“Traditional marriage is an institution whose integrity and vitality are critical to the health of any society. We should remain faithful to our moral heritage and never hesitate to defend it.”
– Sen. Ted Cruz (whose newsletters I’m mysteriously subscribed to)
This will not be the best thing I have written.
I have been debating all month on whether to post something on the celebration that is happening tomorrow. I mean, everyone knows already, right? There are no more secrets to tell. It has been three years. I am out and about, living freely, sliding down rainbows and landing on pots of gold.
Except I’m not.
I am currently sitting at a coffee shop in Manhattan. I arrived just about an hour ago from Boston to attend an event. I am meeting up with “my NYU friend,” as I poorly describe her to everyone, later tonight for some hookah. She is queer. Sometimes I think that’s the only reason we are friends.
We understand each other. She gets it. Sometimes, I do, too.
There is a 16 oz. coffee to my right hand, my iPhone 4S is charging from my laptop, and I can’t stop glancing over at my left wrist. I made a decision this morning. I have made the same decision about five times in the last 10 months, and it’s to wear this stupid rainbow bracelet my friend bought me at H&M.
It’s actually not stupid; I’ve taken care of it and made sure I don’t misplace it since I got it. It’s just the right word to use to describe this situation and how big of a deal it is for me to wear it publicly.
I mean, everyone knows already, right? There are no more secrets to tell. It has been three years.
I am in one of the most liberal cities of the world. I should be safe here. I should feel okay wearing it. People around here are used to this kind of stuff. They accept it, or at least tolerate it. It’s okay here, dammit. I’m okay here.
Except I’m not.
Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day. My best friend and I came out on October 11, 2011 during a regular day in high school. We wore shirts that announced this for us. His said, “My best friend is lesbian and I still love her,” in pink. Mine was the same, except it said “gay,” “him,” and it was in blue.
We didn’t know it was National Coming Out Day. This is still the biggest fucking coincidence of my life.
It was awesome. It was terrifying. It was thrilling. I should have hid the shirt after the day was over. My mom found it in my closet (oh, the irony!) weeks later. It led to an argument in which I came out to her.
“Pues si. Soy gay. Y que?”
Talk about a tactless, teenage asshole. But it happened. And that’s what’s important.
Y que? Y que? So what? So I was defying years worth of her expectations of me. I was going against decades of what my extended family had worked so hard to call morals and values and the path to “move up” in society. I would be the one to marry a gringo and have beautiful blue-eyed children and a dog or two.
This is my shitty problem. Most of my family still pictures my future like this. To be clear, everyone minus my mother and sister believe this. No, my dad does not know. Or my grandmothers. Or my aunts. Or my cousins. Or X, Y, and Z relative. No one. My great grandmother, whom I loved and miss so dearly, died without knowing. Would she have cared? Would she have been worried? I wish I knew what happened after death. Maybe then I’d know how to connect with her again. It’s a lot easier to come out to someone’s spirit than someone’s face.
“Estoy tan orgulloso de ti. Eres una hija ejemplar. Sigue adelante. Persigue tus suenos.”
To this, I always smile sweetly and say something that reassures the person complementing me that I will do as they say. I will do as they say. But I won’t do as they say. I am already disobeying them before they even tell me this. Why does disobedience taste to good? Why does she look so good? My disobedience wears lipstick and high heels. She’s the only thing that makes me feel something, that’s ever made me feel something.
It’s in my chest. It’s in my throat. It’s gripping my stomach and leaves me speechless. Speechless, but not thoughtless. Which one do I try to transform into words? How do I let them know?
Not everyone knows. There are so many more secrets to tell. It has been three years. Three beautiful, unplanned years.
Three years means 1,095 days. Twenty-six thousand hours. One million five hundred thousand minutes. About 15 percent of my life. Next year, at the 4th year anniversary, this will take up 19 percent of my life. At some point, it will be more than 50 percent. At some point, I will have spent more time living as an openly gay woman than not. At some point. But today it only takes up 15 percent and I am still scared.
Scared, but not paralyzed.
One thousand and ninety-five days ago, I had never even touched a woman. Two thousand and one hundred and ninety days ago, I swore I wanted to marry the young boy at church. A lot has changed.
I think about fourteen year old Dani, fresh into high school, dating boys. Liking boys. One of them even cordially invited me into his backseat after we saw some movie about Nelson Mandela.
“We don’t have to go all the way…”
I pretended my mom had arrived to pick me up. He left. That’s not the only backseat story I have.
Twelve years old and in middle school. Someone came out today as bisexual. It was the rumor for months. It was later “confirmed.” I looked up what bisexual meant.
Eight year old Dani. Third grade. Crushing on some cute classmate. I don’t remember her name. (I’m lying. I know her name, but I shouldn’t mention it.) Wanting to dress like a boy and play with boys’ toys and do boyish things. I really wanted you to call me Dani, not Daniella.
But now there’s twenty year old Dani sitting in New York City. There is a 16 oz. coffee to her right hand, her iPhone 4S is charging from her laptop, and she can’t stop glancing over at her left wrist. She made a decision this morning.
Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day. It has been three years. It feels like everyone knows, except that they don’t. I live comfortably in the belief that there are no more secrets to share, except that there are. Will this be my coming out post to the rest of the family? I don’t know. Will this be the year? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’m tired of coming out to people. But it took so long to have the privilege of being tired about it.
“Pues si. Soy gay. Y que?”