Keep It Queer: Coming Out

keep it queer

Keep It Queer is an original, biweekly feature on my blog where I talk about being queer and all the various things this has meant to me over the years. Sometimes this will also involve me babbling about LGBTQ books. It’s also a chance for others to share their stories.

People talk about coming out as though it’s this big one-time event. But really, most people have to come out over and over basically to every new person they meet. I’m only eighteen and already it exhausts me.

The other day I read Laurel's review for Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour on her blog, Rainbow Reading, and she reminded me of this quote I love from the book. It's a gorgeous quote because it's so true. I remembered a few years ago, reading a blog post written by a person who was in her thirties, about exactly this. About the fact that coming out isn't a one-time thing, but it's something you do over and over again in your life.

I think that that's something we really need to remember. Practically speaking, I feel like I'm out. I'm out to the friends that I talk to on a regular basis. I'm out on this blog, where I use my real name and I have a picture of me so I mean, anyone I know in real life could potentially stumble upon this blog and find out that I'm bi if they didn't know already. I'm out to my mum.

But I'm not out to everybody. Many times I've wondered whether to put it on my Facebook profile. I have a boyfriend, and that's what most people whom I don't talk to very much know about me. If it's someone I don't talk to all the time, chances are I've never told them I'm bi. This is especially the case with people from my old school. I keep in touch regularly with precisely two people from my old school, and both of them know. But occasionally, maybe once or twice a year, I meet up with this other girl from my old school. I had dinner with her last month. I'm not out to her. I struggle with coming out to people from my old school because as I've mentioned before, my old school was not a very welcoming environment for queer girls.

She asks me about what societies and stuff I go to at uni, and I can't tell her about LGBTQ Soc even though that's one of the main things I go to. I keep thinking it's probably okay to tell her, but my tongue just freezes up and I can't do it.

I'm not out to my dad. (Once again, he could potentially stumble upon this blog. In which case, hi Dad, I'm not straight!) My parents are divorced and I don't see my dad that often, but I see him at least once every half a year or so, and he knows I have a boyfriend. I just don't really know if I see the point in telling him. I think he'd probably be okay with it, but I don't know. I'm not out to my grandparents, who know I have a boyfriend. My mum told me I shouldn't come out to them. I think that's probably wise.

When I was younger, I desperately, desperately wanted to be out. I was out to a couple of friends, but I wanted to be out to everybody. I think it was particularly because I felt so lonely at my old school, and I was sick of all the homophobic comments I kept hearing from the people all around me. I thought, if I was out, would they still say this horrible stuff to my face? But I couldn't do it. I wanted to tell my mum for years and years, but it took until I was 18 before I managed to tell her. Sometimes I would start thinking about how much I wanted to tell her and I would cry for hours.

We say that we don't need 'coming out' books anymore. To be honest, I can't remember actually once reading a 'coming out' book. All the LGBTQ books I've read have been about so much more than that. But I think the even more important thing is: our lives are about coming out, whether we like it or not. Every interaction with someone who doesn't already know can turn into this in my brain: Should I come out? What would happen if I did? Why do I even want to come out to this person?

No one is ever simply just out. Because we don't just know the same group of people all our lives. We are constantly meeting new people.

Coming out isn't a one-time thing. And yes, it can be huge and frightening and saddening, and it has been for me. But sometimes it's just annoying. Sometimes it's wondering why you can't just pluck up the courage to change your Facebook profile. Sometimes it's wondering whether it would make a difference if you just made an offhand comment to someone about going to LGBTQ Society events. Sometimes it's just frustrating that you've managed to come out to so many people already and yet you still can't come out to this one person. It's in so many of the choices we make when we meet new people and when we see old friends we haven't talked to in years. What do I say? Does it even matter? Why do I care about this so much that it still makes me want to cry sometimes?

So yeah. It's exhausting. And I would like it if more books appreciated how complicated this can be.

Have you read any books which you feel are 'coming out' books or which deal with this topic substantially? If you're not straight, what has your coming out experience been like? How 'out' are you and how easy do you find coming out to people?

