I Just Came Out and I’m Not Gay
Every single one of us has the opportunity to “come out” whether we are LGBTIA or not; here’s why…
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I had the recent privilege of being one of the speakers at the University of Nevada TEDx event. Lesbian singer and song writer Jennifer Knapp was another featured speaker who I befriended. Her talk and music was about what it was like to come out as lesbian while catering her music to mostly conservative Christian groups. As I watched her talk it occurred to me that I was about to “come out” to the world in a big way when I finally stood up to deliver my talk as the last speaker. And my heart was pounding nearly out of my chest all day until the very moment I stepped out on that stage…
What Does “Coming Out” Even Mean?
The phrase “coming out” is typically associated with the act of acknowledging one’s LGBT orientation to the rest of the world. Yet, if we stand back a bit, it can have a much broader and even more powerful meaning. One that can actually apply to each and every one of us in a very positive and fulfilling way.
What if we looked at the act of coming out to more broadly mean acknowledging who we really are, at our very core, to the rest of the world. No longer hiding our true self in the shadows or “closet” as it were. How many of us are reticent to truly be ourselves because of concern or shame of what others may think. How many of us hold ourselves in reserve, not allowing full self-expression to emerge out of fear. From this perspective, the vast majority of our culture is still very much in the closet.
During my TEDx talk, I came out very publically to the rest of the world as a clinically impotent male who happened to find ways to experience extraordinary intimacy despite my “condition”. Let’s face it, this is not something most men would be comfortable revealing to a group of people, much less the world via YouTube. The reason I did it is the same one used by any LGBT person who chooses to come out. It’s time to end the shame. Not just for me personally, but for the millions of men and their partners who have the same condition and struggle in silence with it.
Coming Out is about Ending Shame and Being Vulnerable
Shame has got to be one of the most useless and damaging emotions a human being can have. It is based on and triggered by what others think about who we are or what we do. Even self-shame is largely a projection of what others think of us (or, what we think they think about us.) There is a world of difference between self-shame and being disappointed in one’s self. One is taking on other’s beliefs of how we should act or be while the other is an acknowledgement that we are fully responsible for how we show up in the world.
Coming out requires being vulnerable enough to authentically express ourselves exactly as we are, rather through the filter of others expectations. And, when done authentically, it usually results in a wonderful feeling of release, letting go of the pretenses, the secrets and the lies.
Coming Out Often Requires Great Courage
To allow yourself to be and show up in the world as you really are, warts and all, authentically and vulnerably typically requires a heaping dose of courage. When you finally take the step to “come out” and be the real you, expect push back from some friends, family and society at large. And, also expect to experience real freedom perhaps for the first time in your life.
For example my Life Partner (who is from Brazil) came out of the closet when she told her mother that getting married and having children was not on her wish list. Then her mom responded with “Why don’t you just have a child then?” And as a result of having this courage she is living the dream she always longed for and no longer felt imprisoned by her culture or its expectations of women just like her.
Whether you are LGBT, impotent or just quirky we all have a duty to ourselves to screw up the courage to be our authentic selves regardless of what others think. And a good place to start is to be excruciatingly honest with yourself as to what you are hiding from the rest of the world*. Whatever it is, it is part of who you are and that alone is all you need to feel the pride of “coming out”.
(* this obviously does not include striving to feel okay about behaviors or tendencies that are harmful to yourself or others.)
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About the Author
Michael J. Russer is a prostate cancer survivor who was left completely impotent as a result of his treatments. Yet, it was because of his impotence that he and his partner discovered an entirely new approach to emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy that far exceeds anything either experienced prior to when things were working “correctly.” His mission is to help men, women and couples everywhere to achieve extraordinary intimacy on all levels.
He is an international speaker, author and thought leader on the issues of human connection and intimacy. He also speaks pro-bono to Cancer Support Centers and Gilda’s Clubs around the U.S. for cancer survivors and their partners about regaining intimacy in the face of cancer. Go to MichaelRusserLive.com to explore the possibility of having Michael speak at your next event.
Michael is also a champion of the nonprofit men’s work being done by the ManKind Project (MKPUSA.org). He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2012.
iTunes: Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Disconnected World
TEDx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK8f8w7ICng