Round-Table Chat on Coming Out in honor of National Coming Out Day – Smart Sex Smart Love

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Jane, Jared and Nick join Joe for this special episode to chat all things ‘Coming Out.’ Three different guests, all with different experiences of coming out, talk about the highs of finally being able to live their lives authentically, and the lows of the effect coming out had on their families. Each guest has been on a winding journey of self-acceptance to get to where they are today – Jane happily engaged to her fiancée, Jare, who self-identifies as bisexual, firstly coming out as gay, then coming out a second time as demisexual, and Nick, who was born female-bodied, then medically diagnosed as Intersex, and now following a few gender confirmation surgeries, living life as a man. Joe explores their personal stories, and asks, “What was coming out like for you?”

Speaker 1:        Okay, so welcome to smart sex, smart love and today is a round table chat where I have three great guests talking about the coming out process and the title is how I came out. Today’s podcast is a special episode in honor of national coming out day. My guest this week, our 25 year old Jane Manley, 29 year old Jared boot and 44 year old Nick Sellke who will be sharing their coming out stories and talking about their paths to living their life true to their sexuality. Jane started to question her sexuality in the middle of college after breaking up with a longterm boyfriend and realizing she had a crush on a female classmate. She then spent the summer searching the internet for anything about queer and bisexual women and eventually came out as BI in her final semester of college three years ago. She says that despite some of the pain it caused her family, nothing feels better than living her life authentically.

Speaker 1:        Jared grew up in a conservative Southwest Michigan town and once I start, once he started college at the university of Michigan in 2008 he chose one of his girlfriends from New York city to come out as gay Jerrod’s conservative upbringing where he grew up conditioned back in 2008 to think that the Midwest and traditionally masculine culture were not safe for gay men after his freshman year. It was a winding journey of nearly a decade before he came out a second time as demisexual Nick 44 grew up in Detroit and was born female bodied. Throughout his childhood, his friends, family, and friends all knew that he identified as male since he was two years old. When Nick first brought up the idea of transitioning in 1998 it didn’t go well at all, but in November, 2007 he had a cancer scare after surgery. Nick found out that the tumor was internal testicles and he was diagnosed as intersex.

Speaker 1:        A year later, he started his medical transition by taking testosterone. Then between March, 2009 and January, 2010 Nick had a few gender confirmation surgeries. Welcome. All of you. Hi. Thank you. Yeah. I’m so glad you’re here. Thanks for doing this. I really appreciate it. So I think I’m just going to go around and you know, whoever wants to maybe chime in. Um, and maybe Jane, you Google first, how old you were when you first realized that you were, you self identify as lesbian, right? I bisexual. I was bisexual. I’m sorry. That’s okay. Um, and then what triggered that realization? Yes. I was 22 years old and it was funny at the end of that relationship I had with a guy, um, that I love very much. I actually said to him, I have a feeling I not be completely straight.

Speaker 3:        And he said, yeah, I think so too. So it was after that breakup that I really like scour the internet for that whole summer, a look into everything I could. And I ended up coming out to my best friend first. Um, I took her to my dad’s wedding. He had come out as gay, um, years before that. So I’ve, I felt like I was at a really good spot to Lake, initiate that process. And, um, shortly after his wedding, then I started coming out to all my siblings. Wow. That’s great. And I’m sorry I do that. Always do that. Uh, I don’t, I don’t mean that as a biracial and I know you didn’t take it that way. Yeah. But I always, you know, um, I go right to the gay. I still the binary. I still have to really self. Thank you for Greg Amie. Um, how about you Jared? What would you say, uh, when you first realized that you were gay and then demisexual?

