October 11th marks National Coming Out Day, an important day of civil awareness for the LGBT community. It’s a chance for the community to share their stories with others and give other gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people – among others with lifestyles other than hetero-normative – the confidence in their identity to be open in public.
Since I am an avid supporter of LGBT rights and an open pan-romantic asexual, I felt a social obligation to answer some questions that people may have about coming out, as well share my own coming out story on this special day.
Why Is Coming Out Important?
I’m sure a lot of straight people wonder why it’s so important for gay people to announce it to people. I’ve actually heard several people ask, “Why can’t they just keep it to themselves? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to not come out?”
This way of thinking ignores just how stressful being forced to hide one’s true nature can be. And make no mistake, it IS being forced to hide. Let me put it this way; are you familiar with the feeling you get when you’re at work and feel really stressed out because you can’t joke with customers and coworkers the way you do with your friends or you just feel lousy and can’t talk about it to anyone there? Well, imagine never being able to go home to be yourself around friends and family and you have the average stress levels of a “closet” LGBT person.
It’s also important to note that some people see coming out as a sort of rite of passage. Being able to be open about your orientation is a symbol of growth and emotional strength. It’s similar to the feeling you had when you got your first job or earned your driver’s license.
How And When Should I Come Out?
This is one of the most challenging questions an LGBT person will ever ask themselves. The problem comes from the fact that every person is under a radically different set of circumstances. If you want to come out, you need to consider how people will react and how it may affect all parties involved. Remember: this will be just as much of a shocking and tense moment for them as it will be for you.
There are many ways to come out. You can try coming out to a closer friend or family member that you can trust your secrets to and ask them for advice before coming out to the person you want to come out to. You might also try coming out through a letter, text, or email so that you both have time to consider your words so neither of you says something you’ll regret in the future. The method you choose is based solely on your comfort.
Most importantly, you should never feel like you’re on a timer. There is absolutely no perfect time to come out. The only perfect time is when you are comfortable and ready to make the call yourself.
I consider myself very fortunate as I feel my coming out was much easier than most. That said, that’s not to say that there weren’t difficulties.
The first problem was just understanding who I was and forming an identity. I knew I wasn’t gay or bisexual because I had no real interest in sex (sex, in my experience, made many a relationship much too complicated to manage). But at the same time, I couldn’t deny the fact that I found many people – male, female, transgender, and otherwise – attractive both physically and on a basis of personality.
Fortunately, I had discovered a great circle of friends in college that I could talk to about my identity crisis. They introduced me to the concepts that I use to identify myself today. This act of coming out to myself finally let me feel like I had a place in the world that I belonged.
The next step was to tell my parents. This was important to me because I never want to keep secrets from my own mother and father; It just felt dishonest. I was lucky enough to have been born to two very understanding human beings that I could speak to directly. In fact, I recall working it into a discussion on the show The Big Bang Theory claiming that the character of Dr.Sheldon Cooper had a similar identity (and we’re both unintentional braggarts at times).The most difficult part was explaining to them what pan-romantic meant.
Now, here I am on a global forum with the courage and force of character to announce who I am without shame. It’s my hope that everybody learns to welcome those different from them and that those different people will have the courage to be themselves without worrying about their present company.
If you are reading this and you’re one of the people scared of the changing world around you and the people that live in it or are just afraid that you don’t fit in anywhere because of how you identify yourself, know that I understand how unnerving those feelings can be and that I made this blog to help educate those who are confused about something and just need a friendly guiding hand.
Also know that, even though I may have never met you and I probably never will, I want to be a friend to the world and that I truly and unconditionally love you all.
- Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are… Why We Need National Coming Out Day (abravefaith.wordpress.com)
- ‘Coming Out Still Matters,’ HRC celebrates 25th National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 (with video) (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Happy National Coming Out Day :) (hiddenperspectives.org)
- National Coming Out Day: Support equal rights for all LGBT on Oct. 11 (examiner.com)
- Watch: HRC Celebrates 25 Years of National Coming Out Day (hrc.org)
- National Coming Out Day 2013 (dangrayson21.wordpress.com)