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8 thoughts on “Keep It Queer: Coming Out

  1. Great post and I can relate so much. Coming out is really something that keeps going your whole life, I think. And you have to make so many decisions.
    Most of my close friends and my colleagues know I'm queer. I am not hiding it from everyone else, but at the same time if it hasn't come up they simply don't know. It's very tiresome to have to keep thinking who knows, who doesn't, should you tell them, should it just be a mention in a conversation, what do these people assume about you, etc. And then of course you meet new people, get a new job, move, etc. and you have to do it all over again.
    Also, I still haven't figured myself out 100% (if that is even ever going to happen) so that also makes it difficult. If you tell them a, they will think b, but then if it turns out to be c, everyone will be confused and.. big sigh.
    Carola recently posted [Review] Genocide of One, by Kazuaki Takano

    1. Post author

      *hug* IT IS SO HARD. And like you said, utterly tiresome. ): There are always those moments just before I tell someone when my heart sort of starts beating really fast and I just feel so nervous when I say those words, no matter how many times I've done it before now. Blehhhh. I meet so many new people at uni as well all the time, so it's a constant struggle.

      It's okay, Carola! I think very few people ever have it completely figured out. There are always straight people who suddenly find themselves falling in love with someone of the same gender and vice versa! I just wish more people would realise how complicated it all is. I personally was worried for years that I didn't actually like guys at all, only girls, because my attraction to guys is really very low. Anyway, your sexuality is your own thing and it's okay not to know for sure! If other people are confused by your sexuality then it's their fault. You don't owe it to them to make sure they're not confused. <3

  2. I love this post! I can relate to it so much because I am at that stage of wanting to be out to everyone and it's weird because I'm not out to my family (that won't happen any time soon) yet I blog about not being straight using my real name and a picture of myself so they could easily find out. I am out to my friends though.

    I love that you mentioned Coming Out books because I have seen quite a few people act like they're no longer relevant and that's just not true at all. If you're not straight, you'll constantly have to come out and books that deal with Coming Out will therefore always be important! I am nervous now because I'm starting university in September so I will have to do the whole coming out to everyone (from flatmates to any new friends).
    Thank you for sharing. I love this feature!
    rainbowreads recently posted Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

    1. Post author

      Yeah, I really wasn't sure when I was ever going to come out to my mum. I couldn't do it for years and years and years, even when I tried so hard to work myself up to it, and then it all happened very suddenly without any preparation at all.

      Yep, coming out books will always be relevant. But really, I wish all books featuring queer characters, unless they're in a world where being LGBTQ is so widespread and common that coming out isn't even a thing (even in societies where people are accepted for LGBTQ, as long as it's a minority thing that's not normally visible, people will have to come out – that's just the way it works!), would acknowledge the complications and difficulties of coming out.

      YOU'LL BE OKAY. <3 I was nervous too as well and I thought I would be out to everybody immediately but it took me until late November before I managed to come out to anyone. And even that took me a lot of courage. I'd actually started going to LGBTQ events straightaway but that doesn't really count since the good thing about that is that when you go to those events, it's not really coming out. You're just entering a room where you immediately know everyone else in the room is queer and everyone else knows you're queer. But anyway, the first person I actually had to come out to immediately came out to me as bi as well, so that was a nice surprise, and it really encouraged me to come out to more people and it got easier and easier. :)

  3. I think this is a really important thing that you mentioned! Coming out isn't a one time thing, and I also think books need to feature and mention that more. I haven't read many LGBTQ books yet, but I hope I do by the end of 2015! And I hope you gain the courage to come out to everybody :D I'm sure you will!
    Valerie recently posted Review: The Kiss of Deception

    1. Post author

      Thank you, Val! <3 There are a lot of fab-looking LGBTQ books coming out this year so I really hope you will get to read some of them too. :D

  4. I agree with everything you've said, Cynthia. 'Coming out' stories are (still) important, because okay, there is already a lot of it out there, BUT every coming out is different, every story, every characher IS different. Saying, oh we have enough of these stories, let's move onto stories where the characters are already out is like... saying oh we have enough stories about falling in love, let's only write stories where the couples are already established :D
    Cayce recently posted The Way He Looks…

    1. Post author

      YES CAYCE I TOTALLY AGREE. :D :D That's so perfectly put! Every story is unique so it's not like we can ever have enough of them. And honestly I would just love like a queer MC in a fantasy/sci-fi setting where they have to come out to other people but it's just like small scenes alongside whatever awesome adventure they're having and stuff like that.

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