Coming out is tricky.
Being out, is a many splendid thing.
But the process, whew, coming out is difficult.
I came out to my mother when I was 29. I owned my own house, paid my own bills. *cues I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T* Do you know what that means? I was good and grown. I was at a point in my life where I had created the life that I wanted. Having to come out to my only living parent, even while needing no real permission, was ab.so.lutely. terrifying. It is still one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had.
Gay. Bisexual. Pansexual. Lesbian. Same Gender Loving. Homoflexible. Sexually fluid. Allofum. Gay. Just Gay.
All of them applied. None of them were what my mother wanted to hear. And that was all I could think about. “This isn’t the child that she prayed for” and “she only has one child.” “She will never see me the same.” God Bless my mother! For her, as long as I still wanted children she expressed her love and desire for me to be happy. God BLESS my amazing mother!
This is the gotcha, gotcha… You never stop doing it.
I didn’t know being out meant I was signing up for a lifetime of coming out.
How many of these conversations, pauses… lumps in my throat… anxious hesitations will I have to experience exactly ?!?!??
It’s funny, I don’t have to come out as black or southern or rural or as a woman. My class generally tells on itself. My southern drawl mixed with Spelman vernacular are undeniable. Other intersectional oppressions at least do the work of naming themselves.
Being gay, isn’t quite set up like that. It is a truth that invites you to claim its space. It’s a truth that comes in and pulls up a chair when you look back at it in the mirror.
Every time my partner and I have to check a hotel before we book, or be careful of what part of the world we choose to travel to,
When I have to weigh my safety against a man’s unwanted advances that are especially aggressive because of my friends’ gender expression,
Every time I think of inviting my family to an event,
Absolutely every time I stand to preach the gospel in a new place or
When the odu falls with the blessing of a husband…
I come out. Again.
It never becomes normal. I don’t know that the lump ever goes away. It is hard, having to announce your humanity. To strategize when, how, where and to whom you name your truth. What coming out has taught me, is that truth too, is a many splendid thing. Truth changes and transforms you. Truth often is resisted because it requires that space is made. The truth is, coming out is about going [with]in.
Truth has also re-membered for me, that we have queer ancestors and we have queer children. We have queer siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. We love queer people and queer gifts, we just don’t always know to do about the queerness of it all.
About my queerness, I have become unapologetic. I was queer before I had a sexual identity. I was always the child who asked questions no one would say out loud. I was the kid who stood up for other kids no matter who I had to resist, adults included. It is in my nature to queer paradigms and resist norms. Queer sexuality for me was the truth that made room for all the other gifts queer had long left at the doorstep of my soul.
Being black and queer in this world is a strange thing because it takes a strange amount of courage to paint rainbow brushstrokes across a blank canvas. A blank canvas not because it wasn’t here before, but because we didn’t make space. I remember the day I realized I was a black girl attracted to other black girls the way I was black boys. I stood in my adolescent room and assumed that something was wrong with me and what I knew to be true had to be impossible. Who I knew I was purposed to be could not be gay. I had not seen it, so I couldn’t be it.
Simply, I didn’t know that who I am was possible. Coming out makes me real.
And I’m going to say it, be it, love it, live in the fullness of its beauty, unapologetically.
A gay black woman pastor.
A sexually fluid Orisa priest.
A queer spiritual leader.
Much like the narratives of our enslaved ancestors, you cannot know I was here, if I do not tell you. I had no idea that day that I would spend the rest of my life with the sacred opportunity of coming out, going in, coming alive, and coming along … this magnificent journey.
Let’s swing the closet door all the way open. Beloved, We are not wrong. God was not wrong in creating me, you or anyone queer in anyway. Who you love is glorious and how you live sexually liberated is holy.
The manifestation of the divine in my body is never absent of my sexuality or my sexual embodiment. God shows up in that too. I know, it’s a queer way to be in the world.
ALL of YOUr creation is GOOD, exactly the way you are, your whole self, without exception of any part. For the creator, each of us is a beautiful wonder. To know and live this truth is in itself a queer journey and the work is indeed worth the trip, trust me, Nena Knows.