Coming Out

By Mandy Horan

I dance in Las Vegas where, like many other cities it is not looked upon as taboo. Many of the girls I know do it part time because the money is fantastic and a lot of them are going to school or already have other careers. I only dance part time and keep myself busy as a stage manager for one of the largest production shows on the strip and recently took the DancerWealth course and became a member. Dancing has brought many amazing opportunities my way, especially after enrolling in the DancerWealth course over a year ago. I was able to buy my first home with no financial help from my parents, I was interviewed by a local radio station and Maxim magazine. I wanted to be able to share some of these experiences with my family and I didn’t know if my mom would understand or accept. I struggled with the decision of how, when, and if I should tell her. Finally I decided not to.

I started dancing full time about 3 years ago when I was 24. At that time I never thought I would have made a decision on whether or not to tell my family about dancing. In fact I believed that the issue wouldn’t come up and it would be something I could keep to myself. I told the little white lie that many dancers tell their parents “I’m a cocktail waitress at a gentlemens’ club” My belief was that there was no reason for them to know the truth. My parents are two extremely different people with very different view point s of sex and sexuality. I always knew in my heart that it would be easier to tell my dad than it would be to tell my mom if the issue ever came up. I’m very open with my friends about my dancing and a lot of people I work with at the show know that I dance part time (fortunately I work for a very open minded company in an open minded city) My family on the other hand may not accept it the same way.

Here are a few suggestion to help you make the decision on whether or not to tell family members or friends.

Figure out their perceptions on the industry

When I told my parents I was a cocktail waitress my dad was curious about the type of place I worked. He wanted to know “Is it a full nude club or just topless because the full nude ones don’t serve liquor” My mom on the other hand had some advice for me: “Don’t let those dirty old men stick their hands down your pants. It was fairly clear to me early on that my mom wouldn’t be as accepting if I told her I wasn’t really a waitress.

Determine why you feel it is something you want to tell them

If it is only to make yourself feel better I would strongly advise against it. Ask yourself “What good will come of this?” If the answer is that it will relieve a burden from your shoulders then it may not be the right time to share. On the other hand if it could strengthen the relationship then go for it! For me, no good would come if I told my mom. She would be hurt, disappointed, and even embarrassed. With all the stereotypes, I couldn’t imagine telling her friends that her daughter is a dancer. It wasn’t worth it to me to hurt my mom like that, I would rather have to deal with the guilt from my white lies than disappoint her.

Be prepared to be wrong

I told my aunt on my dads side thinking that she would accept it and understand. Her perception of a gentlemens’ club is not exactly what I do. She thought I was one step away from prostitution and drugs: two things I have never even been close to!! She told me how upset and worried she is about me. She requested time to let it sink in and explained there is a generation gap. Her reaction was what I imagined my mom’s would be-tears and concern.

If you are caught in a lie

One of my concerns now is that half of my family knows I dance and the other half doesn’t! If my mom finds out from someone else she will be hurt one because I am dancing and two, because of the lies. My question to her will be “Would it have made it better if you knew 3, 6 or 12 months ago?” The answer will be no which is the reason I am choosing not to tell her, going back to “What good will come of this?” The time may come later when I decide I may want to tell her and she may surprise me by not being as upset as I imagine. Until then it is something I will continue to keep from her.