When’s the last time you “came out?” No longer merely a term for revealing one’s gayness (and hopefully we won’t even need to use it there one day), we should probably thank LGBTQIA folks who’ve inspired the terminology we can all benefit from. Anyone who has ever come out as who they truly are is a brave badass worth celebrating.
Nearly every time I interview someone about their journey to more authentic, empowered living, they share a “coming out” story of sorts—which makes perfect sense to me. Coming out isn’t about changing ourselves, but embracing the truth of who we really are and wish to be. And doing it out loud.
It isn’t easy. More often it’s dang hard. But the reward, HOLY SMOKES. They are worth every daunting effort. If you have any doubt or could use guidance or inspiration, I hope you’ll listen to the latest Girl Boner Radio episode on iTunes or below!
Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Michelle Mangione, an incredible musician, whose journey, insight and music we can all learn so much from.
We explored her career as a singing/songwriter/drummer (who plays percussion with her feet!), what it was like to fall in love with a woman while being married to a man in her 20s, how she’s found strength and healing after a horrible car accident and more.
When I asked Michelle what she’d share with anyone listening who wants to live more authentically, but feels trapped on the other side, she said this:
That almost makes me cry, because I know for so long I couldn’t. The fear will be replaced tenfold by the freedom, if you just step out. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone so many times, and I have fallen on my ass. I have taken risks and fallen on my ass so many times, in front of people. And it’s scary.
I feel like every time I play a song for someone I’m stripping down naked, and sometimes when somebody has a bad reaction to my being real and presenting myself, it’s almost like I’m standing naked and they’re telling me, ‘Put your clothes back on.’ That feeling is just so humiliating to me. The fear of that for so long stopped me from being who I really wanted to be, which is quirky and weird, and I’m kind of a geek in so many ways…and that’s okay. And I’m like, ‘okay, bring it on’ now. I just hope that people, myself included, can continue to just play what you play, be who you are. Make the mistakes that you are afraid of making. And get back up, man!”
I also asked a couple of folks to chime in on their own coming out experiences. Writer KM Huber shared excerpts from her powerful contribution to Nasty Women Project: Voices from the Resistance, including these:
When I think of being out, I think of the day Matthew Shepard is found hanging on a rail fence—alive—more scarecrow than human. ‘Hate comes to Wyoming’ is what the statewide newspaper headline reads, as if hate were new to us. We are the land of Gretel Ehrlich’s ‘solace of open spaces.’ Room for everyone. Matthew Shepard is murdered and tortured by people who live in Wyoming, have always lived in Wyoming. Solace for some but not space for all…
Signs of Matt in hell and God hates fags sway in their sturdy righteousness. They take all the space they need, these true believers. With others, I stand on ‘our’ side of a drooping police tape. We hold our umbrellas high, trying to block out a hate that is bigger than all of us. We are so naïve in our whiteness. Soon umbrellas sag under the weight of snowflakes…
I look into the eyes of the bearded youth holding the Matt in hell sign. He looks straight through me—my rage unseen, my fear ignored. I do not matter. Pure hate, one-on-one, white-on-white. I am 46 years old on the day I first own being a lesbian.”
Sandra LaMorgese, PhD shared thoughts on coming out as a professional dominatrix in her mid-50s, including:
At the time, I was convinced that this switch was an improbability because of my age. However, as ridiculous as it all sounded to me, I felt this experience would empower me as a woman, both personally and professionally and get me in touch with my sexuality. Once I came out on my social networks about my switch and received positive reinforcement, I started to become more confident…
Beyond the negativity that I still receive on the internet and in-person, it’s the positive reinforcement that keeps me motivated. Every time a woman or a man or woman emails me to thank me for my courage and authenticity, I get lifted up. This is where I find my strength and motivation to continue…
When I finally decided I was ready for a real change, I was feeling really good about who I was, who I wanted to become, and how I wanted to inspire others. I decided that the only way to continue evolving, was to take bigger risks.”
Amen! Such beautiful takeaways.
What about you all? What has coming out taught you? In what ways do you hope to emerge as your fuller, truer self? Let us know in the comments below, or write me privately through the contact tab with any questions or challenges of your own you’d like explored on Girl Boner. Sending love all around!