On Coming Out (again and again)

Coming out is an ongoing process. While there will most likely be a definitive point in one’s life in which they will decide to come out to many of their family and friends, it doesn’t just stop there. There is the ever-present assumption that any given person is straight until otherwise specified, and it is a very harmful ideology to LGB youth. Many kids realize their same-sex attraction or crushes on those of the same-sex at an early age, but they don’t come out right then and there because they are constantly spoon fed the rhetoric that boys like girls and girls like boys, and that’s just the way it is. Growing up confined to these gender expectations can be quite a struggle for someone who is questioning their sexuality. I spent a majority of my childhood feeling like an outcast and I couldn’t exactly pinpoint why. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I slowly began to come to terms with my sexual orientation.

In one of my previous posts, Why Queer Representation Actually Matters, I explain how media has a huge influence on societal customs and expectations. When I was growing up, there were absolutely no same-sex couples on T.V. shows or movies. They always generally concluded with the guy getting the girl. Misogyny aside, this enforces how children form opinions about the world around them. If you tell a young kid that donuts are magical, they’ll most likely believe you because they don’t even think to question adults or authority figures. They can’t quite comprehend that there could be possible bias or untruth in what their parents tell them. They probably don’t even know what bias is. And many homosexual and bisexual(pansexual) children spend far too long attempting to unravel the societal norms that they have been forced to assume.

So when one finally comes out, it’s not like some major news announcement to the world. That may be the case for celebrities, but ordinary citizens find that coming out never really ends. Coworkers or new friends will ask you if you have a significant other of the opposite sex, and you’ll just want to say no and leave it at that, in fear that their response will be negative. However, it is also quite freeing to break down that barrier and to not feel like you have to completely avoid talking about that aspect of your life. It’s not about parading around town with a rainbow stamped on your forehead, (with the exception of Pride) but rather living as your authentic self. And in order to live authentically, you will most likely need to inform the people in your life of who you really are. It is certainly not easy, but one must hope for the best. And yes, it does get better.

 

 

*I am leaving out the T in LGBT simply because that has to do with gender identity rather than sexual orientation. I promise this was not meant to exclude anyone.

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92 thoughts on “On Coming Out (again and again)

  1. This is so true. Every new job, every new person, new health care providers, etc., etc., etc…Getting past that heavy weight in the pit of my stomach each time I am forced to disclose my truth or lie to save the trouble of explaining AGAIN. Thanks for your honest essay here. Hopefully it will help others understand. 🙂

  2. Good read, it’s a wonder in this day and age why people define a person by theor realationships and not the wounderful person they are instead which seems to make more sense then agian i ussualy get accused of being backwardly wired.

  3. well said. I’m glad you’re as comfortable as you are in discussing this – i hope you are able to be as comfortable in real life. ?? I hope your situation is that safe and accepting.

    my LGB friends have struggled with this. One friend has a transgender daughter of eight years who is having real problems with anger and depression as a result of her situation, maltreatment by others, and lack of public acceptance in her school and community. it’s been difficult. and I’m saying this about her because I know it must be equally difficult for the LGB people.

    I’m glad I dropped over and read. good post!

    j.

  4. A very interesting post.

    Sadly the ‘gender identity’ thing is still so strong, People coming out and speaking out as you have done will make a world of difference (finally).

  5. I really appreciate your post. It gives me insight on how difficult the process is and what those around me have to deal with at times. It is good to get perspective and I am happy you have a voice for it.

  6. Good post. As a queer woman myself, I have too many times come across this situation of whether to come out or not: to my *not-so-close* friends, extended family, co-workers, etc. Especially if the topic of relationships, sexual orientation, or the LGB community is brought up.

    For instance, I have a friend (who didn’t know that I was queer) who had brought up the topic of “gaydar” last week, and I wasn’t quite agreeing with what he was saying about “knowing if one is gay”by having gaydar. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump in and say anything, without having to “expose myself” as queer. I wasn’t ready to come out yet at that time, and so I was in a dilemma. Ah, the struggle!

  7. I have had a lifetime of the experiences you describe. I spent my teen years mostly in the ’70s so there were precious few role models. I didn’t actually come out as gay until the late ’80s so it took awhile. Now I am coming out all over again as Agender/Non-binary gender identified. The local Trans* community has been great but it’s thrown old friends for a bit of a loop. So yes,, coming out is a lifetime process for many and when you find yourself at another closet door it can be quite an experience!

  8. I find it strange how we should love people for who we are yet we continue to define who we are by our tendencies and preferences when who we are is so much more.. if it’s really about who you are you don’t need a label or a coming out you simply keep your private life to your self and those closest to you.. you can’t curse the whole world and hope for a friend or “reject reality” and then want something from anyone.. spitting in the wind

  9. I remember toward the end of my freshman year of college, when I was headed to some random summer job, having that realization that you don’t just come out once, you have to do it throughout your life. It is a pretty depressing revelation.

