Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Coming Out Isn't the End
Its been a long time since I've been 'in the closet'. Like many people who have a closet they've had to come out of, I still remember vividly what it was like to be in it; lonely, quiet, and full of fear. Always looking over your shoulder, hoping not to be caught. Every free moment of thought consumed by your secret. Its really not pleasant, obviously.
Being 'out' is truly liberating. Talking to almost any LGBT*Q person would probably make that abundantly clear. For me, its been 6 years of a (mostly) great experience. I have been proud, and loud, and many people who know me can attest to that - in case this blog didn't make it clear enough. During my time in California this summer though, a funny thing happened... I seemed to have been placed back into a closet.
I took the trip to work for my uncle in San Francisco for two weeks. I love San Francisco; I've been there before, and its an exciting and truly diverse place. I was very excited to finally go as an 'out' gay man: to explore some of the famous city known for its large and strong gay community. What happened then, was not something I expected.
When I started to work, I was introduced to everyone as they came in. They are all wonderful people - polite, friendly, and genuine. It was shocking to me when one of them made an off-hand comment about how all the girls must like me, or me having a girlfriend. I was literally dumbfounded, and didn't know how to respond.
Instantly I was transported back into my closet - at least mostly. Pressure to be more manly welled up. Those voiced returned telling me I am different and that I shouldn't let people know. So strong were these voices and feelings of hiding that I never corrected those assumptions until I had less than a week left there.
Don't get me wrong, they weren't central to our conversations nor were they said with malice (and I don't hold it against these people) but they were powerful. And they reminded me about how coming out once isn't enough. Its the first step down a road of empowerment, and like every journey you have to take step after step after step. That was just the latest step I had taken.
In light of this coming out day, everyone should keep in mind that people are constantly 'coming out'. And for LGBT*Q people there is at least one more thing that we will always feel the need to say and justify. Whenever we go to a new school, or get a new job, or really whenever we meet someone we will always feel that need. So remember, coming out is empowering and amazing but its just the beginning of your journey.