I have been “coming out” for so many years. It’s agonizing each time. Will they still respect me? Will they dismiss me? Will they be cruel? Will they understand or even try to? Yes, I’m gay, but I’m talking about being disabled.
I’ve had to “come out” about as many times as disabled as I have for being gay, maybe more. Wanna guess which one I’ve met more acceptance for? It’s a sad world we live in where I am just as worried about doctors taking me and my illness seriously as I am to be accepted for my sexuality. Ideally, neither should cause me concern, but I grew up in a conservative Midwestern town that has me inescapably rooted in the reality of bigotry.
When I was growing up, kids were lucky if their family accepted them when they came out (still accurate). Nowadays, there are really lucky kids who just exist and don’t realize they need to come out…they just are. I love that progression, though I’m not so delusional that I think it’s become the norm. But with chronic illness and disability, I don’t feel a progression.
Instead I feel left out, ignored, forgotten, societally useless (as labeled by others, not myself), and exhausted down to my soul. No one prepared me for this. I knew what possible reactions to expect when I first came out as bisexual, but nobody told me how much I’d be mistreated when I first became ill.
I am supremely lucky to currently have a phenomenal support system of friends and family, but you should know that I built that myself and had to kick people out of my life in order to feel this way.
We need to stop breaking people to make them fit into some mould of expectations handed down to us by narrow-minded, bigoted people. I am desperately wishing to see more love and acceptance in this world. Please.