Speaker 4:        Uh, yeah, so, um, when I realized, uh, I was gay, um, uh, it was actually one, uh, the Scooby doo movie came out when I was a kid and I was really into Freddy Prince Jr’s character playing Fred. Um, and I was like, Oh, this is interesting. Uh, all the other, uh, boys in my grade are interested in who’s playing Velma and Daphne, but not me. Not so much. Um, and that was really, um, like when I came to terms with it. Um, and over time, uh, I became, uh, more accepting of my gay identity, but there was something that was still just a little bit off. Every time I dated someone or every time I hung out, uh, at a gay bar or something like that. Um, the culture just seemed to me to be hyper-sexualized. And that was because I was demisexual. And I actually realized that, um, uh, through my own work, uh, with a therapist, uh, she, uh, helped me realize that, Hey, maybe there’s something else going on. Maybe you’re somewhere on the asexual spectrum. And, uh, uh, that was really significant for me when I identified as that me sexual.

Speaker 3:        And would you define demisexual so everyone knows what that means?

Speaker 4:        Uh, yeah. So, um, like a simple way to think of it as, um, a sexual attraction is built after an emotional, like a strong emotional bond, uh, is established with a person. Um, and you can still find other people like [inaudible] like cute or attractive, but there’s not really anything sexual there until that emotional bond is built.

Speaker 3:        Alright. Thank you. Thanks for telling us that. Jared. Yeah. Nick, how do you self identify?

Speaker 5:        I identify as male.

Speaker 3:        Okay.

Speaker 5:        Um, it’s been like the ma asks me like why I decided to be a gender therapist. Um, then I will out myself and say, well, I was born female bodied. I didn’t realize that I was, I didn’t even learn that I was intersecting until I was 32 and he was in my parents. Um, so I identify as male and straight. I mean I guess society would and I would fit into the category as queer, but I don’t really like that word because of the meaning behind it when I was a child. So I know people have reclaimed the word now, but um, I, I don’t feel comfortable identifying as queer, but that is the umbrella term that would identify me.

Speaker 1:        Right. Because of the LGBTQ IAA kind of thing.

Speaker 5:        Exactly.

Speaker 1:        [inaudible] and can you tell people what does intersex mean? So they know

Speaker 5:        intersects is when someone is born with both male and female reproductive organs or a combination of them. There are many different types of intersects. Um, sometimes people have external genitalia that are ambiguous, which was my case. And there was a slight different or some difference where it wasn’t just female but pretty much it was female when I was first born. And that’s why the doctor said, Oh, you have a female baby. And um, there wasn’t enough to question or have a question and do any surgeries. But some people who are born intersex has Andy Davis genitalia, um, you know, a combination of a typical male and female anatomy. Um, that’s pretty much, yeah.

Speaker 1:        Okay. And then some people who are intersex called themselves transgender, some people who are [inaudible] or they call themselves intersects. Is that correct?

Speaker 5:        That is correct. And I use both words, intersex and transgender equally because my experiences, my life experiences are that similar of somebody else who identify as transgender because I didn’t know as a child, but I was intersect. So I really don’t have the upbringing, same experiences as other people who are intersects. We would maybe go on, we’re forced to go through different surgeries to change the genitalia based on the doctors request for parents’ request. Um, my upbringing was very, very similar to someone else who identify as transgender. Where are you? I told you where one gender based on her genitalia and you completely identify as a different gender.

Speaker 1:        Okay. And then, so since you didn’t know, um, but you always knew you were a male. So I guess the coming out question to you is how did you know you were a male? Like Jane talked about getting on the internet and trying to figure it out and how did you, like what were the cues that you were male?

Speaker 5:        That’s a great question. So of course I was born in 75, 22 years old and 77. There is no internet. I just have always identified with the boys, my neighborhood, my dad, um, you know, my uncles just, I would always wear no shirt. When I was outside playing, I just literally felt like a boy completely. And whenever my mom would tell me, you know, to get inside and, you know, put a tee shirt on, you’re little booby, they’re out. Um, I would get mad at her and say, I’m, you know, they’re flat like what you talking about? So I, um, I fooled her input wheel around bandaids am I am I nipples. Then I would go back outside cause they were covered and then she would call me back in the house and I would say you can’t see them because they covered up. So I always felt, now I’m not really sure, you know, at two or three what, what made me realize, I just know that I’ve always felt like a boy. I not never felt like a girl.

Speaker 3:        Yeah. Throughout your even your adolescence, everything.

Speaker 5:        Yeah.

