By: Samantha Watson
I’m coming out, again. I’ve come out as a queer woman, as a Coach, and as an improviser (many times) in my life. And with this article, I’m claiming a specialty of coaching queer women on relationships, identity, and coming out. And as I come out this time, I’ve got 5 tips for queer women to bring joy and ownership to your coming out process.
Recently, I stumbled across the inspiring visual story of Keala Settle’s “coming out” as she steps out from behind a music stand and into a more powerful version of herself, singing the anthem for “Greatest Showman”. Keala’s story in the video, holds important lessons on how to enjoy and be transformed by walking the warriors path of the coming out process:
- Lean into the process and let it change you: In the video, Keala timidly sings from behind her music stand, and as you watch transformation occurs (minute 1:40 on). The whole of the choir is trepid and timid in the beginning, but they persist. She lets the words inspire who she chooses to be. She steps out slowly, but she keeps going. Keala could have stayed timid, and she and the choir would have sung a beautiful song. However, Keala and the choir show to let process transform them and unleash their power and joy. For many women, when you discover or admit to yourself that you love women, fear takes the reins. You have your life and identity figured out. You don’t want to change. But that is where the joy is. Let your coming out process change who you are and how you show up in the world. Let it make you more bold, not just in claiming your sexuality, but at work, in leadership, in family. Take joy in your queerness (or whatever you are coming out as) and difference, and let it grow and empower both the joy in you and your essence. What is the “music stand” you need to step out from behind? What is the process transforming you into?
- Delight in your contribution to others-Be a role model for what coming out and owning your essence can look like for others. When you shine, you invite others and grant permission for their light to shine: Keala’s tepidness inspired tepidness, but when she transformed, the entire room literally stood and danced into transformation and power with her. They sang louder, shined brighter. When we give ourselves permission to be who we are, we give that same permission to others. Without the pioneers at Stonewall, we might not have marriage equality. And there is some young (or even old) person who sees you and can be inspired to fear or courage by what you do. Yes, some people are scared of your brilliance, but more are empowered by it. What is the light you are inviting in others?
- Embrace ambiguity- Labels aren’t needed, unless you want them: Keala, throughout the whole video, doesn’t label herself or her experience. She just leans into the process and lets it unfold. You don’t have to know if you are queer, lesbian, bisexual, or the like to start showing your true self and living from an “out” place. Sometimes, within the queer community, we push each other to define ourselves. Ignore those pressures, into the process and experiment with different ways of being and labels. Own your own story, it’s yours to tell. What is the story you want to tell with your life? Where does ambiguity support that story? Where doesn’t it?
- Relish the Journey- Coming out is not a one and done: Keala will have new jobs, new songs, new things that will take her back to a place of fear, impulses to hide, etc. Yes, she owned this song and stepped out from behind the music stand, but there will be other music stands. You may have not have come out even to yourself, or you may be out to everyone in the world. New versions of coming out will arise. When you become a parent, and get questions for your own child or their friends. When you interview for or take on a new job, and no one knows your story, so you can choose how to share it. Or in this instance, as I am, when you go from being out as a queer woman, to making a significant part of your work about being queer. You may be 50 and think there are no more ways life will bring you to come out, and then boom. It’s a journey, a warriors’ path. How can you rejoice with each new expression and revelation of your identity? This is where the fun is.
- Enroll and ask for help from your tribe- Coming out requires that you support yourself with support and ask for help. Keala’s story would have been very different had she stayed at home practicing and practicing, never coming out, till it was perfect and she knew how to be powerful with the song. Her transformation came when she was surrounded by people. She called forth the power in other singers with a wave of her hand and by letting the music take her body into dance. She reached out for Hugh’s hand when she was scared and needed support. Do not do this process alone. Let people love and celebrate you. Find safe people, whether it be an online community, a support group, a coach, or good friends. Build a community of people ready to lead transformation, witness your coming out, and hold you when you get scared. Empowerment and ownership of your beautiful are a warrior’s path, surround yourself with the support you need. Who is in your tribe? What do you need from them?
A note about safety: This article focuses on the joys of coming out, but especially if you are dependent on people (parents, husband, etc.) or underage, be safe. There are many articles that discuss the challenges of coming out, and they have important messages to take in as well.
A coach can help you navigate this beautiful warrior’s path. I’m a certified coach that helps queer women in their 30s fall madly in love with themselves and build a supportive queer community so that they can attract and keep the love of their lives and be in a conscious healthy relationship.
I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Samantha Watson, CPCC, ACC is certified Co-Active Coach and Associate Certified Coach. As a queer woman, Samantha is passionate about working with other queer women in their 30s to fall madly in love with themselves and build a supportive queer community so that they can attract and keep the love of their lives and be in conscious healthy relationship. Samantha works with three distinct groups; i) queer women coming out later in life (30+) who need support in the coming out process, on identity work and on delving into the world of dating women, ii) queer single women in their 30s who are interested in a more holistic, nurturing approach to dating, and iii) queer women couples in their 30s that need help navigating communication, boundary and other issues to be in conscious healthy relationship.
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