      • I’m 68, so from my perspective it’s gotten easier over the years. People are less likely to be thrown by it, so coming out (again and again) takes less emotional energy than it used to. The other day when someone said “he,” meaning my partner, I said “she,” the woman said “sorry, she,” and on we went–no big deal. Compare that to–oh, must’ve been some 30 years ago when I was standing around awkwardly with someone at a reception and he was trying to make conversation–as we all were. He asked if I was married–not, I’d like to think, coming on to me, just for something to say. I said, “I’m a dyke.” Or maybe I said “lesbian.” It doesn’t matter. He said, “That doesn’t threaten me. That doesn’t threaten me at all,” and he and his glass of wine scurried off to find someone less threatening to talk to. It was way too funny to be an energy drain.

  10. Another great post on the topic of sexual orientation. It is quite sad how much stress and pain come not just from having to reject a universal label — the one applied via people assuming any given others are heterosexual — but from the fact that the label did not need to exist in the first place. If children weren’t subjected to so many expectations of what their lives should be like then they’d have far less confusion when the world fails to fit into the boxes their parents, society, etc supplied. I also like that you separated the T from LGB as I think the larger catchall label is another instance of trying to put multifarious life into little boxes. Everyone can have their own space and, to labour the metaphor somewhat, the space doesn’t need any boxes in it! Thanks, Daniel

  11. I think it’s amazing that so many people still feel the need to pry when they are just getting to know someone. I try to take people as they are, and let them tell me what they want about themselves whenever they feel like doing so. I remember living in a place that was hostile toward people who held my religious views, and being asked within five minutes of shaking hands with every new person I met, “So what church do you belong to?” I’ve long since moved away from there, and now live in a place where religion is simply a topic that isn’t brought up unless with close friends or family members … the difference is refreshing.

    • We likely grew up in a similar part of the country. I also encountered that growing up in the Bible Belt. I grew up Catholic but am not religious now. It amazed me that people would ask that question first before even asking your name. If you didn’t give the answer they wanted, they walked away. Simply amazing.

      • Oh, thankfully I didn’t grow up there – I would have gone utterly mad, had that been the case! It is really sad when people would rather get to know your church, or pry about who you might prefer to meet in your bedroom, than actually take the time to get to know you. I’m not sure if I would find it different, if these people didn’t automatically judge based on these criteria … I think there are still some things that don’t need to be asked within the first five minutes of meeting someone … but since these sorts of judgements take place anyway, there isn’t much reason for me to spend time speculating.

        It sounds, Jarrod, like you eventually moved away from where you grew up? Are things different where you now live? I guess the even bigger question would be, are you different, for having left where you grew up?

  12. When I was just starting my career out of college, I met a really great guy in a neighboring lab named Shawn. Shawn was a very attractive guy, probably about 15 years older than I was and was always surrounded by very attractive women. I envied Shawn because I wished women paid attention to me like that. He had a charming personality and a smile for everyone.

    One day, shortly after Christmas break, I asked Shawn how his holiday was.

    “Not good,” he informed me. “My boyfriend kicked me out of the house.”

    My face obviously showed surprise.

    “Oh, you didn’t know?” he asked.

    I was startled by both the revelation and the question.

    “Well I never thought about it, to be honest,” I told Shawn.

    “That’s okay,” he said with a laugh. “It is part of who I am but it doesn’t define me. It is not like I walk around with a card that says, “I’m here and I am queer” or anything like that.”

    I laughed too realizing he was obviously trying to put me at ease.

    That was over ten years ago and I still remember that conversation to this day. I never thought about Shawn, or anyone for that matter, being homosexual cause it never mattered to me. It isn’t something I judge a person on so I shouldn’t care.

    Prejudice against homosexuals is taught, just like racism. I didn’t grow up in a household with parents that taught me to hate homosexuals or condemn then. “You judge people on their character and how they treat others,” I can still hear my father say.

    Because of that, I never cared whether someone was homosexual or attempted to determine it. There is still a large struggle by that community for acceptance but my hope is that one day we will no longer need to announce to society that people are gay because no one will honestly care. It will just be part of that person but won’t define them.

    Best wishes!

  13. It seems that the quest for authenticity is one of the most difficult (if not the most difficult) endeavors in our society. The trauma of coming to terms with a sexual orientation that society tries to ignore or openly bash (emotionally and physically) is a prime example of this. Why people prefer the cookie cutter view of one’s community is sometimes so hard for me to comprehend.

  14. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    I found this informative on a topic I don’t know much about personally. Much of that has to do with my upbringing and the “Christian South” so I enjoy sharing these topics which were considered uncomfortable in my past. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please visit their blog.