Speaker 3:        Okay. Thank you. All of you. So next question I have is how did it affect your family relationships, Jane? Maybe you could say first, how did that come about? Yeah, so I was really fortunate, as I said before, that my dad had come out when I was in high school. So my siblings pretty much had all come around. And when I told all of them throughout the fall of 2016, they were all really great about it. Even my one sister who was a little more religious at the time was really, uh, awesome. The hardest part was my mom. And of course I knew that going into it, you know, we are a Christian family growing up, so, and she’s still very much involved in church and stuff. So I knew that she was going to be disappointed. And I also knew that there was gonna be this other layer of my dad that it was going to be more than just me.

Speaker 3:        It was going to be about her divorce all over again and all that pain. Cause they had tried to stay together for 10 years. She knew for 10 years. Uh, so yeah, it was a multilayered situation and, and she cried and it was hard. But, um, she’s really great and she loves me very much. Uh, she’s gonna come to my wedding, you know, when a couple of years, hopefully I’m engaged. So, um, she’s great. Even though I know that she thinks that God has a different plan for me that you know, I’m biased so I should still try to find a man. But she is, but she is happy for me as a daughter and she’s not rejecting me, which I am eternally grateful for. Cause you’re engaged to a woman? Yes. I am engaged to when we’ve been together for two and a half years. Yep. Um, can you um, you self identify as BI?

Speaker 3:        Can you define bisexuality for you? Yeah, for me that just means that I have the capability to be attracted to um, anyone depending, not depending on their gender. So, um, yeah I have, I’ve dated a couple people. I have been in love with one man and in love with a woman. Um, yeah I guess that’s what it is for me. All right, great. Cause everybody has a different definition these days, right? Yeah, the whole like multisectoral community is like there’s so many names and nuances and stuff, but yeah, that’s what it’s for me, I never heard that. So that’s what I used to love working cause she used to work for me. Yeah, I did. You would come up with these terms that, you know, there’s so multisectoral yeah. Multi-sectoral is a word that, you know, cause the whole bisexual and pansexual community, like not always agreeing.

Speaker 3:        And what are the nuances between those two different terms and like, um, I didn’t make it up but like I read a lot on the internet trying to figure out like what are all these words mean? And multi-sectoral is a broad term for anyone who isn’t straight or gay. I’ve also heard plural sexual. Yes, I’ve heard that. Yep. Is the same thing. I can’t say for sure. There are a lot of words to describe people who aren’t gay or straight and so, yeah. All right. Well thanks Jane. Yeah. Jared, how about you with your family? How did that go?

Speaker 4:        Uh, yeah. Um, so, uh, it was a little bit, uh, split actually with, uh, um, my mom and brother. It led to me being more present and like, uh, fully in the moment with them, uh, when I’m with them now. Uh, so it definitely has grown and cultivated our relationship. Um, before there was like all the weeds, but it’s hidden secret that I was spending all of my time and energy towards keeping hidden. And now it’s something that I’m just able to watch a movie with them or go on a walk with them or go on a vacation and be fully there rather than, Oh, I’ve got to hide this and I got to keep this part of me secret. Um, and then with, uh, my father, uh, he, uh, wasn’t very accepting. He like was, uh, I guess what you would call a traditionally masculine, uh, in the sense that like, um, my son can’t be gay because, uh, that defines like what it means to be a man. Uh, so, um, there hasn’t been much contact there and then about a decade.

Speaker 3:        That’s great. What about being demisexual? Does that, was that a different, they have a different reaction to that same reaction?

Speaker 4:        Yeah, so actually, um, when I came out as demisexual, my brother, um, he’s younger than me. He, he kind of reacted like, Oh, okay, that’s cool. And, um, my mom, uh, she was a little confused. Uh, she, she kind of had the reaction like, Oh no, now there’s another identity that I have to learn more about. Um, but in time she became more accepting of it. But for her, when I came out as Demi, it was a little bit of a shock and she felt like, uh, I was layering identities, uh, on her.

