I could very easily call this my coming out story but the thing about coming out in a cissexist and heteronormative world is that coming out happens all the time. It’s a journey, one in which I and many others have to keep coming out in the midst of assumptions and judgments.
But with National Coming Out Day being today, I thought I’d talk about the major ways in which I came out over the last few years. I initially started to realize I wasn’t straight when I was finishing up my senior year of high school. I had been casually a part of the Gay Straight Partnership throughout high school but maintained that I was in fact straight. For what felt like the longest time, I didn’t have the right words to describe how I was starting to feel but after a few months I started to realize I was bi/pan. (Two identities I personally use interchangeably but that’s my own interpretation of my identity.)
I wanted to tell the world because it was amazing to be able to have words to describe how I identified but I was also scared. During my first year at a catholic university, I heard horror stories of friends coming out and families not responding particularly well. One of my closest friends then came out as bi to her parents half way through our freshman year and it did not go well to say the least.
Luckily she’s on better terms with them now but the experience jaded me and so I decided not to be out to my family for awhile. I did start to tell close friends though because it was definitely something I felt like I could no longer keep to myself and it was nice to have a couple people to talk to about it.
But the decision not to be out didn’t last that long in the scheme of things. A couple weeks into the second semester of my sophomore year, I realized in one of my classes that I couldn’t keep my sexuality in anymore. It felt like a secret burning on the tip of my tongue and I felt like I needed to shout to the world that they were wrong in how they saw me.
So I called my family up late on Wednesday night after class, asked them to huddle around our speaker phone, and told them. I was so nervous – I remember barely being able to say the words, my heart was racing, and I was getting close to hyperventilating. But they all took it (and still take it) very well. Shortly after, I also announced it on Facebook as well, where more friends and family were also very supportive.
Most of the people in my life took my initial coming out exceptionally well and they still do. But coming out still was a journey – it’s been something that I experienced in every classroom while at university, something that I’ve worried about with jobs or new friends or people I live with. And as I’ve experimented and learned more about my own gender, the little things I’ve done to change my gender presentation have also been ways I’ve subtly come out.
Autostraddle has a list of articles written about coming out, some with resources about pop culture stories on coming out, personal stories of coming out, or even not coming out if that’s what you decide. The important thing today is to celebrate you and your authentic self in whatever way you decide to. You can have told no one or be completely out or only out to a self few. The thing is that this is your decision and I know that there’s a whole bunch of people all over who will always welcome you in open arms.
I haven’t really come out as far as my gender because that continues to be a work in progress but being out as a queer person has definitely been a wonderful aspect of my life. But that’s my life – I have a lot of privileges that protect me from other harsh realities of the world. I don’t deal with racism or racial microaggressions – my whiteness gives me a certain element of ‘being normal’ in a society where whiteness is seen as the normal or default. I’m able bodied and I’m from a family that continues to have access to so many different resources.
So wherever you are on your own journey, just know that I love you, that you’re valid no matter where you are in your life, and you are not alone. There’s no race to be out or to transition or anything like that. Just know that there are people out in the world who will unconditionally root for you in life. ❤ ❤