Shortly after moving to Seattle, I began seeing a therapist who specialized in work with the LGBTQ+ community. I moved across the country with the intention of coming out to my friends and family but needed some help to cross the finish line. Up to this point, I had been sneaking around, living through apps, and sharing coded social media posts. The secrecy of it all was exhausting. I needed to free myself from the shackles of a burden created both internally and by outside forces.
Sitting in the office of my therapist, we talked through my fears. We worked through my preconceived notions. More importantly, we made a plan. I needed to find small wins to work through those issues that scared me. In these wins, I would find my slice of community. With more confidence, I would work toward coming out to those I love and, eventually, the world.
First, I started dating. I used some of the more reputable dating apps to meet people, expand my network, and find comfort in those with shared experiences. Next, I began attending networking events focused on bringing together young professional members of the LGBTQ+ community. Here, I would meet people standing outside of “the scene” focused on advancing professionally while still being true to themselves. At these events, I met people who I still consider some of my best friends in Seattle.
As the weeks passed, I began constructing my ideal partner. Nothing reveals the truth like a bad date. I also expanded my network, built new friendships, and felt more confident walking around Capitol Hill. Soon, the weeks turned into months, and I decided it was time to begin telling friends. Instead of endless individual conversations, I wrote a letter and emailed it to 25 people who meant the most to me in this world. Overwhelmingly, the feedback was positive. All 25 people said they had my back and were happy to stand next to me throughout this journey.
With this monumental load lifted from my shoulders, I turned my attention to my family. My family was owed a face-to-face conversation, but I could not bring myself to do it. A lifetime of experiences was keeping me from taking the next step. In the end, I mailed my mom and dad a letter. It arrived in late October, and I did not hear from my parents for four weeks. Then, unexpectedly, I got a call asking if I was coming home for Christmas.