Speaker 3:        And if I could ask both of you, Jane and Jared, so the research shows that, um, females come out to, there are no, that people come out to their same gender, parent last when they were gay, lesbian or bisexual. Is that true for both of you? West for me. Was it, and how about you Jared? Yeah. Okay. All right. And Nick, um, can you talk about what it was like for your family when you came out to them?

Speaker 5:        Sure. Um, and the child that I’ve always, when I was in a site as male, um, I went to a Catholic school. If I had to wear a plaid skirt and a white blouse that wasn’t allowed to wear pants like the boys did. Now Catholic school that private schools if it’s allowed, but um, it was uh, it was OK growing up. Um, after many years of, I think I was like maybe first or second I finally started getting boys toys because every time I would like at Christmas or my birthday when I would get toys that are groceries, I would just hand them to my sisters and when you actually have no presence after, I’m hoping opening them so my parents realize that they needed to um, start getting me the toys I actually wanted so I can actually something to play with. So that was as a child it was, it was fine cause I think that they were hoping I was going to outgrow it when I would go up North with my dad.

Speaker 5:        He’s a carpenter and so he, he bought a, a camera when I was younger. We’d go up there all the time and work on it and I asked him to tell everyone that I was a son, that I had short hair and I had boys clothes I’ve identified as male and he was totally accepting with it. He’s like, yeah, absolutely. Because people would look at him like he was weird but correct. Everybody in st Louis with my daughter. Um, so going up North with him all the time, the neighbors, the kids, everyone thought that I was male and it was great. And it, when it got difficult was when I was an adult in 90, 98 when I told them that I, you know, I always felt male, I just revisit it again and um, that was really tough on my family because I think both my parents more tough on my father than my dad.

Speaker 5:        And I agree and I can understand what, what Jerry’s talking about. Very similar to my dad. He’s a construction guy, carpenter, you know, just works for this handle that very strong. And he was more concerned about how other people would treat me or would look at us as a family and like, what’s wrong with the family? Why couldn’t they get it under control? And so it wasn’t really the best experience for me to come out to them. My mom didn’t say anything. Then my, that came out to them. She just cried a lot. She never wanted anyone to be mean to me and hurt me, but they always knew. So it was, it was really tough in 1998 for a few years and throughout the years it’s gotten very, very strong and very great. Now my parents or my dad to completely accepting without has always accepted me. This was always hoping that would be, you know, grow into being a female, but they’re very accepting now. They’re very happy, happy for me and proud of me. Not of you can’t make that in my life and they’re just really glad that I’m happy. I’m healthy and happy.

Speaker 1:        It’s very fortunate. Right. Because so many people don’t have these kinds of families that the three of you really have, you know, um, you know, if we could talk about bullying for a minute, um, Jane, have you ever experienced bullying? Did you ever have anything like that? No. No, I didn’t. Okay. That’s great. How about you Jared?

Speaker 4:        Uh, yeah, I did. Um, mostly in middle school and high school. Uh, it was mostly the boys like taunting me for not being masculine or not.

Speaker 1:        It’s just so crazy to me. I know it still goes on. I was so bullied. I mean, I had a horrible, horrible, horrible childhood being bullied and to think that, um, even in, you know, your generation, it’s still like that. And I know it’s still like, and even the younger generations,

Speaker 3:        you know, these no bullying zones, they’re not really no bully zones.

Speaker 5:        Yeah.

Speaker 3:        Yeah. There’s no such thing as a safe zone, sadly. And how about you Nick? Were you bullied?

Speaker 5:        Yes, very, very bad. I was bullied as a child once puberty hit. There were, there were three boys in my private school in seventh and eighth grade that were bullying me every day. Take my lunch, smash it, um, call me the, he, she just really, really, really, really make fun of me. I was stronger than the other boys either who played football. Um, I would do more pull ups in them. I would, you know, go to the top of the rope, you know, the gym class and faster than anybody. I was made fun of a lot. And then, um, in high school I had a lot of friends and I wasn’t out to anybody as to where males clothes and I would be on all the girl sports and had a lot of friends. And then as an, as an adult, I wasn’t really bullied until, um, 2007 or 2000, early 2000 feet when I needed a job. I was an engineer for many years and I kinda crashed and I got a job at a very large hospital in Royal Oak and that’s when I started my medical transition. And, um, I was bullied by very, very, very terrible. They, one of the supervisors there and that also about three or four coworkers called the, he, she, he, she it every day. Um, yeah, one of the supervisors got in my face and tried chest pumping me right after I had chest surgery.

