Many thousands of years ago, at a trendy seaside resort in the Middle East, a crowded beach is filled with the typical mix of tourists trying to get out of the heat, families having a summer vacation gathering– dad busy trying to figure out how to light the charcoal briquets *new and improved formula from the finest Lebanese Cedar!* but the wind is making it impossible to light.
The children splash in the water apparently irritating a nearby ancient “Influencer” who is insisting that her Fiance crop the kids out of the papyrus drawing he’s making of her “travel series” while making sure to get her good side.
Somebody is playing a drum waaaaaaaaaay too loudly.
Somebody else is smoking illicit substances nearby. Dad hopes the kids won’t notice.
A man with headphones and a metal detector ignores everyone while he looks for lost jewelry– yes, he is out of place– he accidentally stepped into a wormhole that launched him into the past. Although he hasn’t noticed. He has absolutely nothing to do with this story, but it’s important to note: just because it doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Point being it’s a wonderful, typical day, in AncientLand.
Dad tries lighting the charcoal for the zillionth time.
Behind him, the kids have stopped splashing in the water… their attention drawn away from shore.
Fiance is trying his best to gently edit the silhouette of Influencer who poses in Downward Dog position with her back to the waves. She, too, doesn’t notice that the kids have gone quiet.
A hundred yards out amidst the wave tops and white caps, a darkness from below seems to be… moving this way…
The drums beat louder. The illicit smoke waftification intensifies. Dad finally gets a small flame to catch on the twisted up front page of the Nineveh Times he’s using as kindling. He seems very pleased with himself and doesn’t notice the darkness under the water is now moving with such force and speed it’s creating its own wake.
The children point and try to wave. Dad nurses his flame as it licks the corner of a briquette and… proceeds to grow into a stronger flame now touching the rest of the pile! Haha!
The dark mass is heading directly for shore. It’s beginning to join the wave that’s about to crash upon the shoreline forming a bulge in the wave.
Fiancee looks up from his InstaScroll Post. He yells for Influencer to run. She can’t hear him because the Drummer really is being an ass.
You know those nature documentaries where the orca swims straight at the beach and is enveloped in the surface tension of a giant water bubble and the unsuspecting seal that’s about to be eaten has no idea what’s happening until it’s too late?
That’s Dad. Currently bragging to Mom that the pile of charcoal has finally caught fire and that he, in all his masculine splendor has managed to use his cunning and expertise to make fire to feed the family. BEHOLD!
It’s at this precise moment– not one moment sooner or later– precisely at God’s Perfect Timing™ that a sickly looking whale bursts from the wave and plows straight thru the children (sorry kids) carving out a trench in the beach right behind dad spraying sand on EVERYONE and then–
BLORPS THE FUCK ALL OVER DAD AND HIS MANLY FIRE.
A metric ton of Blorp.
The weight of Jonah knocking into Dad sends his wine goblet flying thru air… it hits Drummer… Smoking Guy laughs… Fiancee now turns to hurriedly document this new InstaScroll opportunity much to Influencer’s dismay…
The whale farts, shakes in one final violent spasm, and dies.
And then it explodes.
There is a moment before the remnants of the whale begin their downward trajectory, a mere moment before the dulcet tone of Thom Yorke singing “gravity aaaaaallllwaaaaaaaaaays wins”… where everyone on the beach braces for impact. Mom covers the kids. Dad the fire. Influencer the papyrus. Everybody covers up.
But not Jonah. He just stands there.
What’s the point.
Of course the whale exploded.
Because… of course it did.
That’s how every step of this godawful journey is going to be.
And then… cue Thom Yorke. Gravity wins.
And all the pieces of whale return to earth.
Every square inch of beach is now covered in a minimum of 3-4 inches of putrid whale carnage. One of the kids is buried under a half a lung.
The whole beach is shook. Staring. Pissed.
A whale just puked up a… dude.
And a tire.
And 50,000 half digested fish. Which are now currently– uh, being worn by Dad and Whale Dude. And the now extinguished fire.
The stench. The viscera. The embarrassment– I mentioned this was a pricey resort right? They. Do. Not. Like. Making. A. Scene.
And now the wind is blowing. And sand is sticking to everything.
And this dude– somehow getting outside the whale is even worse than being inside. This has further made his crappy situation even more repugnant than it already was before. This seems perpetually unfair to our poor hero.
No one wants to look at him. But they also can’t stop looking at him.
