Why my coming out was like the YA novel Divergent

DivergentI just finished reading Divergent, a young adult novel written by Veronica Roth.  It was sort of a cross between The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

To summarize, Divergent is a novel about a dystopian society in Chicago whose citizens are members of one of five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite.  Each faction is named for a human virtue.  At age 16, students undergo an aptitude test and are told the faction that they are best suited for (think Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter books).  However, the final choice belongs to the students and they reveal their decisions in a big ceremony that reminded me of the reaping ceremony in The Hunger Games.

Here’s the catch: If a student selects a faction that differs from the faction of his or her family, he or she can only have contact with family members once a year on visiting day.  It’s faction over family in this story.

The beginning of the book reminded me of my coming out.


Are you certain I’m Gryffindor and not Sapphos?

When I came out, there was no Sorting Hat, although that would have been cool.

From the look of that flannel shirt and those sturdy shoes, you must belong to the House of Sapphos.  

Or, aptitude test.

You have racked up a perfect score for the faction Lesbian, a tribe of women with a fondness for potlucks, the classic TV series Xena: Warrior  Princess and cats.

But at a certain point, I came out and chose to live my life as an out lesbian.  The lesbian part wasn’t a choice, but I did have a say in whether I would stay in the closet or not.  By choosing to live my life openly, I strayed from the path that my parents wanted me to take.  In some respects, we live in different worlds, different factions.

Back then, their faction would have been called something like Discrete or Shhhh.

There is no yearly visiting day, but more often than not, our visits come on holidays or birthdays or other special occasions.  I’ve learned that I need tall fences and well-marked boundaries to maintain our relationship.

As I look at my paperback cover of Divergent, I notice the book’s tag line for the first time: “One choice can transform you.”

Oh, Veronica Roth, how very true.


8 responses to “Why my coming out was like the YA novel Divergent

  1. But how do we sort the femmes into the house of Sapphos?

  2. Faction over family… interesting. I didn’t know that was what the story was about.

  3. Nice metaphor! I though it was a pretty good book myself 🙂

  4. WOW. Very interesting. And it definitely does take a lot of courage to be who you are and shape your own destiny, instead of taking the easy way out and doing what people expect of you.


    • Thanks for stopping by. Indeed, it does take courage — Dauntless, anyone? — to make those hard life choices. Following a path that someone else has already marked is much easier.

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