  15. Yeah, great post. Sometimes realising what you have ahead of you feels like such a burden, it’s easier to ignore it and just let people assume. But that shouldn’t be the way it is

  16. Thanks, especially for your reflections on living authentically. I think that this is something that we all need to struggle with in some small way. LGBTQ folk have much to teach us in this…

  17. I still haven’t to this day been comfortable enough to reply with “no actually I’m gay” when asked if I have a girlfriend by someone. I simply say no. And then I feel like I’ve invalidated myself because I can’t openly express who I am.

  18. I wish we lived in a world it didn’t matter. Why does everything have to be assigned? Why can’t we just vibe with who we vibe with and be happy? Maybe we’re getting to the good part now? I love how you spoke about this.

  19. as a bisexual bigendered unschooling mom, i wait to see who my kids are instead of trying to influence them into what i want them to be (i want them to be themselves–so this is a paradox 🙂 i’m always surprised when they make overtly heterosexual assumptions about life. our culture has a long way to go. thanks for writing this.

  20. Reblogged this on Marci, Mental Health, & More and commented:
    Great post! “So when one finally comes out, it’s not like some major news announcement to the world. That may be the case for celebrities, but ordinary citizens find that coming out never really ends. Coworkers or new friends will ask you if you have a significant other of the opposite sex, and you’ll just want to say no and leave it at that, in fear that their response will be negative. However, it is also quite freeing to break down that barrier and to not feel like you have to completely avoid talking about that aspect of your life. It’s not about parading around town with a rainbow stamped on your forehead, (with the exception of Pride) but rather living as your authentic self. And in order to live authentically, you will most likely need to inform the people in your life of who you really are. It is certainly not easy, but one must hope for the best. And yes, it does get better.”

  21. Pingback: “I’m Here and I am Queer” | The Haunted Lullaby

  22. Thank you for writing and sharing this. Your post heavily resonates with me. We live in a culture that still assumes anyone that is cis is automatically straight. At work I’ve had to re-come out whenever we get a new person lol and it’s really annoying, because people will just assume im straight. I almost feel like sometimes people completely forget someone is gay and I’ve had to re-come out to people I already came out to because they actually “forgot”, I bring up a story about an ex-girlfriend or see a cute girl and everything loses their shit…..I look forward to the day when straightness is not assumed or forced upon us.

  23. That’s some excellent quality of writing – well done. And yes, I agree with everything you believe in. I was growing up in the world where boys like, liked girls and that’s just the way it is. I have family members who really don’t agree with same-sex relationships (including my parents). I’m not gay but I know a few friends who are gay or bisexual and I understand what it’s like. Yes, coming out is hard and it is challenging, but times are changing. I believe it won’t be very long until the world can fully accept same-sex relationships as it is a growing issue, thanks to the media, the performing arts industry and celebrities. It’s slow but we’ll get there – fingers crossed. 😊

  24. Pingback: On Coming Out (again and again) | 8eternalapology9

  25. “There is the ever-present assumption that any given person is straight until otherwise specified, and it is a very harmful ideology to LGB youth.”

    While I’m hetero, this is something that bothered me from my youth. The idea that homosexuality was a “wrong” choice and not merely a point on the spectrum of human sexuality. Some time ago I wrote this piece that explains my history and the feeling I have about LGB issues: https://miconoclast.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/call-me-queer/

  26. In most other things too, if I may add.. our world view is shaped by the media these days. Even what we call our radical views are sometimes deceptively and insidiously injected into our psyche by the world. Is there free thought anymore? I doubt it. We have changed from an active society of people to a reactive one. If a stranger appeared on earth today, having never seen human society before, I wonder what he/she would feel.

  27. Fantastic post, greatly appreciated!

    The sooner we c an tear down the walls, the better. I am a hetro male, but I have seen the emotional damage that, two, very close friends have, had to live with, and continue to endure on a daily basis.
    They are both sensitive, kind souls, I can only imagine what all of society’s paranoia, bias and ignorance is putting them through.

    They assure me that it doesn’t affect them, that it doesn’t really matter what people think or say, anymore, but I can see the pain and frustration in their eyes.

  28. Reblogged this on Diary of a person who does not matter (to others) and commented:
    I think folks should know a tad bit more about the pressures Lesbian and gay people feel from the likes of me; a straight person. Now to call oneself straight is the height of being prejudiced. I had a friend long ago tell me she was bi-sexual. She too felt the pressure on letting both women and men know that she preferred both their physiques. She felt they thought her to be a kind of nymphomaniac. So this post is worth reading slowly…I reblog without permission.

  29. Pingback: On Coming Out (again and again) | endless possibilities

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