A Love Letter from Dakota Adan on National Coming Out Day
I have a special place in my heart for people who are left-handed. In elementary school, they had to rummage through the art supplies box hoping to find a pair of scissors molded just for them. As adults, handshakes feel strange, tools never quite sit right, and writing anything with a pen presents the very real danger of smudging every other word. People who are left-handed understand in a small and sometimes comical way the experience of living in a world not designed for you. And then there are the minorities, oddballs, and outcasts; the people who never quite feel native to the spaces they inhabit. The girl who feels “too tall”; the boy who is teased for being “too short”; the immigrant family or the Muslim women who pretend not to notice people as they stare. As a gay man, my heart will always have room for them. And my table will be perpetually set with an open seat for the ones who have been left out.
For most of my life, I bore the crushing feeling that I didn’t belong. I had no gay heroes, just bullies to endure. So as a young man, I policed my mannerisms, my interests, and the octave of my voice, desperately trying to fit in with “the boys.” It didn’t work. At this point, many of my queer brothers and sisters make it our personal mission to rail against a society or religion that refuses to acknowledge us. And who can blame us? There is a reason the first poem I chose for this post was by Andrea Gibson. We must admit to how deep the wound goes if we are to fully participate in the healing. The trauma incurred from living in the closet during our formative years is unfathomable for some of us, matched only by humanity’s unthinkable capacity to overcome. We scream for acceptance, when the humbling reality is that it is our own life’s journey to accept ourselves day by day. We can’t go back and change the past, but we learn to trust the things we love. And we can learn to build something beautiful and new.
The question, “will I come out and be who I am?” feels like the ultimate query. And I know this might not make sense to everyone reading these words right now, but our wound is also our gift. Virtue is vice overcome. My stalwart allegiance to hope, empathy, and inclusion are the flowers that grew out of my scars. Who we are meant to be is worth the arduous journey of becoming. After National Coming Out Day is over, and on the other side of the closet door is another question so much more beautiful and exciting, I cannot wait to see how it fits on your skin. Now that you have released yourself from the prison of convention and the burden of shame… who will you become?