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LGBT Later in Life A support and discussion forum for older members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender etc.

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Old 12th Jan 2017, 02:29 AM   #1
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Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

I wanted to share some thoughts I've been having lately and also hear your own thoughts about where you are in terms of your journeys.

Coming out has had such an enormous impact on me. Obviously my life is changing, I'm separating from my soon to be ex; but beyond that it has shaped and defined so much of who I am. I know being gay is just one part of who I am, but my journey in coming out, in coming to acceptances and finally fighting for my truth has made me a different person.

On one hand this journey has helped me shed all the extraneous layers I have put on for so many years to hide who I am (my sexuality, my gender, even my personal tastes, and convictions). But on the other hand it has made me more confident, more certain of my self worth, more willing to fight for my professional goals. It has deepened my appreciation for my family but also has helped me build a new family in my city abroad, far from home. I have learned to be more vulnerable and build deeper relationships with others. I have more honest. And an even stronger advocate for social justice, not just on LGBTQ mattes.

Now I'm in a place in my journey where I feel ready and eager to live my new life, move forward. But of course I have the separation to finalise, and I find it leaves me in this kind of weird place in terms of the stages of coming out. I'll have to find a link to give the full details on this, but I'll put the short version of the stages below; I believe I'm right in the middle between the last 2 stages, acceptance and celebration/pride. I feel a lot of both, but I'm not really able to celebrate fully until I close the chapter on my marriage. But, even though I'm personally at those levels of acceptance/celebration/pride, my circumstances leave me in the 5th stage, suppression of self. I'm out in every circumstance I can be because I need to be out, I can't be in the closet anymore. But I'm deeply closeted in certain contexts out of respect for my ex husband and daughter until we finish the separation.

It's a really uncomfortable place to be in, to shift from acceptance/pride to suppression. There's this whole part of my life I'm not showing, and this person I want to freely be, and I have to lock that side of me up just a little longer....it's suffocating.


What are your thoughts on your own journeys? Where are you in terms of the progress you want to make?

(I'll share the short version of the stages in a second, and find a link shortly after for the more detailed version)

---------- Post added 12th Jan 2017 at 01:35 AM ----------

Short version of stages:


1. Unconscious of sexual identity– I don’t know I’m gay, straight or anything. I’m just a kid.

2. Awareness awakens – I’m different to the guys or girls around me. I’m thinking about and finding myself attracted to the same sex. Could I be gay?

3. Denial of the gay self.

4. Rejection of the gay self is the next phase. This can be like denial but we actively try and rid ourselves of this ‘terrible curse’ or ‘problem’.

5. Suppression of the gay self.

6. Hatred of the gay self .

7. Acceptance of gay self.

8. Celebration of the gay self means I actually love being gay; all negative connotations of guilt and shame have been removed.

---------- Post added 12th Jan 2017 at 01:46 AM ----------

Link:
8 Stages of coming out
[/INDENT]
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 03:02 AM   #2
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

(Obviously I'm interested in applying these stages to all identities (even though the list saysgay, replace that with LGBTQ, and for it around your identity)

---------- Post added 12th Jan 2017 at 02:03 AM ----------

*fit it around
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 04:59 AM   #3
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

Excellent share BaristaJedi, thank you
It is wonderful that you can switch to an analytical mode and look at it from that perspective

I think I have spent most of my 20's in stages 4 and 5. My teen years were definitely stage 3. Early thirties up until now been back and forth between 6 and 7.

Maybe this year I can stop going back to 6 and next one I can get to stage 8
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 07:57 AM   #4
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

I remember being very young around 7-8 and "fancying" other girls, but I wasn't "gay" I didn't know what gay was but I recognized that I was thinking "can girls like other girls?" And that scared me to think I could be that way, because I thought I was the only one in the world that felt that way.

2 happened around 11..that was the first time I had a full blown crush, but something in me said "ohh well you're too normal to be gay" so I kind of brushed it off

3-6 all happened around the same time 13-14. At 13 I very well realized that it was something that was always in me and that it wasn't going away, it was something I had to face. Then I got the idea to ask lesbians on the internet if they thought I was a lesbian.. They said yes..and I kind of flipped out and ultimately chose not to label myself because it was the only way I could stand myself. I started 7 at age 14 and I'd say that I've fulfilled it..and I might be to 8 now. I'm currently 19
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 08:19 AM   #5
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

We'll start in terms of my sexuality, a bisexual with a preferance for women. I have terrible memory when it comes to elementry school and middle school so I'm not sure exactly where I was and when, but early highschool was 4-6. Dating boys and focusing on them. I reached 7 and 8 around later highschool, and I've been holding strong there since.

In terms of my gender identity, I'd say I hit 2 around mid-late highschool. asking my gf if she'd love me if I was a boy, etc. then college was 3-5. I found a boyfriend [now fiance] and while I told him I felt like I wasn't a girl, I'd pulled back and called myself genderqueer or just uncertain. Whenever I wasn't busy hating myself, I would wear makeup and skirts even though it felt wrong, and I tried to grow my hair out. The past year/ Year and a half I've gone from 7 to 6, but I've avoided 5, recognizing suppression just makes me feel worse.
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Old 12th Jan 2017, 09:39 AM   #6
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

to make it easier to read without scrolling up and down,
1. Unconscious of gay/trans self
2. Awareness awakens
3. Denial of the gay/trans self
4. Rejection of the gay/trans self
5. Suppression of the gay/trans self
6. Hatred of the gay/trans self.
7. Acceptance of gay/trans self
8. Celebration of gay/trans self
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Old 14th Jan 2017, 08:08 PM   #7
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmEmbrace View Post
Excellent share BaristaJedi, thank you
It is wonderful that you can switch to an analytical mode and look at it from that perspective

I think I have spent most of my 20's in stages 4 and 5. My teen years were definitely stage 3. Early thirties up until now been back and forth between 6 and 7.

