I started selectively coming out about eleven years ago. I pretty much always knew I wasn’t ‘straight’, but I didn’t know what to call myself, largely because I grew up in a time when calling someone ‘gay’ was considered the funniest/best insult by a lot of people, and I didn’t really know any labels beyond gay and lesbian. For a long time, I figured it would be a part of me I kept mostly to myself, but when I started dating a girl, I knew I needed the people closest to me to know about this side of my life and this important person I loved.
The first person I came out to was my friend Meghan. I don’t remember how I told her. I can’t remember the exact words. I honestly don’t even remember if I did it in person or on MSN Messenger (showing my age here, haha). What I do remember is one of the next times I saw her, she gave me a book: Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall. Meghan was always lending me books – books that often ended up being favourites, like The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. When she gave me Bottle Rocket Hearts, a book about 18-year-old Eve, a French-Canadian lesbian, I was grateful, but I don’t think I got her true intentions. I was excited because the book is set in Canada and there are so few books set in my beloved homeland.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, as I found the LGBTQ+ community on Twitter and heard about people’s experiences with coming out that the significance of Meghan’s gift really hit me. It wasn’t just that she was giving me a book she thought I would like. It was her way of saying ‘I love you, I support you, I’m here for you’. I cried when I realized, and I still get teary at times when I think about it. She was the perfect first person to come out to; I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, or a better friend.
Meghan’s thoughtful gift got me thinking about what book I would give a friend who came out to me, or was newly out. I’ve read a lot of LGBTQ+ books, but there are a specific few that come to mind.