Coming Out: It Get's Easier With Time
Cover Photo By: @KingKevbw
On October 11th of every year, we celebrate National Coming Out Day. I know in recent years, everything has a day (i.e. National Car Owners Day, National Ice Cream Day, National Best Friends Day etc.). However, National Coming Out Day began in 1988, with a rooting principal that silence breeds shame, and telling someone gives the us an opportunity to remove a layer of this shame.
It wasn’t until I was 18 that I realized that I will always have to come out. Not a shocking revelation, but quite a shock for someone who had already been out for about 4 years. I thought once I came out to my accepting family and friends, the worst was over and I was done with that. Anyone who has come out in their adolescence knows that even one year of being out can feel like seven in dog years because you have so many conversations, confessions, lies to unveil, and way too many explanations!
Coming Out in College
I got my first reminder of this from a potential college roommate. I began chatting with girls on my university’s freshman class Facebook group. I was basically people shopping to make sure I didn’t end up with rando’s and came across a post from 3 really dope girls that went to a neighboring high school seeking one more person to complete their quad. We began chatting it up for a few days exchanging jokes and confirming none of us had been a kleptomaniac, had stank ass feet or was a drama queen.
The day before roommate requests opened, one of the girls wrote me outside of the group chat and asked “Ummm are u gay?” (a direct quote thanks to archived Facebook messages I haven’t looked back at until now). I responded “um is the gay thing a problem? If so I guess I understand.” I had done something I hadn’t had to before; I gave her an exit from the situation before explaining anything more about myself. I also lied and said I understood, but in reality, I was quite confused. She pulled an ‘I’m-not-racist-my-best-friend-is-black’ and said, “well my sis is gay, I have no problems with gays as long as I'm not tried.”
A few days later, one of her other friends decided we probably wouldn’t make good roommates because she was concerned that I would try to come on to her.
I didn’t take this well at all. I felt like I contracted a strain of homosexuality called Rainbow Colitis that taken my ability to communicate with women without making out with them or flirting uncontrollably. Is this how other girls would always see me? Was I cool to talk to, but not the girl you wanted sleeping over your house or 10 feet from you in a dorm breathing my homo air? Was this discrimination? My head swirled with potential insults and snarky things I’d say to her if we’d ever ran into each other on campus. But the main thought in my head was feeling rejected, gross and unworthy of being known outside of my sexuality.
That’s when it dawned on me. I will always have to come out. I’ll have to come out to new friends, roommates, co-workers, men that try to come on to me, etc. For me, coming out is not to seek acceptance or validation. Sometimes, it can be in the most annoying of situations (i.e. men hitting on me) and I still have to deal with peoples disrespectful comments, poorly worded questions and unwarranted reactions.
Coming Out at Work
A few years later, I had a very disrespectful exchange with a co-worker at a new job. My girlfriend at the time came to visit me on my lunch break. She was a masculine presenting woman and as a feminine identifying lesbian, this was often how people validated and even invalidated my gayness.
One day my co-worker saw us holding hands in the parking lot and I thought nothing of it. Two weeks later, my co-worker sat across from me in the lunchroom and out of nowhere asked me if I had a boyfriend. I told her I had a girlfriend and that we had been together for 2 years. She followed up with questions about how my parents felt, when I told them and if anyone in my family was gay. She assumed my parents disowned me or that I was in the closet and that all my aunts were lesbians and I followed in their footsteps.
She proceeded to say she’s certain those “unnatural behaviors” are learned behaviors, because '“sex is for procreation” and someone choosing to be with the same sex had no purpose. As bigots naturally love to do, she kept saying things like “I’m sorry but…” and “No offense but…” I remained silent as she spewed her homophobia. I felt something very clear this time, anger. This was so different from coming out to my potential roommate. I didn’t retreat or apologize for being an inconvenience. This time I was enraged and I let it take over.
I snapped. “You know what? I agree that sexual acts are a learned behavior because that’s how little girls end up sucking dick, because they walked in on their mom doing it and took notes!” I should add in that when I said the “their mom” part I may have slightly pointed at her which changed the energy of my already harsh statement for sure. She stormed out. I felt victorious but immediately started crying my eyes out.
Coming Out to Flirting Men
About a year later, I was at a house party with a friend who ditched me for her boo. I stood around dancing by myself until the DJ’s playlist got increasingly worse. I recognized a guy from my International Law class so I thought I’d go chat with him. We had a great conversation about all nerdy things law, political and future career plans. He asked me if I had a boyfriend and I told him I was gay. He slid back into the couch and face palmed. He said he thought we were flirting, and I didn’t look gay. He even asked if I was bisexual. This time, instead of getting upset and waking away, I kept talking to him. Admittedly, I was uncomfortable at points and felt like I should just walk away. Yet, there was a calmness over me that I hadn’t felt before and continued to have talk about myself and it turned out well. By the end of our conversation, he apologized for being so dismissive of my sexual orientation and we even planned a study group. I ended up making a new friend that ended up really respecting me.
I realize through my journey of coming out time and time again that it has gotten easier. I do not have to allow anyone’s comments to incite a riot inside of me. Often times, our immediate reaction is to let someone’s ignorance take us out of character. Even when we don’t particularly care for the person to accept us, we’ll continue to have moments where suddenly our sexuality is of primary importance and all the other amazing stuff about us is on the back burner. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t make us any less proud of who we are in the moments in which we choose to speak our truth.
Happy National Coming Out Day!