I read the draft of the post a dozen times. I was sick of living a lie. Here I was—31, in a heterosexual marriage, and about to leap out of the closet on social media. The events of the day had pushed me over the edge.
Just do it, Caitlin. Come on. I continued to hesitate. Why couldn’t I commit? I looked at my daughter; two years old, brushing her hand with purple paint, intending to leave a handprint on the piece of paper in front of her. I was jealous of the freedom she possessed—blissfully unaware of the world around her—while simultaneously petrified for her future. How could I possibly encourage her to be herself while I was living an inauthentic life? I felt a lump form in my throat. I took a deep breath as my finger moved closer to the button.
The gray circle spun for what felt like hours on my iPhone screen. It finally stopped, and the post appeared. There it was—live and in color—in front of my eyes, and potentially thousands of other sets of eyes, too.
It was done. My cliché “coming out” post was floating around Facebook. I sensed a half-smile creep across my mouth as I reread the post once more.
I just noticed that I lost a few Facebook “friends” today. I’m guessing my posts regarding transgender bathroom rights were too gay/queer (or in my personal case of identity – pansexual), or my belief in human rights for everyone is too progressive for some to accept. I’d apologize for offending people, but I am so not sorry. Closets are for clothes, y’all. Enjoy this beautiful evening!
As the reactions began to stream in, I started to relax. It felt as though a million pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. In that moment, I didn’t care who read it. I was one hundred percent certain that if anyone rejected me due to my sexual identity, they would be someone who didn’t mean that much to me in the first place. I exhaled an audible sigh.
Yet, as I was watching my daughter continue to smear paint all over her extremities, one single person came to mind—Beth. Beth and I had been friends for less than a year, but in that short time we had created a special bond. We were in sync in many ways, and even though she lived three states away, she had become an irreplaceable person in my life.
While I had come out to select family and friends in prior months, I had never divulged my truth to Beth. I frantically sent her a text message apologizing to her for not disclosing sooner. I explained that I didn’t want her to see the post and be caught off guard. The read receipt instantly appeared below the message, but no response came. My heart began to race.
The next thirty minutes brought knots in my stomach unlike anything I’d felt before. This was it—I was facing my first rejection from my reactionary post. I was furious with myself for naïvely thinking this would go well. I’d been rejected before; I knew better.
Then a message appeared. “Sorry! I was putting the baby to bed. You be you, girlfriend. I still love you.” Hot tears rolled down my cheeks as relief washed over me. I was thankful for her acceptance, and I was proud of my courage. While it took only seconds to post those words, the waves were far-reaching. I hadn’t acknowledged the long-term impact until I feared I’d lost Beth. That is the reality of living this life—every coming out experience is a piece of a journey to discovering who you are, and who is willing to come on the journey with you.
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