I should be asleep. My vacation is almost over, and I need to catch a plane home at some ungodly hour tomorrow, so I should really turn off my computer and go to bed. But there's only 1.5 hours left in National Coming Out Day (thanks to The Lesbian Next Door for drawing my attention to this previously unknown to me event), and I feel like I should use the opportunity to say something.
Until recently, I didn't think much about the issue of coming out. I came out to my friends and my family between the ages of about 15 and 18*, so to me coming out was something I had left in the long ago past. Sure, my new friends from medical school had no idea, but I was single and career-focused, so it didn't seem like an essential piece of information for them to know about me.
And then I started dating again.
And I realized very quickly that the inherently awkward world of internet dating was made ten times worse by the fact that the people closest to me had no idea that I was dating women. So once again, at the fricking old age of 36, I started to come out. First to a very close friend via the chat function on Facebook, and later to the remainder of my med school friends via a Facebook email. (Yes, I couldn't get up the guts to tell any of my friends in person so I told them via Facebook.) Not surprisingly, given that I have a truly awesome group of friends, they were all incredibly supportive of me. Easy-peasy.
But now that my friends know, I'm much more aware of just how many people in my life don't know. Most of my colleagues. The attendings I work with. My current and (hopefully) future bosses. And while I don't think they necessarily need to know, it does create some awkward situations. Like the ongoing joke that one of the secretaries makes about how she needs to find me a man so that I won't move to another city when my training is over. Or my references to dates as "going out with a friend". Or my commiseration with the other fellow about being single, even though I'm really not anymore.
Being here in Philadelphia, with distance from my regular life and time to think, I've come to realize just how heavy it is to carry a secret. How much energy gets wasted in thinking and stressing and wishing that I'd been born into a different world where my sexuality is as much a non-issue to other people as it is to me. When I found out it was National Coming Out Day, I was tempted for a moment to post a public comment about it on Facebook just to get the whole coming out process done and over with. But I didn't. And I won't. I'll keep carrying the weight a little bit longer, all the while wishing that I didn't have to.
*Stories that I may choose to share someday in the future, although not tonight when an early morning wake up call looms.