Today is National Coming Out Day, a day when people of sexual orientations different from the heteronormative (e.g. gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc.) celebrate the activism of coming out to family, friends, and loved ones — all the while living out and proud in society. To come out is to break the stigma of LGBT issues, and to have a more open mind when it comes to the subject.
Even just in the past five years, I have seen incredible changes in LGBT issues. More and more people are comfortable being out in their personal and work lives, and same-sex couples and dating are seen as the norm. I would’ve never thought that one could see notable changes this fast, but any case, it’s great that this is all happening.
I think the reason why this acceptance has grown tremendously is due to the rise of social media: the Internet is an inconceivably vast space for people to say what they want, whether good or bad. The Internet offers a platform for those marginalized (LGBT individuals included) to voice their stories about struggle and acceptance; this creates a snowball effect that leads millions of others to voice the same stories.
Recently, though, I came across a few stories of LGBT people who never came out, but others know of their sexuality. This video from a popular YouTube channel is one example of what I came across: although he had never officially came out to his audience (up until this video, that is), he’d never considered it a big deal to be gay.
I think he made a good point that we can all reflect on. While it’s fine for some individuals to want a big and public coming out, it’s also fine not to have one in the first place. It depends on who you are: if you want people to know right away that you’re gay, then go for it. Others may want to keep their sexual orientation private not because they’re ashamed, but rather it’s no one’s business to know in the first place.
At the same time, however, I did grow up in a period (early-mid 2010’s) when the “Coming Out” narrative was really big, especially online. Celebrities were coming out left and right, usually to good public reception. From observing this trend, I thought that I had to come out publicly, too, in order to justify my sexuality. I did my “coming out” to my friends and family, but it never was a huge deal — rather than a huge announcement, it was more of a casual slip-in during conversations. It wasn’t a huge deal, because I grew up in a very-liberal city and my parents and peers were already accepting of LGBT people.
But as I got older, graduated college and moved abroad, I became more careful of whom I divulged my sexuality to. Not to say that I was telling every single person I met that I was bisexual when I was younger (it was only to my family, friends, and people whom I could trust), but later I just didn’t want to. Partly because I didn’t know anyone when I moved and needed to establish rapport before getting personal, and partly because I wanted them to see who I was besides being part of the LGBT community.
Really, there’s so much more to me than just bisexuality: I’m also empathetic, thoughtful, and ambitious. I’m a lover of languages, passionate about travel and poetry, active in race and socioeconomic relations, and a lot more. I didn’t want to be defined primarily by one aspect of myself: I wanted people to know that I’m also a person with complex thoughts and ideas, and I didn’t want to pigeon-toe myself into a single category for political sake.
I’m aware that some LGBT individuals make their sexuality a big part of their lives: whether it’s dressing or acting the part, or partaking in related activities (e.g. drag shows, Pride parades, etc.), they want the world to know that they’re part of the LGBT community. They’re loud and proud, and that’s perfectly fine. But we must also consider that LGBT individuals who are quieter and less-performative are also legitimate members of the community — just because they don’t “act” gay or voice their opinion on the most-recent LGBT issue doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be considered as part of the group.
That said, while I think the “Coming Out” narrative is fine for some people (especially those who feel the need to tell others for peace of mind), I believe it’s becoming less and less of a big deal in this day and age. You shouldn’t be forced to come out, that’s for sure, but if you prefer not to have a big display, then that’s fine, too. Your sexuality isn’t your whole being — it’s only a part of you. It isn’t about limiting yourself at all. Coming out is, to a certain extent, revealing your sexuality to others, but more importantly, it’s also revealing something more: a beautiful, complex human being who can contribute to their beautiful and complex society.
Wishing you a great day!
— The Finicky Cynic
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