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Better Late Than Never: A Mature Lesbian’s Coming Out Guide

Better Late Than Never: A Mature Lesbian’s Coming Out Guide
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Written by Candy Parker, Lesbian.com

I came out in 1996 just four months shy of my 35th birthday. I took the leap a year before Ellen DeGeneres made television history with her own announcement, and middle-American housewives still had another six years during which to delude themselves about Rosie O’Donnell.  I was offered no magazine covers or media icon awards as I took those initial steps toward my lesbian life. Instead, I stared down the daunting task of ending my 11-year marriage and the unpleasant undertaking of explaining to my friends and family why I was doing so.

Sixteen years, one DADT repeal, and seven gay marriage-friendly states later, coming out is a seemingly easier task.  But just as every hitter is only as good as his last at-bat, coming out is only as easy as those in your immediate circle of friends, family and co-workers make it. Coming out experiences are like snowflakes in that each one is different, and, yes, they’re also like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.

For others who, like me, didn’t come to terms with their authentic lesbian self until later in life — perhaps your parents didn’t send you to summer camp or you skipped college — I’ve prepared the following guide. Mind you, I’m no expert and don’t have any initials after my last name, but I did already walk a mile or two in the shoes you’re about to try.

Lesbian, know thyself
Coming out later in life can be tricky. You might know you’re a lesbian, but if you’ve been circulating exclusively in the straight world for decades how do you really know you’re a lesbian?

Possibly you had a same-sex experience earlier in life; possibly not. Maybe dalliances outside your existing hetero relationship lead to the Sapphic epiphany; maybe not. Perhaps you’ve simply always felt different than your fellow soccer moms, or perhaps you’ve felt for them. For my part, I’d had a girlfriend in my late teenaged years, but after marrying a man at age 23, I never consciously gave serious consideration to the possibility that I might be a lesbian or at least bisexual.

Whatever your specific circumstance, it’s important that you understand and assess your motivation to ensure you’re not diving into the lady pond for all the wrong reasons. Sure, that Katy Perry song is catchy and Ellen and Portia make a cute couple, but leaving a marriage for lesbianism is a lot more permanent than buying a red convertible to satiate that mid-life crisis. Even if you’re certain of your motivations, talk to a therapist who can help successfully guide you through the transition. Mine was able to help me see that the restlessness and “something’s just not right” feeling I’d had my entire adult life meant a change was in order, even though I’d not kissed a girl in almost 15 years.

Be a little selfish, but not too much
After what may have been decades of suppressing your true self it may be tempting to make your evolution all about you, but remember, especially if you’re leaving an otherwise happy marriage and children are involved, being a newly minted lesbian does not automatically make you the center of the universe.

As smitten as you might be with that woman you just met online, remember that your announcement may have served as a one-woman wrecking crew on at least one other person’s life. Your decision has been made, but you can deliver it — and execute it — with compassion and empathy. This is an area in which I personally have a few regrets. Shoe-horning a new partner into the equation just eight months after leaving my marriage wasn’t good for my relationship with the new girlfriend or my son. Though my shell-shocked ex-husband was a trooper and helped us move her furniture into my apartment when she relocated from half-way across the country, asking and allowing him to do so wasn’t one of my most shining moments as a human being.

Keeping perspective on your coming out is another area where a good therapist can be invaluable. Later in life you’ll want to look back on your transition period as a positive event. Don’t behave in a way you’ll later regret.

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27 comments

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3:26PM PDT on Mar 17, 2013

As a late to life lesbian myself, navigating the lesbian world was difficult for the first couple of years. It was lonely and painful. It took time to create friendships and find a relationship. As a result I launched a business to support the lesbian community in dating, building friendships and coming out later in life. You can find it at http://www.gaygirldatingcoach.com

11:59AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

I made a video about why Homosexuals should have equal rights. It’s at my YouTube channel Zarrakan, and here’s the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdK5ETOJusw

Watch it, share it, and join the fight against the evil Homophobes.

4:52PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

So sad having to wait so long ...

4:00PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

1:48AM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

Great article of sharing an experience of being human....

9:16PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

@Christeen A. "This is something I am tired of hearing about. Do what you want with who you want but stop telling me about it."
============================
Geez, it just KILLS me, all these IDIOT RIGHT-WING BIGOTS proving their IDIOCY by COMING TO GAY SITES, for NO OTHER REASON THAN TO POST THAT THEY DON'T WANT TO READ ABOUT GAYS.
How much Sense does THAT make?????? With literally THOUSANDS of other sites, even just here on Care2, they could go to, they CHOOSE THE SITES WHERE THEY "HEAR ABOUT" GAY PEOPLE.
What EVIL, POWERFUL, IRRESISTIBLE HYPNOTIC FORCE is MAKING all you guys COME OVER HERE AND READ THIS STUFF AGAINST YOUR WILLS????????
Boooooooga-boooooooga!


8:43PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

thnx

7:42PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

ChristeenA why are you in the LGBT section then?


It is never too late to come out, accept yourself and/or stop denying/lying about how you truly feel!

2:31PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

I believe the good go to heaven whether gay or not. I am not God like everyone else who judges

12:16PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

I came out when I was 40.

You would think that living in California, I would have been around, and knew about, gay people. Sadly, I didn't..... I knew from a very early age that I felt that I "just didn't fit in", but had no idea why. To fit in, I consumed massive amounts of alcohol, and was very promiscuous with men, thinking THAT would make me feel that I fit in. Nope, it just made me feel worse. Luckily, I had gone to, and read a bunch of self help books, meetings, etc. and became sober for about a year. The thing that opened my eyes was when my brother came out to my parents.

Wow, (I thought), maybe I am gay, too. I went on-line into a chatroom, and just asked "How do I know if I'm a lesbian?" Luckily, a few people talked to me and I realized that this is who I am, and have always been. (It took me some time to come to this realization). A few months later, I went to a gay pride festival with one of my on-line friends, and for the first time in my life, I FIT IN, and I felt home!

Needless to say, I have not felt the need for a drink or drugs in the past 14 years. I am home, and I could not be happier.

I hope that this younger group of kids, growing up with the knowledge and acceptance of LGBTQ people, will allow them to be who they are, and live a happy and fulfilled life.

Thank you, Candy Parker, for your story.

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