Coming Out of the Closet(S)!

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So many closets, so little time. Well, ok, only two closets, however, I’ve had to come out of them again and again.
When you hear that someone “came out of the closet” you may think, “Good for them, it’s a big step and now they don’t have to worry about it anymore.” What people may not realize is that once you come out – that’s just the FIRST time. Essentially you have to come out every time you meet someone new or run into an old friend or family member who perhaps wasn’t around when you made the big announcement. (That’s how everyone comes out by the way – big loudspeaker type pronouncement over the radio or in a stadium.)

Every time you tell someone new, you run the same risk you did the first time. Will they react positively or with criticism? Will your relationship with them change after this conversation?

When I came out the first time it was at the age of 17 and I came out to my friends as bisexual. (FYI – this is still how I identify – I know – SHOCKER – it wasn’t just a phase…..) I am proud to say I have wonderful friends who totally accepted me and had no issue. I got involved with my LGBT group on my college campus and dated the only other bisexual girl in the group because the lesbians wanted nothing to do with us. (That’s a topic for another day) Fortunately she was just my type and we had a nice time together. It was, however, a short romance and pretty soon after we broke up I started dating the man I would eventually marry.

Fast forward 15 years, marriage, two kids and one divorce later. Time to get back out into the dating pool. I cast out my net to any and all on the typical dating sites. Met a few great people – not great matches however. Then I met a woman – an amazing woman. We dated for a couple years with some bumps in the road. However, it was a serious relationship and I felt that it was time to come out to my parents. Until this point I was “relatively out” – meaning I was out to everyone except my relatives!

So there I was, in my 30’s, coming out to my parents. Thankfully they are both totally supportive. My dad thought perhaps it was a post-divorce phase until I explained that she was not my first female partner.

So then there was the kink/BDSM closet that I had newly discovered as I was going thru my divorce. For many people kink is something they do in the bedroom and they never feel the need to “come out” about it. However, for me it wasn’t only my lifestyle, it was also my job. Only a couple years into the scene I worked as a pro-sub and then a pro-Switch. I eventually felt the pressure to open up to my mom because she kept asking so many questions about my new job in “customer service”. Nice cover, right? Fortunately it coincided with the 50 Shades trilogy and my mom happened to be reading the first one. I used that to come out to her. Her biggest concern was my safety and my happiness. I assured her that I was both safe and happy. She was supportive. She has even attended one of my classes to try and gain more of an understanding – which I thought was super awesome of her!

Shortly thereafter I told my dad and he was accepting as well. All of my friends know and I’m not shy talking about it with new friends I meet. I am a bit more cautious with friends connected to my kids. However, if you read my article titled The Outsider, you will see I didn’t have much to worry about.

I know that many people don’t feel they can come out about their orientation, their BDSM lifestyle, or perhaps both. They may fear family shame, ridicule, or job loss. As for me I feel extremely fortunate to be able to live my life openly.
I am at the point now in my life (perhaps some of it just comes with age) where I figure if you don’t accept me (and all that I am) then I don’t need you in my life. If you want to know more, however, just ask and I will answer any question you have!
I come out of two closets again and again….and I’m proud of both!

Jennifer Masri is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in Alternative Lifestyles for individual and relationship issues. She also teaches the BDSM 101 class series at Sanctuary LAX in Los Angeles every Monday evening. Read more about Jennifer on her blog, A Kink Shrink.

Comments

  1. I remember coming out on some levels to friends. I realized when i was in a three way relationship that was also bdsm-centric-this offered multiple closets to jump out of lol. I didn’t really think it through before mentioning it to family. i kind of left the bdsm part out of it because does my mom really need to know that? maybe some families are more close knit but that part was on a need to know basis for me.

  2. Well and the coming out process – as well as who you choose to come out to – is a very personal thing. For me coming out to my family in regards to BDSM was because I work in the scene. If I tried to use a “cover” too long I felt like I was lying and honestly it was too much work. lol But my decision was also greatly influenced by the fact that my parents are very supportive and open minded.
    This article doesn’t even include coming out as poly, however, when I’ve had an additional partner I have treated it as “just the way it is” – as if it’s how everyone does it – and haven’t had much push back. Maybe it’s because they know my sexual orientation so they aren’t shocked when I have one male and one female partner.
    Like I said, every situation is personal and different. There is no one or right way to come out – or not come out. I simply wanted to share a little of my story as well as explain to others that once you come out it’s ongoing – which I don’t think most people think about. 🙂

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