Reflecting on coming out…

Dear Blog Family,
I apologize for the silence. I panicked after I hit ‘publish’ on my last post, realizing for the first time that I didn’t even know who all was reading my blog and what the true repercussions would be. I was silenced by this and couldn’t write for days. Of course, there are other reasons why I’ve been missing from the Blogosphere, like dating someone new and having to move homes yet again, but mainly it has been this general sense of shock that followed the catharsis, that has left me stunned.

I panicked because I wondered what future potential employers might think. I worried if any of my past students were reading the blog and what their reactions would be. I thought of old classmates who were now following me on FB and their words. Above all, I kept thinking about my U.S.-based family (as well as some Ghana-based ones) and what their reactions would be. Would they stop talking to me? Would my mother get the flack for her daughter?

In my panic, I forgot to fully acknowledge those family members and friends who have either commented or written to me offline to express their relief and encouragement around my coming out process. Most of them have brought tears to my eyes because they have comprehended the stress of holding on to such a secret as mine. They have understood what their “setting me up with various men” has done. One even said, “now go do what you were put on earth to do” (I’m paraphrasing) I thank you all for writing or commenting, on and offline. I am happy to call you friends and family. Although I know that for every one of yo,u there will be more who drop me from their blogroll, “de-friend” me, or write to inform me that they are praying for my devilish soul. I am grateful for your openness and willingness to voice words of care and love. I intend to fully respond to all questions and thoughts in time.

In all fairness, I have come out in more ways than one over the last three weeks, and I’m sure this has been overwhleming for everyone who loves and cares for me. I named my rape and subsequent abuse at the hands of my caregiver at age seven, I challenged the inherent idea that I was completely heterosexual, and I professed my loyalty to a country with sketchy race politics, which to some of my Ghanaian acquaintances felt like the ultimate betrayal.

On the day of the latter coming out, I felt energized and ready to take on the world. It felt like that little blue book had all the power in the world. I could change unfair policies and laws by voting. I could run for any office except Obama’s. On the flip side I could be called to jury duty to rule against my own brown folk. And I could be called to bear arms. Needless to say despite the side effects, I am happy not to have to deal with immigration every time I leave US soil. I m happy to know that if I choose to marry I can pass on this privilege to my partner. This little blue book means I no longer need visas to go to certain countries. Ironically, I will need one to go to my country of origin, but I guess that is the price one pays, n’est pas? This little blue book means that all U.S. embassies around the world are mandated to protect me if I show up on their doorstep. (Whether this will be a reality or not remains to be seen.) The privileges that come with this Certificate of Naturalization that I was handed rather unceremoniously, (since there were 1208 of us, they split us into 10 groups and the workers just went up and down the aisles calling out names) also brings me into conflict with my ideals. If there were ever to be an evacuation in a foreign country, I would be evacuated. Would I choose to evacuate or stay with the people? (Hotel Rwanda comes to mind vividly.) This certificate is again a cause for worry as I consider what my true goals in life are and what I hold to be true and non-negotiable. When asked how the new citizen feels, I responded, “it’s a double-edged sword.” And indeed it is, and I suspect will continue to be as I grow and continue to define for myself what I value and hold dear. Stay tuned…

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6 comments

  1. We decide to come out every day by affirming who we are to the world. And it takes great courage. A courage that none other than our own community can understand. I feel you sister.

  2. You express your identity struggle so eloquently. You are on the journey and you’ll balance these nationality struggles, I’m sure. The trick, of course, is to stay in control. Power to you.

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