I’m Ang Frank, co-founder of Closets Are For Clothes. Since this is the first post, why not start from the beginning? Who doesn’t love a good coming out story? Maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll share mine one day. Coming out is a roller coaster ride of emotions, and nobody’s experience is exactly the same. Some coming out stories are surprisingly happy, while others are heart wrenching and everywhere in between. I’d be lying if I told you that coming out is a cake walk. It isn’t a cake walk. But I CAN tell you that there is CAKE at the end of this walk. I know it’s a little soon to be promising you cake, but I’m an honest girl and you can hold me to my word. I promise cake, if you promise to keep walking. My hope is to help give you the guts, and the courage, and everything else that it takes to make the best of your own story.
I am going to assume that you are LGBT and not currently out. I will also assume that you hope to bust down that door sometime in the near future (I know I am making a lot of assumptions. I apologize).
Coming to terms with sexual identity can be a battle in itself. Some just know, and it’s as simple as that. Some people, me for instance, had no idea until it hit me like a ton of bricks one day in my twenties. It was like someone handed me all of the missing pieces to the puzzle and I could finally see the big picture. Suddenly every little thing made sense. Suddenly, I understood the world’s obsession with hand holding and FRENCH KISSING. It was one big “Aha” moment after another.
Some will struggle with fighting these feelings until the day they die, but not you, because you are braver than you know. You deserve to experience happiness unfiltered. One thing to keep in mind during the coming out process is that no one else’s happiness is more important than your own. This isn’t about selfishness; it’s about being able to take off the mask and be comfortable with your reflection in the mirror. This isn’t a “lifestyle choice.” It’s a truce, a white flag to end the war within.
Not everyone is going to understand, and that’s okay. Humans have a hard time understanding anything or anyone that breaks the mold. We have trouble embracing our differences and often use them to build barriers between us. We overlook the beauty and strength that diversity creates. We forget how terribly dull this place would be without it. At times we are blinded by the walls we have created to divide us. If you’re lucky, you live on the privileged side. The side that gets to pretend discrimination does not exist, because they’ve never had to experience it. On the other side is where courage and bravery is found, in the hearts of the underdogs. Everyone knows our track record, we have a history of victory.
I know there are real reasons for hiding. Some people in this world aren’t as open minded as we might like them to be, but I promise, we’re getting there. It is hard to see progress when you’re standing still. Keep marching forward and you’ll see just how far we’ve come. Maybe you fear disappointing your family and friends. I am going to let you in on a little secret. I bet some of them already know, or at least have a slight suspicion. I remember sitting my brother down to tell him that I was a lesbian. His reaction was as if I told him what color my eyes were. I thought it would be this huge surprise. He said two things to me that day that I will never forget. First, he said, “you act like I didn’t know this already.” And the next thing he said was “I’ve always wanted a brother.” I think he was excited to be able to talk about ladies together. My point though is that your “big secret” might not be so secret. Think about it. These people have known you the longest. Do you really think they aren’t suspicious of your ever-growing flannel collection, or the fact that you prefer to wear pant suits to weddings? Do you really think they haven’t noticed your lack of interest in men? They remember that weird shit you made your Barbies do as a kid. I bet you just said to yourself, “I didn’t have Barbies. I had GI Joes.” Exactly my point! Your family has watched you grow into the person you are today. They might not be as clueless as you think.
Unless you are a method actor, the news you are about to deliver might not be as big of a shock as you assume it will be. It’s like this. Think about when you go to the doctor and you have to get a shot. The worst part about it is not the actual shot. It’s the anticipation of it all. The smell of alcohol, the way they tie that giant rubber-band to make your vein swell. By the time the needle goes in, you realize you’ve worked yourself all up for a tiny pin prick. The hard part is getting the courage to get it over with. In your case, it is admitting to yourself, and to your loved ones, that you are
(fill in the blank)
Once you come clean- no matter the response, you will feel immediate relief, as if you have been holding your breath up until this day. The moment you say it out loud, you set yourself free. Never mind the mess at your feet, it is not permanent. I never said it wouldn’t get messy. In fact, if it doesn’t get messy, I’m not entirely sure you’re doing it right. Think about cleaning your room. Doesn’t it usually get even messier before the progress comes? Consider this the disaster before the finished product. I know it can be overwhelming, but if you stop and take a nap you will lose your momentum.
Everyone reacts differently when responding to this conversation. Keep in mind that it can be awkward for all parties involved, not just you. People handle emotional situations differently. If you receive a not so great reaction, please remember that these things take time. I know firsthand these things take time. When I came out, I expected my dad to react the best out of anyone. I was wrong, he was devastated. For the first few months he wouldn’t even look at a picture of my girlfriend, let alone meet her. We didn’t speak of her and he pretended that she did not exist until one day he called me up and invited the both of us to dinner. It started getting better from there. It has been five years and he has completely turned around. But if you were to ask me five years ago, I would have told you that he was a lost cause. He said some pretty awful things in the beginning. Remember not everyone is so brilliant with words, and in the heat of the moment, we have all been known to say some things we don’t really mean. Stand your ground. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t belong here. You belong here and we cherish each and every one of you. Although our stories may be different, we share our underdog hearts, and a record of being undefeated. Remember my promise, and don’t stop until you find your cake.
Closets Are For Clothes, and you are incredible.