October 11th is National Coming Out Day.
For me, coming out, and the anxiety and stress than can and often does surround coming out is an odd concept. At my age, I think it’s a bit of a rarity, whereas I have hope it’ll be easier for gen Z kids. I am really privileged though, at least in that sense. I have LGBTQIA family members.
I didn’t really come out as bisexual.
I remember having a vague conversation with my mum about it over a glass of wine when I was about 19. She already knew. It was a bit different with my dad. I less came out and more just told him I had a girlfriend when me and Bethend were serious (so about two weeks in!!). Our relationship is more complicated though.
I think there is definitely a disconnected between me telling people I’m bisexual or genderfluid/non-binary and actually coming out.
I do not feel like I am coming out.
More like letting people in.
Being bisexual or genderfluid generally, usually, means you’re always coming out in a way. People look at you, look at your relationship, and make assumptions. Breasts? Women. Same-sex relationship? Lesbian. You’re always coming out, correcting people.
I have slowly started to correct people. There are many memes going around about trans people jumping in to defend others when they’re misgendered but not advocating for themselves. And they hit the mark, because I do the same. So, coming out for me, if anything, is correcting people.
Coming out is correcting people on my sexual orientation, my gender. To be honest, looking at me, there are a lot of assumptions made, a lot of misconceptions made. I get treated like a person much younger than I am because I have acne and generally do not look nearly 40. Treated like I am unable to care or advocate for myself because on occasion my anxiety or depression (or both) means that I am doing the basics and the basics only.
I am starting to advocate for myself as well as others though. With simple phrases, “I’m not a woman.” “I’m not a lesbian.” It’s a slow process.
People come across my labels because I correct them, or they ask, or they sport the badges I wear or the labels in my bios. It’s less coming out and more letting people in.
I have privilege though. I’m white, I am nearly forty, and I have a supportive family (even my dad), I have queer family. I’ve never needed to come out. My mum is not-straight and my step-dad not-cis. I’ve never had to worry about being ostracised or abused or made homeless or killed for being anything other than cishet. But that is the reality for many people, young and old. We’re denied, housing, basic human rights just because we’re LGBTQIA+.
When Bethend and I got married, marriage wasn’t even legal, it was civil partnerships or nothing. When I was in school, section 28 was still in effect, making it illegal to teach or talk about LGBTQ relationship sin school. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had people think I’m my wife’s friend, sister, had people call me names in the street and online. I get misgendered daily and my identity erased on several levels.
Coming out leaves you vulnerable.
That’s what puts people off, that’s what makes people anxious, that’s why it’s such a big thing for any LGBTQIA+ person to declare their identity to be anything other than cishet. And if celebrities get shit for it, what hope is there for the millions of people young and old who have yet to be the person they are outside their own hearts?
There is hope though. It does get better.
I think, coming out is always worth it in the long run but for some people there will be hard times ahead. Do not come out if you are not safe. Get safe first, then come out.
And you can always come out to me. I’ll happy to hear it, read it, validate it.