Coming Out Stories During Pride Month

I’ve attended Pride events large and small in the last decade, but nothing moved me more than Capital Pride last Saturday on the grounds of the North Dakota State Capital in Bismarck. This town I grew up and fled from, finally felt welcoming…and the rainbow cloud over the festivities confirmed that.

In preparation for Pride, a local bakery held a 100-word Pride story contest with prizes for first, second, and third places. Stories were submitted. Prizes were awarded. There was, however, no publication of the stories.

Our stories deserve to be told for we are your daughters, your sons, sisters, brothers, your mothers, fathers, and yes, even your grandparents.

My military-related coming out story was published Wednesday, 23 June on The War Horse. The following is my tiny personal coming out story…

“I’m Proud of My Gay Daughter”
said the pin I wore to my first pride event.
Daisy came out as bisexual in 2001 at 16.
Five years later, she dated a woman.
I worried for her career and safety.
Five years after that, I came out.
I had to start over…again.
When I broke the news,
Daisy tucked me under her wing.
At 56, I’d lived in many closets.
If Daisy hadn’t come out, I wouldn’t have either.
And that pin I wore to the 2011 Motor City Pride?
Daisy wore one that said
“I’m Proud of My Lesbian Mom.”

Badass Women Warrior Writers

After I was discharged from the Marine Corps, my first mother-in-law asked me what would be a prescient question.

“What do you want to do?”

“I want to be a writer.”

“Don’t strive to be a writer, write.”

It would take years before I finally put pen to paper, first writing poetry in the 1990s. Then in 2018, I saw a Facebook post saying the MilSpeak Foundation was hosting a Women Warriors Writing Workshop weekend at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. I only had to pay for my room and transportation.

I jumped at the chance and took an early flight so I could check out the Whitewater Center and take a zipline tour before the festivities started. Note to self: visit the Whitewater Center again and try whitewater rafting.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wanted to reignite that dream, to write the book I wanted to read when I was struggling.

The weekend was transformative.

A Friday night welcome reception with Open Mic kicked things off. Several women were published authors, and many others were further along their writing journeys than I was. It was intimidating. And inspiring.

The weekend was filled with keynotes, break out sessions, and on Sunday a small-group workshop. Participants were asked to bring five copies of a work-in-progress, whether it be fiction, memoir, poetry, or an article. I went back to my room to write something so I could participate.

Nothing.

I could not write. I was so hung up on wanting it to be perfect that I couldn’t get any words out of my head.

Sunday morning I listened in awe while other brave writers shared their stories. I vowed one day I would too.

It’s been three years since that weekend spent in the company of badass women warrior writers. Although I didn’t write anything myself, I consider it the beginning of my writing journey because of the writing friendships I made and the inspiration I received…and the adventure continues.

Once A Marine, Always A Marine

Forty-five years ago today, I stepped off the bus in Parris Island, South Carolina onto the infamous yellow footprints, forever changing my life.

While I intended to stay in and make it a career, the post-Vietnam era was not a popular time to be in the military. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out after my four-year enlistment. Now, 45 years later, it’s crazy how fast time has flown.

I am forever grateful to be one of the Few and the Proud…Semper Fidelis my Sisters and Brothers!