QUEER-OWNED AND PROUD: A COMING OUT STORY
I came out to my parents during Christmas break of my Junior year of college (Sorry to ruin your B-day Baby Jesus!). I was terrified. I was unsure of how it would go. I was already in the stages of being 100% out at school and was ready to be 100% my authentic self with my parents, siblings and extended family. This conversation was wildly difficult, it was 1999 and I grew up in rural Eastern Oregon. My parents were devastated, scared, confused and they swear VERY VERY SURPRISED! (girl come on!!) My coming out process with my parents took years. It was like an onion--layers were shed and with each stage we got more and more to the center of it, to the core. I vowed to remain 100% me and as present as I could in their lives---visiting home often, inviting them to my life functions and meeting them where they were at each step---but always asking for more---to be seen more, respected more, for more dialogue and to be allowed to heal more.
My parents met several men I have dated (only the good ones, I kept the really messy ones in private!) and they fell in love with my chosen family. They love the queer members of my staff in a very special way. They have trusted me and pushed themselves in ways I never expected. They expanded their minds---and this process took years. I don't want to candy coat things---at times this was very painful. I remember the first time my mom asked me if I thought our mutual gay friend was a top or a bottom! I lost my mind, and she smiled a big grin---very happy to have shocked me for once!
When my mom passed during the pandemic, I felt a serene closure knowing that she and I had left our hearts on the table in regards to me coming out. That we had been honest and made headway. That she accepted me, and more importantly accepted herself, and had let go of the shame or guilt that she had held onto unnecessarily. Since her passing, my relationship with my dad has become stronger than ever--his mind and heart were broken in this process--but watching him continue to evolve and meet me where I am is something I can only assume my mom is cheering on from a cloud in heaven.
Coming out looks different for everyone. Family looks unique for all of us. I wanted to share a bit about my coming out story to thank you for being part of my journey, my process. When you are from where I am from you never think you are going to be an out gay business owner with followers and fans from across the globe! Many people might think, why does you being gay matter? It's just shoes! VISIBILITY MATTERS! It matters for me! It matters for tomorrow! Now I understand that my queerness is a very powerful part of me, of my process and my life in both private and work sectors. I remain very proud---but not reticent. I remain full of pride--but not ready to rest. PRIDE is a protest--then, now and tomorrow. I thank you from the bottom of my little gay heart for being part of my process and of my gay agenda!
I want to thank my queer support network for always showing up for me, for talking me through my global romances, my business woes, my hurt feelings and my wild dreams! I love my gays!
Founder, Creative Director, Homosexual, Shoe Lover, Friend, Uncle, Coffee Addict, Human