Speaker 3:        Oh my God,

Speaker 5:        that was terrible. And it really put me mentally back to how I was feeling when I was in seventh and eighth grade, which I totally forgot about. I mean, I remembered going through that, but really put me back in that space again. Right. They had space. So, um, through the help of my therapist, seeing her twice a week for about a year, getting out of that network environment. Um, and then since then it’s been fine.

Speaker 3:        Well, I didn’t know that story about you. I had no idea.

Speaker 5:        Yeah.

Speaker 3:        All right. Thank you. Um, let’s talk about partners. So Jane, you wanna talk about your relationship and how you met her and yeah. Yes. I met my fiance Sarah four years ago. We were both in a writing class. Um, you were both English majors in college [inaudible] um, and we got together about, um, yeah, two year, two and a half years ago. So yeah. Isn’t that like another coming out? I always say it’s one thing to tell your family. Oh yeah. Right. And that’s another thing to see. It’s another, right. When I came out to my mother, I, I cringed it now, but I felt so torn in and weird. I had told her like, Oh, I’m by like, I might still end up with a guy, like it’s okay. Even though I, I had every intention of dating women. So, um, and I had my, I knew I loved Sarah, you and I was like, Oh, I’ll date girls.

Speaker 3:        But I was like, Oh, but she’s who I want. So, and we were really good friends. So once we started dating each other a while later, um, that phone call to my mom and she told me like I had a feeling this was coming. So that was like, that was made it better. But it was, Oh, I was so scared to talk to her about it. Like it’s real now. Like it’s not just like this idea in my, it’s you’re going to see us together. And that was hard for her and you were engaged to that. So nice. Yes. Yeah. That, that call was hard too. It was like, Oh, bunch of fun calls him. Oh, we have to call mom. And that was, Oh, that’s something. See that’s what’s hard. That’s what people don’t understand about being non heterosexual is when you’re a heterosexual and you call your family, it’s like, Oh, I’m excited to call my mom, cause you know, she’s going to be excited with you, but it’s not necessarily the case for LGBT. Yeah, Nope, I know how. Thank you. How about you Jared, your boyfriend?

Speaker 4:        Yeah. Uh, so, uh, I met my partner Aaron, uh, at, uh, Ferndale pride last year. It was a complete random coincidence. I was volunteering with affirmations and uh, he was there, uh, drumming up business, uh, uh, for the bank he works for and showing us support for the LGBT community. Uh, had a table set up there and one of my friends introduced me to him who has a mutual friend with him and, uh, we hit it off from the start and it’s been the best experience of my life. Uh, both of our families love each of us and it’s just been really great. Uh, yeah.

Speaker 3:        That’s great. Thank you for sharing that too. And Nick, how about you and your relationship?

Speaker 5:        Um, yes, I am September 5th, who was our 11 year anniversary and I met Stephanie on in July. She was, um, sort of originally from Flint and she was in California for many years working and she was planning on moving back here. So we were emailing back and forth, um, since July, you know, July in 2008 and then she moved back here in, went out to dinner on September 5th. So we still celebrate that anniversary when we first actually met in real life.

Speaker 3:        That’s awesome. And you have a child together?

Speaker 5:        Yes, we do. We have a beautiful girl who’s three and a half, she’ll be four in December.

Speaker 3:        And you know, it makes so much sense. Earlier you said, you know, I said, how do you self identify and you said male and you know, your really, um, heterosexual male, right? Isn’t that how you would self identify yourself?

Speaker 5:        That is, yes. Variances have been different than that, but absolutely

Speaker 3:        right. And you know, I always like to tell that quote, I forget who said it, but people who get confused about gender identity and sexual identity, that sexual identity is who I go to bed with and gender identity is who I go to bed as. Would you guys agree with that?

