National Coming Out Day

Posted: October 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

I have mixed feelings about National Coming Out Day.

On the one hand, I agree with the idea of having a big celebration for those people who have come out of the closet, and have to come to terms with who they are, and are living ‘out’ as their true selves. Secrets can be bad for both those around the secret-keeper, and the secret-keeper themselves.

On the other hand…it’s kind of cruel to people who can’t come out.

Let me draw a comparison here. A friend of mine lost his father about five years ago now. Ever since, Father’s Day is a huge struggle for him. For me — I lost my mother in 2013 — the same doesn’t apply. I wasn’t close to her, we had a horrible relationship, and the family didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day anyway. I genuinely am bewildered every year when someone out of nowhere goes, “Oh, thinking of you and yours today,” with a sad face on. I need prompting, as I’ve probably missed what day it is!

Similarly, National Coming Out Day never bothered me, before or after I came out. Before I came out, I didn’t much feel like I was burdened with some horrible secret or anything. If anything, I came out because more people in my author world were driving me nuts about smack-talking my gender identity and orientation than people in my real world.

But one thing does bother me.

Every time National Coming Out Day rolls around, there’s a slew of posts on the forums (‘the’ being transgender and asexuality forums, respectively) from people worrying about how to do it, when to do it, who to do it with, and the consequences. And that’s totally normal. But there’s a significant number of them who openly admit, in the same post, that they don’t want to do it.

So don’t!

My God, does this still need saying?

Nobody — and I mean nobody — has any right to make you, or even pressurise you into coming out. If they do, they’re a fucking cunt. And I really mean that.

Not coming out does not make you a coward. It does not make you a liar. It does not make you homophobic or transphobic or any other phobic. It does not mean you are not ‘really’ the orientation or gender identity that you are. It simply means you have not come out. That is all.

Many people cannot or do not want to come out. I never wanted to tell my family, and I regret doing so. A friend at university never told anyone he was gay unless he wanted to have a relationship with them. Both of us had the perfect right to feel the way we did. In his case, he ran no real tangible risk of being ostracised by his friends and family, because they were all gay-friendly. In mine, I did run a risk of being turned away by my own blood, and it happened. I regret coming out. He doesn’t regret not coming out.

If you want to come out — if everything else aside, you want your family and friends to know, you want to tell the world — then congratulations, have some cake, and kick ass doing it. But if you don’t, that is fine too.

For everyone else — gay and straight, cis and trans, because sadly this exists on both sides of the fence — remember that there is no requirement to come out to count. People are what they are, whether they tell you or not, and you do not earn a ‘gay legitimacy card’ by coming out of the closet.

When I say I am asexual, I am telling you something about my sex life. When I say I am transgender, I am telling you something about the contents of my clothes. That is deeply personal information. It could get me murdered. It could lose me my family and friends. It could destroy my marriage (if I had one). It could get me fired. And it could simply be something I don’t feel like telling other people all about.

Every choice is valid — being in or out of the closet.

To everyone out or coming out today: congratulations, good luck, and make sure you’re safe and supported doing it.

To everyone in the closet: don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong or you don’t count for being there.

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Comments
  1. S says:

    Thank you for writing this blog post. And you’re right – you do not have to come out if you’re not comfortable with it, if it’s not safe – it does not make you less of a person or less valid if you do not come out. I never told anyone in real life that I’m asexual except my potential partners and best friends and that was it. But I have to thank you for writing that blog post – people still feel very pressured to come out in some way. So thank you for writing this! Thank you. This blog is a treasure!

    Like

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