In the GLBTQ community, a “late bloomer” refers to individuals who come out later in life. They have often had heterosexual relationships, sometimes long-term, but have come to accept their true reality and have made the decision to embrace it. Some late bloomers never pursue a heterosexual relationship but instead choose celibacy until they come out.
I recently met a woman in our community who is just in the process of coming out. She is on the cusp of her 60th birthday and has made the decision to embrace this aspect of herself that she has kept hidden for the majority of her adult life.
I won’t use her name for this article, but will refer to her as “B”. I spoke to her recently about this new journey she is on; about how, as a mother with grown children and recently a grandmother, she came to this point where she felt it was still relevant to explore her homosexuality.
I asked B when it was that she realized her orientation and she said it had always been there from her teen years – but, because of generational and family influences, she never felt she could explore that side of herself and instead did what was expected of her and married a man and started a family.
B has had three husbands and now feels that the time has come to be authentic about who she really is.
B said that there are challenges to coming out at this point in her life. A big one is legitimacy within the straight and gay community. People wonder, Why now? Why bother? The short, easy answer is authenticity and coming to terms with who she is, which she said has been a hugely empowering but confusing process.
She spoke of feeling as if the choice was really not within her control. This process just happened: circumstances presented that made this happen without much conscious decision-making on her part.
There was a feeling of it being meant to be. Another challenge is meeting someone. Coming out in a small place like the Yukon presents challenges for most and even more so when you are older.
B stated that she is out to most people except for family. She has yet to tell her children and the rest of her extended family, and at this point she is not sure she will bother. If she does get into a relationship, then she will have to confront the issue at that point.
Coming out is a hugely personal journey, and everyone’s experience is different. Often the hardest people to tell are family.
For the person who is coming out, there is a need to feel safe. Most often a person will choose someone who they know will be supportive. B chose a lesbian friend to be the first one she told. She said it was a positive experience and thus far she has found everyone’s reaction to be supportive.
B has begun to explore the gay community in Whitehorse and to attend GLBTQ functions. Although she is approaching her sixth decade of life, she is proof that it is never too late to change and to accept one’s authentic self.