Martina on Coming Out

In the December 2006 issue of Out Magazine, Martina Navratilova is profiled as one of the “100 Men and Women Who Rocked 2006”. In the article is a quote from Martina that so very much sums up my philosophy on coming out.

“If you don’t come out, you are living in a self-inflicted prison. That is no way to live.”

Trying to be someone you’re not and living a lie is a self-inflicted prison whether it pertains to your sexuality or any other part of your authentic self. And, I know for a fact that from a self-inflicted prison it is pretty darn hard to truly be successful. Oh, you might “fool ’em” for a while and experience some external trappings of success, but at what cost? And eventually the truth comes around full circle one way or another.

You might think… that’s easy for her to say, she’s Martina after all — tennis goddess, fit, beautiful, successful, established in her career. That is all true now, but not at the time she boldly went where no woman ever went before in professional tennis and publicly came out. Not only did she risk her entire career but she also risked her home and safety because of the conditions in her native country. And, my bet is she pissed off more than her fair share of people in the US as well. But, could you see Martina being anyone but Martina? Not really, and that is the beauty of being authentic.

It takes courage to come out but courage is a small price to pay for feeling free and confident in who you are. Are you feeling like a prisoner in one or more areas of your life? If so, what are you waiting for? If you’re scared or unsure, that is certainly understandable. If that’s the case, get the support you need — a trusted friend, therapist, online resource, or coach — and start taking steps to remove the walls that keep you stuck in a life that doesn’t quite feel right.

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Comments

  1. bravo, paula – i remember reading martina's 'coming out' book back in, i think it was the 1980's – the judy nelson years! she dealt with alot too given her czech background and defection. so that was training i suspect for her next 'defection' from the 'assumed straight' world.

    ironic that you are bringing up the topic of coming out. i think many gay americans are fudging a bit on these gay and lesbian surveys. i've read about at least two recently (the glcensus.org group and it was either harris interactive or the community marketing folks) where people overwhelmingly reported they were out (upwards of 80-90%). i just don't think that's the truth. of course, it's difficult to define 'out'.

    in most parts of america, people are very IN the closet. in larger cities and in states where there is legal protection for employment, housing, etc., folks are more willing to be out but, in states and towns where there are no legal protections, it is VERY difficult. for example, i now live in a rural area where the one gay social organization in town wants nothing to do with the press and they try to remain 'under the radar'. interesting, to say the least…

  2. Jeffrey M. Harty says:

    Dear Barb,

    I was wondering if by any chance you can answer a question fro me? I was wondering is there a such thing as a male lesbian? Would it be possiable for a man to be a lesbian?

  3. Nikki Loh says:

    Hey Jeffery

    I note that nobody replied on this tricky question….

    This is the first post I have ever done – I've spent loads of time researching this on the web and I can tell you one thing for sure – people either don't know, or aren't saying.

    I'm a happily married man who for years has known – not had the sense, or the feeling – but knows that I'd prefer to be a woman. Trick is, I also know if I were born a woman, I'd love women.

    I've searched for an answer and I know I don't like guys. Automatic answer for this one is – oh, your a closet gay. Well I can tell you that ain't so. I'm not, nor have I ever been attracted to men.

    I'm a bit of a cross-dresser but I do it to be close to my femininity. My wife knows and she's not altogether accepting – although she admits openly that she likes women sexually – interesting. We have some things to work through there obviously.

    Cant't really explain more than that: guy, plays sport, successful, emotional, deeply loyal, best friends with wife, dresses up because it feels nice, wants to be a beautiful woman with a beautiful woman

    Can't find a better label for myself than "male lesbian"

    I think we will see this becoming a more frequent phenomenon…. watch this space!

  4. Jeffrey M. Harty says:

    Hi Nikki,

    I can totally relate, I wish I was a woman. Since my son has been born it brought out alot of feelings. Either it be a nutureing feeling or a motherly. Maybe I am off base here. Now I am getting a divorce. Well I hope I can find a women that likes femininity in a man.

    Good Luck
    Michele

  5. Nikki Loh says:

    No Jeff, no motherly feelings as I have 2 kids (boys) and I'm definately their dad. Your situation sounds more intense as you're obviously having martial problems with the divorce and all. Happy to chat further if you want to share more…

    Cheers

    Nikki

  6. JEFFREY HARTY says:

    DEAR PAULA,

    I WAS WRONG, I BECAME A FATHER NOT TO MENTION A CAREGIVER . IT WAS A POSITIVE REACTION TO HAVING A CHILD TO CARE FOR . I KNOW I AM NOT A WOMAN BUT A MAN THAT HAS A SENSITIVE SIDE. I WILL GET MY LIFE BACK ALONG WITH BETTER VISITATION WITH MY SON. I HOPE ONE DAY MY EXWIFE WILL TREAT ME WITH RESPECT AS A MAN ALONG BEING JASONS FATHER

  7. Nikki,

    I appreciate your comments. I've just begun exploring this "lesbian male" concept. It may explain many things for me. The Wikipedia article on love-shyness hits me where I live in many ways, and Dr. Gilmartin's chapter on male lesbianism is fairly close to home as well.

    I'm married, in my 50's. There are far too many details about my life to recount here. One of the more amusing involves a gay friend of my wife's whom I've known and socialized with for 3 or 4 years. He calls me the "gayest straight man" he knows, and my wife tells me that he has told her that he can't figure me out. LOL! Well, I've had some trouble with that one, myself. I've known for a long time that I'm not a gay man (no interest there), but I may just be one of these male lesbian thingies. I've been told that I'm incredibly close to my feminine side. Almost all the people who inspire me are female. I definitely wish I'd been born female myself, though I have no desire to transgender or cross-dress. I'm into lesbian cinema ("Go Fish," "Claire of the Moon," etc.) in a big way. I've never clearly understood why I'm so drawn to it. Perhaps this is why.

    There is a darker side to such a diagnosis. Individuals may differ, but the vast majority of people in every category will reject a man who comes out as a male lesbian. I haven't yet read "The Well of Loneliness," but I'm trepidatious that it may be prophetic. I have no illusions; as far as the vast majority of female lesbians are concerned, I will never be anything more than an interloper. I can press my face against the glass, but that's it. Nevertheless, coming out to myself would probably be a relief, give me confidence and help me understand myself. I've only been thinking along these lines for the past couple of days, and it's true that I feel somewhat less anxiety-ridden, a bit more free. Because of the way I was raised, and the ways I've dealt with it, I think there is major repression and masking in my life, and it may take some time to work through it.

    Anyway, thanks for your positive comments, and thanks to Paula for hosting this thread. You know, in the end, the only benefit to the labels is in their ability to help us understand and accept ourselves and each other. In the end, they're just words. Only love is real.

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