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Coming Out/Dark Night of the Soul

I came out during the pandemic, both as bi and as genderfluid (or gender wobbly as I call it with my partner).

It was a bit of a process to say the least. Quite frankly, it still is!

As with most things, having a term for something like this can be quite reductionist - no two people will experience the same thing when it comes to 'coming out'. Coming out is sometimes an event, a moment, a realization, a journey...a lifetime. And it also isn't linear. Or straight. (Haha). Coming out also doesn't have to be a finality, which is something I didn't know.

I had been thinking about my sexuality for quite some time before I really put a pin in it and felt comfortable to let people know what was going on. I always wondered if I might be bi, though I have never had a relationship with someone who didn't identify as a man. This is confusing. I think there are a lot of people out there who, when trying to understand non-straight feelings get hung up on this, thinking well how could you possibly know? I realized that as a queer person, I also had that same exact question. How could I possibly know? I have a pretty good imagination, so I can wrap head around it a little bit...but it is still in my imagination. Does that make it less real? Am I too straight to be queer? Am I too queer to be straight?

During the pandemic, what I really started thinking about was my gender identity. This is completely different than my sexuality, by the way. My gender is a felt sense, it's how I move through the world, how I hold my body, a bit how a think, how I perceive, that kind of thing. But coming out is extremely hard, and not just because you're not sure how people will receive you. Coming out for me was also a dark night of the soul. I went into some very dark places because I called to attention the constructs I had just assumed were true my whole life. That this is what it is to be woman, that my period makes me a woman, that I am sexy as a woman, the list goes on. It is an extremely uncomfortable experience to say, well hold on. Is that true? What is it about myself that makes me a woman? Can I find her in there? What else is there?

I wonder sometimes if the people who engage in trans-exclusionary radical feminism do so because when presented with the possibility to disentangle their own constructs and beliefs to clearly see themselves as an entity above and beyond what society has dictated they must be, it is too uncomfortable to bear. There is too much grief. Too much feeling unanchored and lost without the guideposts of what we've come to assume is reality.

Because I get it. When I started feeling into my body, feeling the sensations of gender and presentation, and started to notice that it often felt completely androgynous, I was terrified. You can't just...turn back around once you've felt that kind of thing. So, I went through a bit of a grieving period, and honestly I didn't feel good. I wasn't happy. I think I really put myself through it exploring all this stuff, presenting myself with questions, no longer taking myself at face value. I get why some people are maybe too afraid to go in and tear the whole thing down. Doesn't mean you have to be an asshole to other people though...

I think that things started to settle down in their own time. I often describe journeys like this like walking through a forest. The first time to set out to make your path, you run into branches, you get snags, you get smacked in the face, you trip, etc. But, the more you walk that same path, the more you become familiar, the more you clear away the sharp edges, the easier the walk becomes. So it takes time, and it takes going over that thought process quite a few times and then maintaining it after that.

I gradually put my pronouns up, slowly let my friends know, tested the waters. It didn't come super easily to me, it still doesn't. Some people refer to me as she/her/they/them, some people as she/her.

At this point, the reality for me is that I passed through a dark night of the soul, wondering if I would find myself in the darkness or if I had just driven myself off the deep end with all this searching and deconstructing. And, I did find myself. I did find peace. It did get better after going down into the depths.

I'm not the most assertive about my pronouns. I'm also not that bothered if people don't identify me as nonbinary as well as female, because I truly do experience them both. And honestly? I think right now, the coolest part is that I know myself better than I did. I also rode that journey with myself into the depths to find it, and have since found my way back to peace.

I would say to people who are straight, or don't quite know yet how to hold space for these other identities that are flourishing now, don't assume that we have any more answers than you do. Remember that we too were conditioned to believe what you do. We have just been asked to be brave enough to face it, question it, and find ourselves in that process. When 2SLGBTQAI+ community members say, it isn't my responsibility to educate you, and you think well how am I going to understand then? Remember that we did the soul searching within ourselves to find our answers. You can do the same. You can also find media that supports you in your exploration, workshops, gatherings, literature, etc.

And you know what else? It's not just queer folk who come out. Every time we seek to change our identity, form a new value, set a new anything that takes us closer to our heart and authentic selves? That is a form of coming out.

I came out as bi and genderfluid...and today? I really don't find myself as attracted to female presenting people as I do male presenting and androgynous presenting. That's okay. I am still bi.

I don't dress all that androgynously either. That's okay. I am a woman, and I am nonbinary. And, I can wear whatever the hell I want. It's all good.

There is no rule for what coming out is going to mean or look like.

Your experience might be smooth and comfortable, like you've been able to come out of a tight fitting pair of jeans. Maybe it'll feel uncomfortable and challenging like mine did. Whatever happens, it is powerful to look beyond the rules and challenge what reality can be. We are allowed to be free in ourselves. We can change, we can go back, we can go sideways, we can stay's all good. Even just by sitting with ourselves and exploring who we feel like inside can offer us a deep glimpse into that freedom.

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