So yesterday was National Coming Out Day, and like most things with my queerness I have an odd relationship with it. I’m nonbinary genderqueer, but I spent most of my 39 years on this earth deeply in the closet.

A good chunk of that time was because I honestly lacked the vocabulary for what I was. But even when I knew the words, I still kept it to myself. I never had a single “coming out” because of it. I first told my wife. Then I later told a few friends. Then years later I finally told my family… sort of.

A year before I came out to my family I ended up in a conversation about nonbinary identities, and my father did what he sometimes does when confronted with new ideas outside his experience – demand excessive citations to an occasionally emotionally exhausting level.

(It’s not that he’s unwilling to learn, but you kind of have to specifically, point by point walk him through it.)

He didn’t know that the conversation was a canary in a coal mine, and I literally put it away for a year and a half. It got to the point where I was tired of hiding something that big day to day though, and I knew I needed to tell my family before I was public about it.

So I told my mom.

Her response was “Do you want me to tell your Dad for you and instruct him not to ask any follow up questions or bug you about it?”

I said yes.

A few months later I quietly updated all of my social media and website bios to reflect it. While I prefer gender neutral pronouns, masculine ones don’t bother me at all so I never made a big deal about it. Frankly I’m pretty pronoun indifferent most days.

But I also didn’t make a big deal out of it because the imposter syndrome roots deeply into my bones. I spent so long in the closet I don’t know if I’ll ever fully feel comfortable claiming that I’m a part of the LGBTQ+ community – even though I am.

I’m 39.

I didn’t completely come out until I was 37.

And I wish I’d done it sooner.

(Also, back when I had a band we actually played a concert at UW-Eau Claire’s Coming Out Day event. That was 11 years ago. Wow. )

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