What does Elizabeth Gilbert’s coming out have to do with me? (Lots, apparently!)

Last Wednesday, I was up early checking email when a request popped up from the Telegraph, a UK newspaper.

“Hi, I’m writing from the Telegraph Women’s section, wondering whether you’d consider doing an article for us? It would be linked to the news about Elizabeth Gilbert. I saw you quoted in a previous piece, and thought you’d be perfect.”

I don’t always wake up to requests for articles from a British newspaper, but when I do, it’s a very good day! Soon, I had another request–this time from The Guardian–for a 5:30am (US time) phone interview the next day for an article on women coming out later in life.

After these two articles were published last Friday, the emails started pouring in from the UK and beyond–from women wanting to join our online support group.

I’m beyond thrilled that our group is growing! We’re now up to over 300 members, and I have about 20 more emails in my inbox right now–more women who are looking for support and connection on this journey.

One of the worst parts for me when I decided to come out was thinking that I was the only one who had ever done this. I had a difficult time finding resources for coming out later in life, and after I did it, I promised myself that I would find a way to help other women on this path.

Whether you identify as questioning, bisexual, lesbian, queer, or “beyond labels,” if you are in the process of coming out and coming to a greater understanding of your identity, you are welcome in our group!

I’m so glad to see this issue getting more publicity as I firmly believe there is power in visibility.

Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for speaking your truth! It’s helped countless women feel less alone today, and that’s a very good thing.

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Author Elizabeth Gilbert (left) and Rayya Elias. Photo credit: Noam Galai/Getty Images

 

 

 

My Amazing, Gay-Friendly Mississippi Hometown

I am still reeling (in a good way!) from the news that my hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi passed a resolution this month recognizing the worth and dignity of its LGBT citizens. My how times have changed! Growing up there in the 80s, I could never have imagined that a public affirmation of gay people would be issued by a mayor in this conservative state.

I think it mirrors the conversations that are happening all across the country when people find out that their best friend, their sister, or their neighbor is gay. It’s so much easier to dismiss nameless and faceless “gay people.”

Someone who is asked to support marriage equality might hesitate if they remember last Sunday’s service condemning it. But when the same person realizes that marriage equality is essential for their sister and her wife to have a whole and happy life, that’s when the connection is made. “Ah, they want the same things that I have–the chance at happiness with the person they love and to have that commitment publicly and legally acknowledged.” It’s truly a no-brainer.

And, again, this is why it is so important for gay people to be as out as they can be. The more they see us, the more they know that we are just like them. The spectrum of gay people is as varied and diverse as the spectrum of straight people.

The culture is changing so much, so quickly. Exciting times for those of us who are coming out and enjoying our second half!

Please leave me your comments below about these historic changes in our country and how they are affecting you. Also, please sign up for my exclusive weekly email newsletter at the link on the top right of the blog. I’ll be releasing excerpts from my upcoming book “A Late Life Lesbian Story” soon! I can’t wait to share more of my story with you–newsletter subscribers will get the first peek!