Speaker 5:        Absolutely.

Speaker 3:        Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Um, and let me just ask one, what would be one thing that you wanted to share? You, you’re coming on this podcast, it’s national coming out day and we’re all at different generations here on this, um, round table. Uh, what would you want to leave the listeners listening to this about just your coming out experience, maybe the best or the worst or something else that you want to leave with them with Jane? Why don’t you go first? Yeah, I guess it would be, um, what kind of terms you use coming out with. Um, I got a lot of people saying like, Oh, my girlfriend even was like, she came out as BI first and then out as lesbian and she was like, does that make you mad? Because that’s a very common thing. Like, Oh, do bisexuals get upset when people come out as BI first?

Speaker 3:        And obviously that’s different for everybody, but for me it’s, I don’t mind because I know who I am and I know that my community is valid. Um, and I think that some people just take time to try out different things and I think that’s a great thing. I think there’s a lot of terminology out there that’s being created and I think language evolves and so I think we should not hinder that. We should let people just keep trying different things on figuring out who they are. And if you don’t want labels, you don’t have to do that either. I think it’s like great thing is we’re living in a really great time right now. So really are. Yeah, I always say that, you know, people get upset. Therapists are like, what do we do? Parents? Like what do we do? I’m like, this is the job of every kid is to have different identities and different permissions. And we didn’t have that in our generation, which is why so many people have been longterm closeted it. Yup. And it won’t be the same here. Thank you. Jane, how about you Jared? What would you say you’d want everyone to know about the coming out experience?

Speaker 4:        Yeah, I guess, uh, my advice would be, um, because we really have a unique opportunity not being a part of like a heterosexual culture. Um, that affords us the unique advantage of being able to explore all of our identities. Um, so I would just suggest that people take advantage of that. Explore your gender identity or sexual identity or romantic identity, uh, your, um, monogamy identity, all of the different identities that you can have explore them and that’ll just make you so much more of a rich and beautiful person.

Speaker 3:        I love that you’re, um, you know, delineating that there’s a sexual identity, a romantic identity, a relationship identity, a gender identity. You know, there really are in P it gives people permission to understand while many are related, they’re not necessarily the same. It’s not, um, just one all the way around.

Speaker 4:        Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 3:        Thank you. And Nick, what would you want to leave people with from this podcast about your coming out?

Speaker 5:        Um, I definitely would like to leave two messages of the first one if your parents and ask their parents when they, the question, you know, I hear often is, you know, my child’s really, I don’t really believe that they’re transgender or the internet, you know, made them this way. And

Speaker 3:        I got it. I’m sorry. And a

Speaker 5:        lot of parents, it’s true in a lot of parents say when, you know, when I was a child, I didn’t even know what my favorite ice cream was. You know, and you know, my child now is doing honest with their gender and I, you know, I tell them, well, you never questioned your gender. You know, thankfully for you that’s never had to be thing. And the biggest decision you had to make was what your favorite ice cream is and that it’s probably one of your child, your child’s thing too. And they don’t know what their favorite ice cream is in addition to identifying with their body. Um, and it just listened to their children. They, they know who they are just well as the adult where, who they were as a child and um, for intersection and trans folks out there. And if they’re not sure if they want to start doing a medical transition or a social transition, they’re debating on it. I always tell everybody who’s proud of their heart and gut instinct and if they truly are trans, if they truly do want to, um, align their body with their mind and their soul, the feeling of, of the need to transition will just keep getting stronger and stronger. There’s no reason to rush into anything if you’re not sure what you want to do, but always be in tune with your heart and your mind and eventually it’ll get so strong where there is no other option if you’re questioning it.

Speaker 6:        That’s a great thing to end on. I really appreciate this round table. Thank each and every one of you, Jane, Jared and Nick for being on here and a happy national coming out day.

Speaker 5:        Thank you.

Speaker 6:        Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex smart love. I’m dr Joe court and you can find me on Joe that’s J O E K O R See you next time.

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