Coming Out… Again and Again

I came out in my teen years. Decades later, I am coming out again as a special needs parent.

As the world celebrates Pride Month and the importance of inclusion, love and tolerance, I am thankful for living in a part of the world that is, for the most part, progressive and inclusive.

I came out at 14. I remember how nervous I was and how it took me three weeks to work up the nerve to tell the first person I came out to.

I was very fortunate to have received mostly supportive responses. When I didn’t, I am glad I had the wisdom to walk away.

When I told the pastor of the church that I was attending that I was gay, she suggested that I go see a psychologist.

I was 16 and didn’t have the boldness to tell her how angry and hurt her reaction made me feel. I stopped going to church and knew that organized religion was not for me. Today, I don’t need a church to feel a connection to God.

Both the positives and negatives of the coming out experience shaped my formative teen years and influenced how I perceive, respond and adapt to challenging situations as an adult.

I see parallels between my own coming out with now coming out as a special needs parent.

T attending his first Pride at 1 year old, only a few weeks after he came into our lives.

In the early days, I worried a lot about how others would react.

Not because I felt ashamed, but because I did not want a four letter prognosis, FASD, to become a negative label or stigma for our T and to affect how others treat him.

But like my own coming out, it became easier with every step – and I quickly found support in family, friends, colleagues and professionals.

When I came out in my teens, the Internet was new. I am fortunate that today there are so many online resources and communities to help the hubby and I navigate this journey.

Perhaps the most important lesson that I learned from my own coming out was the importance of advocacy.

The hubby and I have embraced this ethos for T and are very grateful to have met so many allies through the school system and the medical and social services communities.

The irony, though, is that while many people know about T’s prognosis, he has yet to know about his condition.

Pride 2019, the last time we were able to celebrate in person with others.

I think a lot about how the hubby and I will have this conversation with him one day.

He is now 6 and we want to wait until he is a little older for two reasons: a) he is still young and b) he doesn’t have a diagnosis yet and is doing well so far with the supports we have in place.

I don’t quite know the words that I will use but I know that I will take a direct but compassionate approach.

I will make it clear that this was nothing that he did or was responsible for.

But the most important message that he needs to hear and to understand is that he is perfect the way he is.

There is nothing wrong with him, nothing to be ashamed of and whatever challenges he is facing because of his medical condition, we will continue to support and work together with him to face and to overcome them.

I can’t control how he will react. I sometimes worry about how this knowledge of his condition will shape his self concept.

But I do genuinely feel hopeful. Despite ongoing challenges and regular struggles, T continues to surprise us all with his awesomeness.

And like the rainbow that has been embraced as a symbol for LGBTQ2S+ inclusion, I feel hopeful there will always be something wonderful at the end of every stormy moment.

This feels like a lifetime ago but it was only last year when we drew a rainbow on our window to spread love and cheer during the pandemic.

15 thoughts on “Coming Out… Again and Again

  1. I’m sure the right words will come to you and it sounds like you’ve already given a lot of thought about what approach to take when telling T about his condition. It’ll be a tough conversation, but it’s good that you’re willing to have it, even if it’s just to reinforce that T has nothing to be ashamed of and that he is loved for who he is. It sounds like he has a strong support system and a lot of people in his corner. P.S. I love that picture of T during his first Pride!

    1. Thank you, L! It will be a hard conversation but I am hopeful it will go well. We have always had an honest approach with him. Fingers crossed!

      And yes, we love that Pride photo and memory. Not sure if you ever got to enjoy a Toronto Pride in your time in the City but something to come back to and enjoy one day, hopefully next year, if not!

  2. God put the three of you together for a reason and reading this post says it all! T is a lucky boy to have been found by you two! Enjoy celebrating Pride Month!

    1. Thank you, Diane. I do believe we were placed together for a reason and by God. 😊 We are very blessed to have him.

      Happy first day of summer and enjoy your upcoming week!

  3. Celebrating with you Pride Month. Thank you for sharing your story and bravery. People can be so cruel , unaccepting, prejudice, ignorant , carelessly judgemental. We are all humans. We are all God’s creation. Color, Sex, Culture, Beliefs, Social Status should all be equal. Our children needs to see and experience a kinder world as compared to ours. And it begins with parents educating and changing themselves first. It begins with our Society changing and educating each other the truth of the past that needs to be corrected. Discrimination and Racism is a disease that needs to be eradicated. It’s a long battle but it’s a fight that needs to be fought until genuine change happens to all and everyone. Keep inspiring our world my friend. We need it. 🙏

    1. Thank you. 😊💕 I agree with your comments. I believe that regardless of one’s beliefs, all paths lead to God (or whatever one calls their God). My biggest issue with organized religion is that it can be very divisive but on an individual level, I believe that those who live their lives with faith contribute a lot of positivity into the world. Anyway, my thoughts on religion is another post all on its own. 🤣

      I hope you are doing well and hope you are enjoying your Fathers Day with your family! 👍🤞🏻

    1. Thank you, LaDonna, as always for your kind words. 😊 One of the joys of getting older is seeing more about how the different dots in life connect to one another and realizing there’s more than one way to live your life/connect the dots!

      Hope you are doing well! 💕

  4. Sounds like you are handling this the right way. At some point he will become aware that he is “different” and that’s when the knowledge that he has a condition will provide the explanation and it will likely be a relief to know there’s a reason for it.

    1. Thank you, Juliette. He is thankfully not overly conscious of it now. We do explain to him that his medication helps his brain focus and that’s the extent of how we’ve made him aware of potential differences. It really is, as you know, such a spectrum and an invisible disability.

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