Coming Out in the Outer Banks: A Sisters Story
As I’ve said before, coming out is a process and it is a journey, not a destination.
Many have experienced a rocky road while making that journey, for some others this journey is a smooth one. But no matter what your experience, personally accepting your homosexuality and disclosing it to family, co-workers and friends was no doubt a stressful time in life. But the love and support of your family can be so important to help smooth that journey.
Coming out is a singular experience for every gay or bisexual person and their families.
We OBXers are an accepting lot and this next poster is an 'Banker' in every way and will tell about her coming out experience from a very different point of view.
I would like to introduce you to Jeanne. Jeannie is one of the Village People and a fellow Outer Banks blogger, she also is the IT manager for a local property management and rental company located here on the Outer Banks, Village Realty. The owner of Village Realty is one of the most open minded and fair people that you could want to meet, but Jeanne has more reasons for being gay friendly then just it being the policy of her employer, for her being gay friendly is a family matter. But let me shut up here and let Jeannie tell her story. [It's after the jump.]
You never know; don’t think you do. And, love is love.
My sister and I are 22 months apart in age; I am the oldest. We were very close when we were little, still are, although she lives in New Mexico I live on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
We both did the usual things as kids and then as teenagers; dating, boys, parties. Then on to serious relationships. I got married when I was 19 and had my first child at 20. My sister dated, worked, and then settled down and got married too. For a while, my sister and her husband even lived in the same apartment complex as I did and we grew even closer. Then, my (then) husband and I moved to the Outer Banks; that was over thirty years ago.
My second daughter and her only child, also a girl, were born five days apart. She was still in Norfolk , doing OK I thought. Happy, husband, child, career, etc.
Then, shock, she left her husband. OK, that happens, I understand. Our family was supportive of her and tried to help as much as we could. She moved to the Outer Banks then and that was wonderful. Started a serious relationship with another man and that lasted for several years. Had another serious relationship with another local man for several more years, then that ended too.
All this time, I thought I knew my sister. I mean, we lived in the same town, we spoke all the time. I watched her daughter during the day and we did things together with the kids. My mother and step father also lived here and we all did things together, typical family stuff.
Then, it happened. My sister broke up with the man she was seeing, who we all liked, and told us she has something to talk to us about. She was gay. Always had been. Shock. Disbelief. And yes, anger. Anger that she had not told us before now and anger at what we feared this would do to her and to our family.
This was twenty five plus years ago and things were different then, keep that in mind. My family is made up of pretty much liberal Democrats and Independents. We are accepting, tolerant and charitable and fairly sophisticated. But when this happened we were all thrown for a loop, at least for a while. I am sure I was not as supportive or accepting as I could have been or should have been at that time. I was reeling. This is a small town after all, everyone would find out my sister was gay. How embarrassing. What could I do? I tried to tell her she was not gay (that seems so ridiculous to me now), I told her she was just trying to get attention, and so on.
How hard and scary that must have been for her. We did not meet anyone she was dating for a long time and although we loved her, and always will, we were still confused and disappointed and still angry with her. She moved back to Norfolk and started her new life. Life is what happens while you are making other plans so everyone focused on family, work, and home. Things settled down. We realized that it was still the same person with the same kind nature, giving spirit and determination. It was us who needed to change, not her. People, as a rule, do not like change and this was a whopper.
When I met my sister’s lover I liked her instantly. She was funny and smart and kind. They lived in a nice apartment, both had jobs, nice friends and a good life. My sister went back to school and got her degree. We talked on the phone and visited often. My parents were accepting. If you are parent then you know love is unconditional. No matter what your children do, you will always love them.
Did this impact my family; my sister being gay? Well, of course it did. Anything significant that happens to one family member impacts the rest of the family. Did it bring shame and disgrace to my family? NO. Do I think my sister is brave? YES. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to live in fear of saying who and what you are. Many people are not tolerant and some are outright hostile towards anything or anyone who does not agree with their views of how things should be. I admire and love my sister for who she is. Her personal life is her own business, not mine.
Does my sister lead a perfect life full of rainbows and sunshine? Of course not, who does? Gay people, gay couples, have the same everyday issues and problems to deal with just the same as straight people. People do not wake up one day and decide to be gay; that is not the way it works. I am sure there are many people who are still too afraid to “come out” and tell their family or friends they are gay, and that is sad but understandable. Society as a whole seems a little more accepting but we are a far way from where we need to be on this issue, in my straight, southern woman’s opinion. Gay people are everywhere and have every right to be. My advice to someone who is a homophobic gay hater; get over yourself. You never know who is gay. It might be the paramedic who saves your life or the teacher who helps your child excel. Who are you, or anyone, to judge? And yes, God does love gay people. Just as much.
Do not condemn what you do not understand. You risk hurting people who love you and you risk hurting yourself in the process.
My sister is now a very successful minister in Albuquerque , New Mexico . We talk often and she plans on visiting me soon. We will laugh and gossip and eat and talk, talk, talk just like we did before. I love her. I am proud of her. And I am proud of what she has accomplished. I am also proud of my family because although it was rough and hard and scary at first, we came through it and through all of it, we never stopped loving her. I am grateful to her for being tolerant of us.
And, I am grateful to you for reading my post.
Peace and love from the Outer Banks
Thank you so much for sharing that very personal story Jeannie… I'm proud to call you my friend.
(cross posted from the Queen of the Surf Pirates)