“Are you sure you are ok with her coming to dinner with everyone?” I ask my mom as we are making plans for dinner.
“Yes, of course. Are you comfortable with introducing her and is she ok with this?” my mom asks.
I know she is still getting used to the idea that she won’t have a son-in-law but if things continue with my current girlfriend, she may have a daughter-in-law.
“Yes, we have both talked about it and we are looking forward to having her meet the rest of the family before the holidays are here,” I assure her.
“Ok if you are sure. You know that your Auntie and Uncle may not have the best reaction,” my mom repeats herself.
“Yes mom, but you know this is who makes me happy and I want to share my life with her, and I hope the rest of my family chooses to still be a part of ours,” I say.
The awkward pauses are still there when we talk but we are finding our new normal.
I am now working on being more open with my mom and sister so they can support me, even though for a few years I withdrew from my family after retiring from the military, a breakup with my last boyfriend and figuring out how to accept that I have always been attracted to women.
At times I am nervous about introducing her or I am not sure I fit in, but it only takes one of her looks or a squeeze from her hand to assure me we are in this together. Her assurance grounds me and at the same time makes me lighter. I finally have a place and someone that understands me.
Transitioning to civilian life comes with its own set of problems but then also dealing with gender identity or sexual orientation at the same time creates additional stresses. The environment and the history of the military has not been welcoming to people with different gender identities or sexual orientation this carries over to some of the groups that help veterans. Veterans can already feel isolated and adding this bias creates additional isolation.
There are many glamorized and dramatized situations shown by the media, but like much of life that is shown on TV it is not how things will go in your life and it is not the healthiest way to handle situations. PFLAG Atlanta published an article that has grounded, rational tips on how to come out to family members and friends for the best possible outcome.
When you come out, how much you share and with whom is your choice and should be dictated by what you are comfortable with. Healthline covers a wide range of possibilities when coming out, click here.
Finding supportive people within your new community is key, one nonprofit that supports all veterans is called Modern Military. Part of your support group should be your healthcare team so they can address any specific needs or questions that you may have, the VA now has specialized care for LGBT, click here to visit their page.
Coming out is one of the first steps in your journey, finding your place will have ups and downs, Strong Family Alliance explains the stages that you may experience, click here to read their article. Assumptions that people make will have you coming out multiple times in your life. Most of society assumes you will be heterosexual or your birth gender, you will find your own way to deal with this whether it is letting it go or finding your catch phrases that you add in your conversations.
To learn how to support someone who is coming out and how to handle your own emotions read the following article or click here. Make sure and watch for future articles that will cover LGBQT Veteran issues.
You should also contact your local Veterans Service Office to be connected to resources for LGBQT Community.