Health/Fitness » Health

The Mystery of Coming Out

by Renee Baker
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Aug 20, 2008

Who am I? Who are you? When am I not I and you not you? Why are we not ourselves? Why do we hide? What happens when we reveal ourselves or not allow others to do the same? What impact does this have on our well-being? In other words, what is this business of being in a closet all about?

Feleshia Porter, a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice, says we all have choices in life to make and one that is ever present is whether or not to allow people to see us as we really are. If not, then we remain a mystery to them.

Porter counsels those dealing with gender and sexuality concepts of self that don't fit the "norms" of our culture. Most of her clients have to come out as a natural part of their growth process. She says that coming out is really about being comfortable with who you are and not being afraid of others knowing who you are. She says "coming out" is really a symbolic term, "one of coming from a hiding position to an open position...it is descriptive of stepping out into the world."

Porter says when coming out, we have to carefully consider our own motivation for doing so. She says, "What is really important about the process is to be in a good place yourself. Coming out should not be done for validation of self from others." In other words, she says coming out is not about trying to "make ourselves okay", but about being more authentic and becoming closer to people. It is about breaking down the mystery so that others can trust us and we begin to trust them.

Porter says too, that when we are okay with ourselves, then the reactions others have to coming out will be more about them than us. "Don't take reactions from people personally," she says. However, she says it is important to be considerate of others' potential feelings and think about how we want to come out, such as in person or by email, and when it would be good timing and so on.

Porter says reactions to coming out can vary quite a bit from family to family. More than anything, she says the more people are educated about gender and sexuality, the more accepting they generally are. But she says we can't always be certain of how others react. Even the most anti-gay people can end up being your strongest ally. Coming out to them makes them re-evaluate their beliefs and they may have a complete turnaround. Sometimes it makes them question their own identity as well, not something many are ready to do. Porter also reminds us we are not the only one that has to come out, that our families themselves will have coming out issues as well.

But why come out at all? Porter says many people live compartmentalized lives and that takes up an enormous amount of energy. She says coming out allows us to have real relationships and not coming out really just prolongs the existing state - which is not having real relationships. So your choice is to risk the loss of inauthentic relationships in hopes of having real and meaningful relationships. She says the only way to stop worrying is to face our fears and begin to learn how to loosen up our boundaries. We have to have courage to be ourselves.

Porter recommends those coming out to seek the support of others that are like themselves. She says it helps to listen to their stories as we shape our own, but we should personalize the stories we hear to ourselves, yet not losing ourselves in our story making. Porter says it is in connecting to others like ourselves, that we are able to "normalize" our own path. She says we often feel like the "only person on the planet" to feel like we do and that we must be crazy. "It is a natural process and there is not something wrong with me."

Porter says that in coming out, her clients find they are in better physical health. They sleep better. They have less anxiety. And because they have more meaning in their lives, they take better care of themselves. They have learned to accept themselves and to be okay with others too. She says, "Even if others reject us, we still have to accept them for where they are at in their own growth."
Porter says, in the end, "It's good to be ourselves...a place of peace."

To contact Porter, you may reach her on her website at www.feleshiaporter.com.

Dr. Renee Baker is a massage therapist, transgender consultant and board member of Youth First Texas. She may be reached on her website at www.renee-baker.com


Comments

  • Kelli Busey, 2008-08-20 09:44:48

    Two of the most special people I have ever known, thank you.I will cross post this and do a extended comment.


  • , 2008-08-20 10:40:58

    Interesting article Ms. Baker, however, according to this website, you were a former client of Ms. Porter http://www.genderpower.com/index_files/Page2316.htm . As you know Ms. Baker, being a "Dr.", such dual relationships are a violation of the code of ethics of the TSBEPC and the ACA, yet Ms. Porter will do interviews for you, sit on the Board of Directors with you at Youth First Texas, provide you with referrals for your business (which is located in the same building by the way) and defend you by way of verbally abusing other clients who disagree with your corporate, religious and political views. And weren’t you both also featured in a Dallas Observer article last summer ?? Again, another prime example of biased journalism and favoritism based on excessive cronyism and dual relationships.


  • , 2008-08-20 11:45:42

    Wow, politics in action. This may be off the subject here but in your ad Dr. Baker you state that you are a Dr. and any literate person reading your ad would assume that you are a doctor in your health / therapeutic field but your website http://www.genderpower.com/index_files/Page1910.htm states that you have your doctorate in the engineering field. Hmmmmm, I question the validity of this article and of this author.


  • , 2008-08-20 12:35:40

    I have only one word to describe this interview, HYPOCRISY !! Feleshia, I think that its time that YOU start coming out about the truth as to what really goes on in your practice rather than encouraging everyone else to fix themselves. I happen to recall a few years ago a certain interview that one of your clients held with you in which you stated that "Entrepreneurship" and "Incentives" were important motivational factors in your career. And how coincidental, that the only transgender clients who seemed to succeed from your practice were "entrepreneurs", "Leaders", self proclaimed "consultants" and "Political Activists" in your own personal circle while other clients of yours were exploited, excluded and in one instance slandered because you and your friends / clients didn’t agree with them. A far cry from "Don’t take reactions from people personally," but funny you didn’t hold that belief when you were defending your cronies / clients when another client raised concerns about this little clique. Do you not recall Feleshia that you even went as far a to threaten one of your clients because she had concerns about the leadership of the GEAR group. I say this with conviction ladies and gentlemen because these allegations are true and documented. I only wish Feleshia would have the professional integrity to come clean as to the REAL story. As you would say Feleshia start "Walking the Talk" !!


  • Cheryl Daniel, 2008-08-21 08:57:38

    Wow, is someone a little angry?


  • , 2008-08-22 00:18:11

    Hmm. "cronies" "cliques" "slandering". This person writes these words on every Renee Baker article comment section. What is up with that?


  • , 2008-08-22 11:51:04

    Actually, it really sounds like that Renee Baker and this Edge paper may be getting ready to be sued. There is definitely a story here and it sounds like this person isn’t getting heard and has to resort to posting comments on articles, if they are all from the same person that is. Perhaps there should be an article written as sort of a face-off between Renee Baker, Feleshia Porter and whoever is uncovering this story. Only then will we know the complete story. Just a suggestion.


  • Tori Van Fleet, 2008-08-28 23:46:47

    Bonni...or is it still Bruce? Enough is enough. Knowing Feleshia, she probably told you to grow some cajones and walk out the transition door. No one can do it for you. You attack American Airlines (your employer), Donna Rose, GEAR, RCD, Lamba Legal...anyone that did not conform to your expectations. So do transition alone. Aren’t you woman enough...or maybe you don’t want it bad enough! You want everyone else to do it for you. You seem to be upset with everyone because they felt that YOU need to stand up for yourself at work in orde to transition. AA has MANY transgender workers...if you have problems with them, then there is another reason. Your continual bashing of Dr (yes, she has a doctorate and is thus, a Dr.) Baker and even your therapist helps to show everyone the underlying problem. You are continually posting and ranting as "anonymous" while talking about things that only the person Feleshia’s client would know. Yet you refer to this person as "one of her clients". How many personalities are in there with you?


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