I shared this for the first time the day I came out as non-binary on a random newsletter platform I don’t use any more. So I’m sharing my non-binary coming out story again.
In case you missed it.
In case I forget it.
For my memories. For history. For me, because today I’m so proud of this person. (Also, if you subscribe you won’t miss anything.)
I’ve spent so much time telling myself to be brave for today. I can’t believe I’m even doing this. I kept going back and forth, trying to find a fine line between letting people in and protecting my heart. I wondered if today is walking too fine of a line.
But here we are. There’s no turning back now.
Ok, let me back up. I want to tell you about the day I came out the first time. At 16, I fell head over heels in love with my friend. It did not work out for a million reasons I’m not going to detail here – the most significant being she was straight.
At that age, I didn’t know what a lesbian was. Watching the movie Philadelphia was the first time I had words for this feeling every time I was around certain girls. Acknowledging that feeling out loud was so much more, though. Growing up in a strict, Catholic, military family – I knew being gay was wrong. I don’t know that I 100% even understood what it was. I just understood that it was a bad thing to be.
I spent weeks thinking about what I might say to my mom. I was so scared. Then, I decided I would be brave. Not sure why or what courage I summoned, but I was determined to have this conversation. So that night, I asked my mom if we could talk. She laid on my bed casually with both hands behind her head. “What’s up?” I felt nothing close to casual. I felt like the walls were caving in. Heart racing, palms sweating, tears starting to well in my eyes. I can’t even imagine what my military accountant mother was thinking. She’s not exactly a high EQ person.
After the most prolonged pause of my life, I spoke. “I don’t want you to hate me.” I said it over and over until I could barely breathe. Then, finally: “I’m gay.” Without flinching or even moving from this oh-so-relaxed position, she said, “I know. It’s ok.” 100% unfazed.
That wasn’t the case with the rest of my family. The frustration and hurt I experienced at 16 convinced me I couldn’t be who I am with the rest of the world. So after I came out, I immediately went back in the closet until I fell in love and felt brave enough to love out loud at 21.
Today I’ll be brave again.
For most of my life, I’ve felt like I wasn’t enough of anything. I was a masculine girl or a feminine guy depending on the angle you looked at me. In the book Untamed, Glennon Doyle describes it as cups – the boy cup, the girl cup, the gay cup, the straight cup. I spent so much time trying to figure out which cup I belonged in.
What she wrote next was a life-changing moment for me. She said, “why are we making cups when we are the water?” Why was I trying to fit into cups when I can just be me?
So here it is. I am non-binary. For me, that means I’m just a good human. Not a man. Not a woman. A human that wants to help every person they can. A human that wants to be seen and respected just like everyone else. I use they/them pronouns, and I’m just like you.
I don’t know what your brain is doing. Maybe you have questions. If so, ask. I’m a safe place. I won’t promise all the answers, though. I’m still learning, and I hope you’ll be willing to learn with me. If you don’t know what to say, I would most appreciate a reaction from you that’s much like my mother’s all those years ago – a love unfazed.
I also hope you’ll celebrate with me – that this truth isn’t coming out between choked sobs. I’m celebrating the bravery I’ve built up over 20 years that has made me feel ready to be seen in a world I’ve spent forever trying to fit into. That’s unquestionably dessert worthy if you ask me.
Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.