Jennifer Chrisler’s Coming Out Story on

The Advocate is featuring coming out stories of LGBT
notables this week in honor of National Coming Out Day, this
Saturday, October 11. Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of
Family Equality Council, shared her story on “Day 2” of the series this past Wednesday:

“I came out the first time
in 1990 at Smith College. I did the requisite coming out things —
cut my hair short, bought a leather jacket, told my mother, went
dancing, saw the Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge, and started
playing bridge at the student center (which was a uniquely Smith
coming out thing to do).

Little did I realize that
seven years after coming out, I’d be back in the closet again,
dating a Massachusetts State Senator and diving for cover if I was
at her house and someone knocked on the door (and I mean that

My spouse,
Cheryl Jacques, was elected in 1992 — a not so friendly time for
openly gay candidates. So she hid her sexual orientation during her
first run for office. And she kept on hiding it, after we started
dating, after we moved in together, even while we were talking
about the idea of having and raising children together.

But in June 2000, budget
cuts were threatening to eliminate spending on teen suicide
prevention aimed specifically at LGBT youth. And she courageously
recognized how important being an out lesbian Senator in
Massachusetts could offer some small source of support for the many
LGBT youth across the state. Together we told the media our story,
weathered the small attacks and enjoyed the huge outpouring of

The rest of our story has
been a somewhat open book — sometimes for the good and sometimes
not to our liking. But we always remain true to ourselves and to
our now 6-year-old twins, because pride in who you are is one of
the most important lessons you can teach your children.”