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I've Been Out For 16 Years And I've Learned…

Feb 25, 2014

I came out late in life, I was 29 years old and I had been married to a man for the last three years when I finally dealt with what was silently nagging away at me for years. I went the logical route and spent a few thousand dollars in therapy and I worked out that I was a lesbian.  Then came the task of telling my (now) ex husband, his family, my family and my friends …all of whom were very supportive and always have been. Everyone gets along great, we’re all still in one another’s lives and very close knit. So, the first thing I learned after I came out is…

I am very lucky
One of the most common questions I get asked, regardless of having a successful podcast, even just in social situations, is “What was your coming out like?” When I tell my relatively boring and uneventful story, I’m usually met with, “Wow, you’re lucky! My parents _______ !” (fill in the blank with any of the following: kicked me out, disowned me, were embarrassed of me, cut me off financially, abused me, treated me so differently, had such a hard time accepting it, etc.)  So, I realised very early on that I was one of the few fortunate queers who’s parents, family & friends treated me with respect and kindness and understanding. It may not have been immediate, but their reactions were never negative. Most of the time, when I told someone, they took a moment to process it, they smiled, touched my arm or hand, and told me either they kind of had a feeling so it wasn’t a shock, or that it didn’t change how they felt about me. 

No matter how wrong this is, lesbians are the very stereotypes we try so hard not to laugh about
Oh, come on. Admit it. Regardless of what label you fall under (and there are MANY!), we undeniably perpetuate the stereotypes we get made fun of for. And the thing is…it’s perfectly okay because, all in all, we’re just being ourselves. From the butches to the femmes, to the lipsticks to the sporty dykes, just about any blog, tumblr, web series, TV show or book will have versions of the Shane McCutcheons, the Ellen Degeneres’, the Rosie O’Donnells, the Melissa Etheridges, etc. — which are ultimately the shaggers and shakers of our own communities.  There are the hot bartenders, the moody musicians, the sought-after event promoters, the greasy DJ’s, the well-dressed business professionals, the lesbian Moms, the drag kings, the trendy, funny dyke, the footballer sports enthusiast, the tortured novelist, the tortured artists, the feministy activist, the earth-saving, hemp-wearing volunteer, and the crazy cat ladies. But, the best part about it is that we’re all just PEOPLE, living our lives in whatever way makes us happy. So, who cares?

And finally, as cliche as it sounds: there IS someone out there that’s right for you, and you will find them when you least expect it.
Hey, look, seriously, I never thought I would ever want to spend every single day with someone, let alone that THEY would want to spend to spend every single day with ME. But, it happened. And, oddly enough, it happened right after my longest relationship, with a woman I thought was “the one.” Even more odd, was that I was so pissed off about that relationship ending, because it forced me to see the compromises I was making in order for it to work as long as it did – that now I had VOWED to NEVER do that sort of thing again. I was going watch sports when I pleased, eat cheesy Doritos, wear faded blue jeans (I’m serious, I’m not buying dark jeans. Ever.), order a pizza rather than cook, tweet constantly, let my cat sleep on my head, spend holidays with my family, NOT have a gym membership, take a nap on a sunny day, have a donut for lunch, or waste a day people-watching at a coffee shop whenever I felt like it without having to explain it or apologise for it. And you know what? I still do all those things and I have an amazing wife, who doesn’t have an issue with any of those things.  I’m not even that committed to most of those things any more, either, but at the time, I was adamant about them. It was just an overall lesson, an extreme that levelled out over time, but you get what I’m saying, right? Be yourself, live your life, and the right person will fit in effortlessly (for the most part….) If you find you’re forcing a square peg into a round hole all too often, something isn’t right, no matter how badly you want it to work- and honestly, you won’t like the person you become when you look back. So, let your expectations go, and focus on being the person you WANT to be, and the right person will come along and dig you for you.
If you want to tell us what you’ve learned since coming out, email

Denise Warner co-hosts “The Lesbian Lounge” podcast powered by ReallyWow Productions and, available on iTunes and writes for SHE Magazine. She is a self proclaimed laundry goddess and has the sense of humour similar to that of a 12 year old boy.

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