I’m now 100% out socially.
I’m Ezekiel everywhere. Anytime I get called my given name, it’s because someone forgot, not because they don’t know, and that will go down over time.
The final large group meeting at work was on Tuesday, a couple days ago. By all reports, it went really well (I wasn’t there, HR ran the meeting). A few people wrote me afterwards to say nice things. Once I got word the meeting was over, I sat down to send off about 20 e-mails to additional more distant friends and colleagues.
Then I did what has been looming as the “final step” (socially) for a long time:
I changed my name on Facebook.
I think for some people, that’s a first step. For me, it had to be a last, because it was truly a broadcast to all possible corners of my life — work contacts, close local friends, long distance friends, family, people I’ve met only online (mostly from the cargo bike world and queer parenting communities), people from high school and college. Once word went out there — it was official.
The response was overwhelmingly positive and kind. Lots of folks were finding out there for the first time. Lots of folks already knew. Many many people reached out to talk who I haven’t seen or connected with in a long time. It was kind of a “this is your life” moment.
That was all on Tuesday.
Wednesday, I was back in lab. In the morning, when I arrived on campus, and realized I was just me, that I was here, that I didn’t have to ignore or hide anything all day, I felt a wave of jubilation. I just couldn’t stop grinning. As the day progressed though, as I felt the weight of needing to manage all of these interactions and make them go as well as possible. I started thinking more about what everyone else was thinking about me. I figured HR had put the fear of god into them so that’s why they were being nice, and that what they were really thinking was that I was a complete nutjob.
I know this is what I do. This is another version of exactly how I have felt after coming out to any new group of people so far. I even felt like this after I told my closest friends, way back before I even knew exactly what I was telling them. I felt like this after I asked our religious community to change name and pronouns. Right afterwards, before I have much evidence to the contrary, I’m convinced that everyone thinks I’m crazy or wrong.
I also know based on all these previous experiences, that it will get better. By next Monday or so, maybe even this weekend, I should be good to go, I won’t be able to believe I put off coming out at work for so damn long. But for right now, I do feel a little unmoored and unfocused, a little unsure of what comes next.
Even though I felt unsettled, there were moments during the day when I suddenly remembered I was really done (with this part). I spent a fair amount of time trying to change my name and contact information in various necessary online systems (good lord. surely changing a name was easier before we all had about a million online tentacles of our lives?). When I looked at my screen and saw my name, looking like such a real name, I felt really good. When the IT people at my university called to set up my new e-mail account, and they said “Is this Ezekiel?,” my heart skipped a beat. I said “Yes.”