Except Mom. Mom’s pissed that the kids are now crying from being knocked over by the whale. She wants dad to sue Jonah. The whale. The ocean.
And like… nobody is even asking this dude if he’s okay or offering him a towel.
Dude’s exposed. He’s a mess. And nobody is gonna help this guy– because he smells like whale vomit and just ruined their day. And besides, he looks mostly fine anyway, whatever, just ignore him.
Jonah… sensing absolutely nobody gives a crap about his plight, THEN begins the undignified walk of shame to Fucking Nineveh. The sun is setting. There will be packs of wild animals who will smell the scent of rotting fish. Best get moving now. No time to waste. Get this over with.
And then, right at his lowest moment… there’s an odd bleeeeeeeeeeeeep.
It’s the metal detector guy from the future.
And his metal detector is hovering over Jonah’s foot. Because it’s picking up the signal of the rusty metal nail that Jonah just stepped on and is pressing up thru the bottom of his foot.
Metal Detector Guy is not interested in rusty nails. He moves on.
Jonah just starts… limping. The tetanus-inducing nail being driven further into his foot with each awkward, painful, gooey step.
Because of course that’s how it’s gonna happen.
That’s what “Out” feels like.
It’s messy. Unpleasant usually. Dangerous sometimes. And lonely.
Sometime during the aughts, I was taking a class to become a Peer-to-Peer Teacher for NAMI. There were 8-10 of us taking the class and at one point the conversation gets around to the concept of “Out”.
Quick side note: In prepping for this piece I was torn between definitions of “out”. And one of the main dictionaries lists 68 different and unique definitions of the word “out” and it was literally the very last one listed– interesting that this was literally the very last consideration of defining the word.
Now, this is a purely anecdotal instance that occurred in my life. But there were 8-10 of us at this NAMI Peer-to-Peer training and as we were working our way around the table describing our “Outing” experiences one of the women spoke up, “It was easier for me to come out as gay then to come out as mentally ill.”
The words were hardly out of her mouth before a dude at the other end of the table emphatically agreed, “That’s what it was like for me too! Same. Exact. Experience!”
And we listened for a good 10-15 minutes as 100% of the openly LGBT members of the room recounted the commonalities of their experience. This is NOT to say outing oneself in LGBT space is safe or easy. That was their whole point. Everyone knows how awful and dangerous and scary it is to out oneself when you’re LGBT. Our culture understands this. These people were trying to educate the rest of the room how much worse of an experience it was with M.I.
Now, I’m not interested in Grievance Olympics. But, when asked why they both felt that was the case the answer was identical: support structure.
At least in the LGBT world there was a strong enough internal community that had their back when their Fucking Evangelical families threw them out and disowned them. They at least had SOMEBODY to help them thru the grief and pain and suffering. And that no such parallel existed for the NAMI crowd. When mentally ill people do it… literally no one ever cares. Ever. Never.
There are no parades for us. Not. ever.
Perhaps those were the only two LGBT people in human history who had that experience, I certainly am not trying to make any kind of claim on behalf of that community. But, I suspect there was a large truth there.
For this kind of “outing”… it’s extremely, extremely lonely. Messy. And lonely.
Like being covered in whale vomit at a bougie resort.
I don’t fully know how this story will unroll. I have a pretty good idea, but the delivery is still somewhat obscure in terms of structure and how much outing I want there to be. It’s a whale of a creative problem.
But, it’s already taking a toll on me. I don’t say this for sympathy, just information. One of the things I will do here is be honest about this process and journey and the effect it has on me.
Been having more trouble than usual sleeping. Grumpy. Tired. Snapping at people. My executive function is compromised and I’m forgetting stuff, dropping things, having nightmares. Like… this shit is NOT fun to talk and think about. It’s trauma to talk about trauma. A LOT of thoughts I’ve tucked away for decades flooding back. Spent years working on processing this or that memory away.
It’s so much more comfortable to not do this. And I have literally suffered enough already.
But then, this weekend, a former President elected by Fucking Evangelicals said something about Civil War. Last weekend… white supremacist mass shooting. This weekend, Civil War.
And I haven’t seen a single Fucking Evangelical say one word to denounce it on any platform I look at.
Keep in mind for those of us who are making efforts to speak out.
There’s a cost.
It is not small or insignificant.
But there is a cost…
…That your silent behavior of cowardice and complicity is imposing on others.
Fucking Ninev-angelicals. Y’all suck.