Maybe this year I can stop going back to 6 and next one I can get to stage 8
Warmembrace, I feel you moving towards 8, you're in a great path

I hope you can kick stage 6 straight to the curb.

---------- Post added 14th Jan 2017 at 07:10 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by AuroraBorealis View Post
I remember being very young around 7-8 and "fancying" other girls, but I wasn't "gay" I didn't know what gay was but I recognized that I was thinking "can girls like other girls?" And that scared me to think I could be that way, because I thought I was the only one in the world that felt that way.

2 happened around 11..that was the first time I had a full blown crush, but something in me said "ohh well you're too normal to be gay" so I kind of brushed it off

3-6 all happened around the same time 13-14. At 13 I very well realized that it was something that was always in me and that it wasn't going away, it was something I had to face. Then I got the idea to ask lesbians on the internet if they thought I was a lesbian.. They said yes..and I kind of flipped out and ultimately chose not to label myself because it was the only way I could stand myself. I started 7 at age 14 and I'd say that I've fulfilled it..and I might be to 8 now. I'm currently 19

I find it so refreshing to see that you've reached such a good place and you're still quite young. You've got your whole life ahead of you, and you are the real you, that's amazing.

---------- Post added 14th Jan 2017 at 07:15 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by SiKiHe View Post
We'll start in terms of my sexuality, a bisexual with a preferance for women. I have terrible memory when it comes to elementry school and middle school so I'm not sure exactly where I was and when, but early highschool was 4-6. Dating boys and focusing on them. I reached 7 and 8 around later highschool, and I've been holding strong there since.

In terms of my gender identity, I'd say I hit 2 around mid-late highschool. asking my gf if she'd love me if I was a boy, etc. then college was 3-5. I found a boyfriend [now fiance] and while I told him I felt like I wasn't a girl, I'd pulled back and called myself genderqueer or just uncertain. Whenever I wasn't busy hating myself, I would wear makeup and skirts even though it felt wrong, and I tried to grow my hair out. The past year/ Year and a half I've gone from 7 to 6, but I've avoided 5, recognizing suppression just makes me feel worse.

I like that you broke down gender and sexuality separately.

For my gender... I don't remember ever being in stage 1, stage 2 started for me by 3 years old. I was in stages 4-6 in my pre teen and teenage years, back to stage 2 in my early and mid twenties, 4-5 from 26 until the last few years (35 maybe?), and finally I'm in stage 7. But for me there's still a lot of questions around my gender, yet I'm feeling more open and confident about expressing that there are at least question marks around it.
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Old 15th Jan 2017, 11:24 AM   #8
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

I was mostly in stage one until about 15 and in stage 3 till 17. I never had stage 4 because most modern discourse says you can't be cured - it was simply more of a case of whether I beleived in my attractions to girls or not. Several times I've thought I was in stage 8 but I'm probably still in stage 6... I definitely haven't fully accepted it but "hatred" is a bit strong. It just sort of annoys me sometimes and I get sad. I feel half-way between being a ridiculous stereotype and being sorta unsuited to being gay. I suppose like stage 4 I do feel a little cursed but only in that I thought I was into guys at least in a bi way for a while and I feel cheated by how awful actually doing stuff with guys feels and my lack of emotion for them.

I also feel a bit hopeless in finding someone. I felt I was in a similar situation when I identified as straight because I was always unpopular but I seem to have got to that point in life where guys, including nice and attractive ones, are interested and I have to turn them down because it just makes me feel so limp or repulsed, meanwhile I don't know how to find girls, the queer girls I know are chronically unattracted to me (which seems backwards since I give off butch vibes that should scare off men and attract women surely) and I am now an adult virgin, which for my generation in the UK at least is already starting to be sorta pathetic and definitely makes me even more nervous about how to proceed. Not only a virgin, in fact, someone with no relationship experience, not even a cute "middle school" (early secondary school for us) token boyfriend - which makes everything seem a bit overwhelming at this age where people are expecting me to have some basic confidence, expereince etc in this department. I suppose this level of angst at just 18 when I have so much life ahead is probably a bit laughable to most of the lat-in-lifers, but its not like I'm anxious about being alone forever, I know that would be stupid at this age, just more that I will be a 20 year old virgin who doesn't understand relationships and then I'll really just start coming off as weird.
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Old 15th Jan 2017, 12:10 PM   #9
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Re: Reflections on identity, our journeys, and the stages of coming out

1. Unconscious of sexual identity– I don’t know I’m gay, straight or anything. I’m just a kid.
2. Awareness awakens – I’m different to the guys or girls around me. I’m thinking about and finding myself attracted to the same sex. Could I be gay?
3. Denial of the gay self.
4. Rejection of the gay self is the next phase. This can be like denial but we actively try and rid ourselves of this ‘terrible curse’ or ‘problem’.
5. Suppression of the gay self.
6. Hatred of the gay self .
7. Acceptance of gay self.
8. Celebration of the gay self means I actually love being gay; all negative connotations of guilt and shame have been removed.

I went backwards on the stages. I was in stage 7/8 until age 14. I knew I only liked girls, my friends explained that meant I was gay, and I was completely fine with it all. Then mom I guess finally realized how I was, and so started the 'conversion therapy'.

That is when I no longer was the confident, outgoing person I was and went through stage 5 then 6 then 4 then settled in 3 until now.

Now, I live in 7, 5 and 3 altogether. I accept I am lesbian, I suppress it, and in denial to most people/family. I don't know if I will ever get rid of stage 3 with my parents and brother.
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