Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Coming Out Of The Pole Closet To Family & Colleagues

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We’ve all been there and if you haven’t been there yet, you probably will be soon enough. It starts out innocently. A friend talks you into a pole dancing class or maybe you see a pole dancing segment on Oprah or you catch a video on YouTube and think “Hmm that looks like fun!”  So you sign up for classes and from your first Fireman Spin you’re hooked. The yoga outfits you started wearing during your pole journey have long since been replaced by tiny little shorts and glittery tops. Shoes are bought, many shoes – the higher the better. It’s getting harder and harder to explain all of your bruises to your family. You spend way too much time on YouTube watching videos, making videos, taking photos. Pole becomes a huge part of your life and you’re proud of your accomplishments. Much like a great boyfriend or girlfriend, you want to show it off, put it out there, share pole with everyone! But should you and just how do you go about doing it? I personally think you should, if your circumstances and lifestyle can support it. So when and how is the best time to come out of the pole closet to your family and co-workers?

Sharing a secret with someone can be extremely freeing – yet extremely difficult as well, so I always try to look at my motivation for wanting to open up in the first place. Basically I use what I call the 4W System.

WHY

Establish why you want to share with Jenny that you think her husband is cheating on her, why put your pole video on YouTube, why tell that secret about so-and-so, why are you talking about your hobby outside of work to the other teachers at your school.

What is truly the reason? Is it for shock value or for information? There have been times I have shared something with someone and if I take a really hard look at the situation, I can see that I may have acted out of my own insecurities.  Do you want to tell your family and coworkers about your pole journey because feel you are suppressing a large part of who you are?  Do you already share your other hobbies with them as well? Is it because you are proud of your accomplishments or maybe you’re afraid they will find out on their own? Whatever it may be, it’s really important to identify your motivation as it will shape the rest of your experience.

WHO

Okay so you’ve thought long and hard about the WHY’s and you realize that you really want to be able to share your pole accomplishments with your close friends at work and your family. Maybe you have a competition coming up and would really love to have their support. Think about who really needs to know and the most realistic reactions to your sharing. If we are using pole dancing as our example, we have to remember as much as we love the dance and the sport, other might not feel that way. Which doesn’t mean you should replace “I’m taking Pole Dancing classes” with “I’m Taking Zumba classes”.  It just means you need to be aware that realistically no matter how progressive your family or friends are, there is probably someone in your group who is not on board with pole. I think it’s really important to be able to read your audience. Are you telling your boss or contemporary in the office, sharing with your cool, progressive mom or your extremely uptight grandmother? Establish who you want to share with and what you think their reactions will be because we are going to try to preempt any negativity.

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WHAT

What do you want and what do you do if things don’t go that way?

Establish what you want the end result to be. How do you want each person you are sharing with to react or not react? I think it’s important to realize that you can be your true and authentic self without sharing every bit of “you” with the entire world. So what exactly are you going to tell them, share with them, show them? I like the layered approach to my reveals. Not everyone needs to know everything about me. They don’t all need to know where I work, if I have a blog, if I have a studio etc. I don’t share all parts of myself with everyone. Certain people get certain information. The trick to layering is realizing that people talk, people gossip. It happens. Make sure to deflect negative reactions by structuring your layers of information.

WAY

Once you have asked yourself all of the above questions you have to figure out how to tell people. For me this is always the hardest and most important aspect of sharing my pole world with others. I think how you go about sharing your journey can really alleviate some of the issues that come up when telling others about pole.  I like to be extremely direct but also nonchalant. I will share a few pictures of me but no videos.  I’m direct but I act as if it’s no big deal. “Oh I love pole didn’t you know I have an Aerial/Pole Studio?” I like to let people know before they find out on their own.  I’ve found that once it’s out there, there is less to gossip about.  But that’s my approach and it may not necessarily yours. Obviously the approach is going to be different for different people depending on careers, geographical areas, ages, religious backgrounds etc. For people with careers that could be adversely affected by being known as a pole dancer think long and hard about who you tell. Make sure you know your company’s policies and “moral” climate.  I would keep my online photo and video presence to a minimum if you work somewhere where pole dancing might become an “issue”. I know this may not be the most popular stance but we need to acknowledge that our careers are important and the internet is forever. For family members or friends who have issues with the perceived sexual or sensual aspect of poling try showing them some non-sensual videos. You can always make a cute video to share with your friends and family. Also let them know while pole is your love it doesn’t have to be theirs. If your family feels that way, respect their feelings and just reveal less to them about that part of your life. Sometimes our love of pole is so all encompassing we forget not everyone is as fanatical as we are. We know pole is the best thing ever – even if everyone else doesn’t.

One of my best friends is obsessed with country music, which I hate.  We don’t talk country or at least I try not to talk to much country with her. Every once in a while she will invite me to a country concert and I always pass. We’re still great friends but if she pushed her crazy country music obsession on me all the time it would make me nuts! Agree to disagree on certain things and don’t feel the need to convert everyone.

Start slowly and tell one or two close people at first. You would be amazed how many people secretly want to try pole dancing but just need a little encouragement from a friend. I’ve also found that if I actually give people a chance to digest it, that sometimes sharing my pole world isn’t as scary as I thought it might be. Sometimes people can pleasantly surprise you.

In the end there’s no perfect equation but hopefully by really distilling down your motivations you will be able to navigate the waters of “coming out” a little easier.

Love & Glitter

*p.s. I would love to hear how everyone shared pole dancing with their loved ones and coworkers and what their reactions have been!

**previously on Bad Kitty USA News