This blog is the second in our National Coming Out Day 2021 series: a personal coming out story authored by ISC Training & Development Manager, Vernice Thorn. For more information and resources on National Coming Out Day, click here.
October 11th is “National Coming Out” day. As a retired pastor and counselor and current Intake Manager at IntraSpectrum, I believe coming out is an event that happens over and over again in our lives.
I am thankful for my gay sisters and brothers for claiming that phrase as an experience of authenticity. I hear it as a public declaration and celebration of identity. And so this day gives us an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the gift of identity that each of us brings to the world.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where barriers often divide us by identity – and as a result we spend so much of our time and energy trying to visualize ourselves as wonderfully made and loved, against a backdrop of exclusionary tactics. That is why the need to come out and continue to come out is necessary. IntraSpectrum is a place which provides safe space and community to live out our authentic selves, supported by trained and insightful staff. As a member of that staff, I want to share an experience that reminds me, a straight black woman, of the need to “come out”.
I have a vivid memory that is as fresh in my minds eye as though it happened yesterday. I was about six years old and was standing in the bathroom looking in the only mirror in the house. I had this perplexed look on my face as I stared at myself. I was thinking, something’s wrong with the way I look. My Barbie doll looks different. The people on the TV set look different. What’s wrong with me? That image and that question has plagued me all my life. My family did not discuss race. Our difference was neither acknowledged nor affirmed. What I know now is without affirmation difference becomes “not normal.” Beneath my quest for justice is a desire to be seen as “normal”; to not live in a reality where my difference makes me an outsider. That longing continues to influence the way in which I show up in the world.
As we commemorate “coming out”, I would request that each of us ask ourselves where are the places of fear and pain that keep us locked up tight; those places that hinder wholeness? Is it our sexual orientation or gender? Is it our ethnicity or skin color? (for those of us who have dark skin, there are still ways to be closeted around our identity). Is it our mental illness, or physical illness? Is it a relational or familial connection we would just soon no one know about? Is it an addiction we keep silent about? Is it some type of abuse we are experiencing? Whatever painful circumstance we are keeping locked away, I offer my “coming out” experience to let you know, you are not alone. And on this National Coming out Day, I support and celebrate all of who you are, and all of who we are together!
IntraSpectrum Intake Manager
IntraSpectrum Counseling, Chicago’s leading psychotherapy practice dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community, is commemorating National Coming Out Day ALL WEEK – with coming out stories, blogs, and resources for LGBTQ+ individuals, friends and allies. Check back often, and take time to celebrate in your own way – even if coming out today doesn’t feel safe or comfortable, know that you always have our support. For anyone needing affirming and validating support in their healing, please click here or email us at email@example.com.