Coming out- again, and again, and again, and again

Posted: June 18, 2014 in Sexuality
Tags: , ,

So I’m going to go a little off topic from the fitness and body image stuff here. I saw this post “I have to come out as a lesbian everyday, and it’s exhausting” and wanted to share that as well as some of my own thoughts.

The constant coming out is one thing I think most straight folks just don’t get. As the author of that piece says, we think about and talk about coming out as one big event that happens and is done. And we tend to think that queer people are either in the closet, or out. It’s all or nothing. Of course it’s not that simple.

Even the big reveals aren’t always. I first came out to my friends as bi in early college. But between then and a little over a year ago I was not out to my family. Around the time I came out to my family I then “came out” to some friends as a lesbian.

Changing identities can make this all the more complicated! I currently prefer “queer” as an ID, though lesbian or gay are ok with me. My primary attraction is toward women but it’s not impossible that I could be attracted to a man.  Quantified I’d say I’m probably 90-95% gay.

I’ve had similar experiences to the author. Being femme (I like the term “hard femme” and feel it’s fairly accurate for me) I don’t typically set off people’s gaydar. Even within lgbtq spaces I’m used to being assumed to be a straight ally. I’ve also had friends I’ve had to come out to multiple times because it just never seemed to stick that i’m queer. “Well you’re straight…” NO! Not only have I told you, many times now, that I’m not- you hung out with me and my ex-girlfriend when we were together numerous times, how do you still think I’m straight!?!

And there is the constant coming out in daily life… and again not fitting neatly into one of the lgb boxes can make that more complicated though. I think of when I’ve met new people and they started talking about karaoke, I start to talk about how I used to go out to karaoke a lot when I was with my ex and I realize that in order to finish what I’m saying I have to either use the correct feminine pronouns and out myself to people I don’t know well enough yet to know how they will react (and while the vast majority of folks will not react to that violently, I still have to worry about the minority of folks who would, because I don’t know if someone I just met is in that minority) or I  just outright lie by using masculine pronouns, or I try to really awkwardly reword what I’m saying to avoid any pronoun usage, or names, or labels like “girlfriend”/”boyfriend”.

And while I’d say I’m semi-out at work (there are some people who know, most folks it’s never come up with), at every new job it becomes a question of if I should out myself there, and the risks if I do (particularly when employers can openly discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation if they choose under current law).

The closeted/out dichotomy isn’t really a dichotomy at all because many queer folks are simultaneously both just in different situations. For some folks that means only being “out” to a small number of people, while for others it may mean being out but not wanting to bother correcting an assumption on the part of a stranger, and for many something else in between there.

But “coming out” isn’t so much one big event as it is a process that never really ends.

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