“For a long, long time, I really tried to be something I’m not, somebody who’s not gay. And I have to say it ruined my life in a lot of ways.” Kelly McGillis
There are many ways, subtle and not so subtle, that we hide who we really are. Covering up of our authentic selves can be deeply hurtful and keep us from growing and using our talents.
Being heterosexual, I don’t know what the experience of being closeted – or out – is really like. But coming out is described by many people as a crucial and liberating experience.
Kelly McGillis gained acclaim for her acting in such films as “Witness,” “Top Gun” and “The Accused.” In a “Girl Rock” video blog interview for the lesbian website SheWired.com, she said she was “done with the man thing” in terms of relationships, that what she is looking for is “definitely a woman.”
In a news story, McGillis says her disclosure was unplanned. “That woman asked me a question and I was at one of those moments in your life when you say, ‘Am I going to speak my truth or continue the facade?’ And I chose the truth.”
The article reports, “She told vlogger Jennifer Corday that she had long believed that God was punishing her for being gay.
“She said she used to believe that God’s retribution was behind her 1982 sexual assault. The experience led her to play an attorney in the 1988 film The Accused after first turning down the role of the rape victim because the memory of her own ordeal was still too raw (the part later went to Jodie Foster, who won an Oscar for her performance).
Search for your true self
“Because I had been sexually assaulted, and I was at the time with a woman, I thought I was being punished,” McGillis said. “And for a long, long time, I really tried to be something I’m not, somebody who’s not gay. And I have to say it ruined my life in a lot of ways. Denial of self was incredibly self-destructive, incredibly destructive. And I’m not willing, once again, to go back. I’m only willing today to move forward.”
[Quotes also used in my book The Creative Mind: Identity and Confidence.]
She talks about being authentic and self-accepting in other ways as well.
“I don’t color my hair,” she says with a laugh. “I haven’t had a face-lift. I had a boob job. I had it taken out. This has been an ongoing process for me about self-acceptance and self-love and celebrating who I am, what I am and where I am and what I’ve been, with wholeness and love and generosity of spirit. Because I have spent a great deal of my life not celebrating who I am.”
Embracing your fear
McGillis says “I think it’s about having the courage of being. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be what I think other people wanted me to be. And I think one of the great gifts of being older and being single is the fact that I get to really explore who I am and what it is that I want to do — not what I’m doing for others.”
A Juilliard graduate, lately “she found her best roles were on stage, particularly the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. She has begun studying theology and has counseled substance abusers in a women’s prison in Pennsylvania.”
“I don’t know in this part of my life if it’s going to be acting that I’m going to be able to do,” she says. “That’s not up to me. What is up to me is that I show up for my life with an open heart and an open mind and be ready to accept what comes my way with love.”
[From Kelly McGillis prepares for ‘The Little Foxes’ at Pasadena Playhouse, By Irene Lacher, Los Angeles Times May 17, 2009. Photo by Stefano Paltera.]
Rachel Maddow on the personal value of coming out
An openly gay political commentator, Rachel Maddow (who is a Rhodes scholar, by the way) has her own prime-time show on MSNBC.
She thinks her strong debating skills relate to coming out at an early age.
“You have to learn to survive and prosper in a hostile environment,” she said in an interview with AfterEllen.com.
“It’s kind of a talent that gay people bring to everything we do.”
[From AfterEllen.com post]
How we identify ourselves
Actor Tilda Swinton has commented, “I’m basically interested in identity, and I still find fascinating the question, How do we identify ourselves, and how do we settle into other people’s expectations for our identity?”
There are many ways we may experiment with different looks and behaviors to form our self-concept, and they are often related to social concepts of “female” versus “male.”
Actor, writer, director, producer Guinevere Turner says, “At 10, I tried to act like a boy so I could go fishing and not have to do dishes. At 15, I wept over a broken nail and feathered my hair until it hurt.
“At 21, desperate to be taken seriously as a lesbian, I got a crew cut and tried to change my walk from a sashay to a saunter. At 24 I made a movie that proclaimed me ‘dyke’ once and for all, and now I am a girly girl with the innards of a truck driver… I’m a bad girl in good girl’s clothing.”
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Recognizing self-limiting beliefs
Morty Lefkoe has developed programs for making belief changes to improve our emotions, behavior and self concept.
In his article How to eliminate upsets and suffering from your life, he refers to how much impact our sense of identity has.
“As soon as you get, not merely as a concept but deep down, that you aren’t your beliefs, feelings or behavior – you are the creator of them all – you will be able to observe your ‘upset’ and not be run by it. Who you think you are can suffer; who you really are can’t.”
His ReCreate Your Life program has a free offer to change a belief.
Self-esteem / self concept resources – programs, books, articles.