What is normal?


Imagine that all humans were produced on a production line of various human production factories around the world.  Would all of the non-heterosexuals just be plucked right off the conveyor belt and tossed into a pile labeled defects?

Most of us, gay or not, are raised to believe that non-heterosexuals are some sort of alternate human design (the design without the standard human feature known as heterosexuality).  And this design is considered a deviation from the “normal” human design, which suggests that non-heterosexuals are defective.  Or worse yet, NOT NORMAL.

As far as I can tell, normal is actually a self-appointed status.  Not surprisingly, there are many self-appointed-”normal” people with whom my views differ.  It doesn’t matter that I think these folks are not my kind of normal because they get to define for themselves what normal is.  Furthermore, these self-appointed representatives of normal are not looking for the approval of non-heterosexuals for their beliefs anyway!  Imagine that – they don’t care what I think.  What a novel idea.

Imagine that one day something unexpected happens in this pile of defective humans.  One brave defective human being stands up, brushing herself off, and she climbs back up on that conveyor belt. She doesn’t ask.  She doesn’t sneak.  And she doesn’t force her way there either.  She stands up confidently, moves toward the production belt, and steps back on with grace and dignity.

After all, is it really normal to pretend we are something we are not?  Are we really defective, or are we just acting like it because others decided we are?

Upon seeing this brave woman reenter the world of humans with such confidence and pride, others begin to follow suit.

Is it normal to silence our truth so that other’s are not uncomfortable by the reality of who we are?  Is it normal to pretend that who we love is really not an important part of who we are?

After hundreds of thousands of men and women begin brushing themselves off and steadily placing themselves back on the conveyor belt of life, the powers that be begin to realize what is happening, and in a moment of brilliance they decide, “We need these humans on the production line with the others.”  Realizing, “While they are different than we had expected, it turns out there’s nothing functionally wrong with them, and because there are so many of them – they too can find happiness and joy in this life by partnering with each other!”  

This brilliant discovery propels this production company into the highest tech, most elite human production company around – with human production rates at least 10% greater than their competitors.  Before long, other production companies catch on, and soon, what once was considered a defect, is now embraced as business as usual.  All because of one brave woman who stood up, brushed herself off, and entered the conveyor belt of life with confidence, grace, and dignity. To the extent that we believe we are not “normal,” we are not. 

To the extent that we believe we ARE ”normal,” we are.  No one else can determine this for us, they can only determine for themselves what is normal and then project it to the world around them.  Our sense of normalcy, of wholeness and self-respect, is a function of how we see ourselves, not how others see us. 

Our feelings of self-worth and self-confidence grow from deep inside us where our truth resides.

We can not strengthen our feelings of self-worth by pandering to another’s truth.  We will instead strengthen their self-worth at our expense! We must find our own truth, whatever that is, however that looks, and we will be strengthened by the expression of this truth.

If you do not believe you are normal, who is going to?  If you do not believe your relationship is normal, who is going to?  If you apologize for who you are, what you are, and the relationship you are in, who is going to view it as something deserving of respect and support?  We’ve got to first take responsibility for how we treat our own relationship and figure out how to improve ourselves before turning our lens to others and holding them responsible for how we feel about ourselves.

Now brush yourself off and get back on that conveyor belt of life where you belong!


Read more about the dangers of labels to our mental health.

Speaking of normal, are you kiki? I am.


Coming Out

Rarely do I speak the words, “I am gay (or lesbian).” Although very early in my being out process, I attempted this strategy at work, rather unsuccessfully. This happened years ago when gay marriage was but a blip on the radar screen.

I was working at a private psychiatric hospital and it was the end of a very long workday. I walked my last client out to the lobby, and, after saying goodbye, the receptionist said I had a personal call waiting. She asked if I wanted the call transferred to my office, or if I wanted to take it there at the front desk. I opted to take the call right there in the lobby. After transferring the call, she picked up her Bible and started reading again – which is how she spent her time between calls.

The call was brief. I talked about what time I’d be home, what I wanted to do for dinner, then I hung up the phone.

The receptionist, with whom I had never had much communication, turned to me and said, “You’re married, right, Michele?” And I casually replied, “Nope, not married.” So she followed up with, “Well, you’re engaged, aren’t you?” To which I again replied, “Nope, not engaged either.” Finally she gives up and innocently said, “Well, why did I think that?” And as nonchalantly as I had replied to the questions before, I said, “I’m not sure why, either, because I’m gay.”

To my surprise, she burst into laughter, only pausing long enough to respond with a playful, “You’re so funny, you’re always joking!” We both smiled and I headed back to my office.

As I tried out various strategies for revealing the truth about my life and my relationships, I discovered that it was much easier (and often more fun) to stop working so hard to break things down for other people. Over time I just stopped censoring anything (within reason!) that I said about my relationship, my partner, and all of the usual social topics shared with friends, acquaintances, family, and even strangers. If I’m talking about my partner, I say, “my partner” and I use the pronoun “she.” There – I’m out. It’s that easy.

If, for example, I need to hire a service person to fix my toilet, I will indicate that I may not be there, but I reference my partner, saying, “she will be when you arrive.” I don’t pause for permission or acceptance, and I don’t invite comments or feedback about my sexual orientation either. To do so would indicate that it matters to me what the plumber (not Joe) thinks about my relationship status – I’ve invited him to my house to fix my toilet, not to judge my relationship. I will not pretend I have a husband or that I am single so that the plumber feels more comfortable. Sadly, there was a time I would have, though.


I vote we raise the bar. Instead of striving to come out, let’s be more specific about this – let’s set our sights on the never ending process of being out.