dialogue. She allowed herself to meet some of my girlfriends. Our dialogue progressed, and she began to ask me questions. Slowly, my girlfriends were invited over for dinner, and my mother and I found common ground amidst differing beliefs.

The thing about ‘coming-out,’ is that it isn’t one moment at a Thanksgiving dinner table. It is a process that takes patience, understanding, and compassion. It is different for everyone. All we can do is share as much of ourselves as we feel comfortable with, and work diligently at accepting who we are, with or without the understanding of those around us.

 

 

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“So I’m visiting my extended family for Thanksgiving, and I’m staying at my aunt’s house. She and my uncle already know I’m gay, but the rest of the family still doesn’t (or at least I haven’t told them yet). What are some funny, not-to-awkward ways to come out to my family at Thanksgiving?”

- Question submitted by thegingerjew

Dannielle Says:

I’m pretty sure Kristin came out to her family by yelling “I AM SORT OF GAY, I THINK” over thanksgiving dinner.

So, you should just do that.

But if you don’t feel comfortable yelling, you could laugh uncontrollably and when your family is like ‘sally mae, are you alright?!” you can just say ‘well, isn’t it funny how gay i am?!’ and when they look at you confused you can say ‘what?’ and they’re like ‘are…are you…really gay… or…’ and you can be like ‘omg. i’m so glad you asked, i’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring it up ALL WEEKEND’

When it comes down to it… just make sure you’re fo sure at a place where you’re ready to come out to your entire family. You seem like you are, but for those of you who are heading home for the holidays and feeling like you should tell e’erone who you’re boning, DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO.

Coming out should happen when you’re most comfortable and HOW you’re most comfortable. If singing a song and posting it to youtube is the way to go, BY ALL MEANS go for it. If making sweet potatoes and spelling out ‘i’m a gay’ in marshmallows is how you wanna do it, PLEASE DO SO. If sending your family a mass email with a picture of you kissing a Taylor Swift poster is how it’s going down, PLEASE BE MY GUEST.

This is your life and your family and your coming out, so you gotta do you*

*phrase originated on Jersey Shore

Kristin Says:

Oh my god. Please, please, if you care about me at all, come out to your family via marshmallow. It would make my entire Thanksgiving complete. NOT THAT THIS IS ABOUT ME BUT LIKE COME ON.

Now, for you in particular, Ginger Jew, it sounds like this is not an incredibly stressful decision on your part because you just want to know a way to make it not-so-awkward. In that case, I would either just wait until someone asks you if you have a boyfriend, and then raise your voice really loud in a really uncomfortable and awkward way, fake punch that person in the arm, and say, “DID YOU ASK IF I HAVE A BOYFRIEND AUNT SALLY? THAT SURE IS A GREAT QUESTION BUT I AM ACTUALLY NOT INTO DATING BOYS AT ALL. I LOVE TO DATE GIRLS.” Then slowly look around the room and fake embarrassment and say, “Oops. Did you all just hear that?”

Now…to those of you who are going home and thinking about using this time with your family to tell them how it really is (i.e.: you like boobs, etc), let me just give you a few pointers.

1. Wait until dinner is over. Coming out over dessert or coffee is always more pleasant.

2. Don’t do it in a long line at Macy’s on Black Friday. There is no way to be decent about anything under such circumstances.

3. Remember that, despite an initial, less-than-favorable reaction, your family will sometimes need some time to process this new information. Don’t take the Thanksgiving Day reaction as an end-all be-all. Give it time.

4. Check out my Thanksgiving coming out story here.

5. Watch Ingrid Michaelson sing at the Thanksgiving Day parade.

…that last one was just for fun.

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