coming out is hard

i get a lot of messages about coming out. specifically, some of you cats seem really concerned about coming out the “right” way in order to scare away as few people as possible. (this isn’t going to be a reprimand or anything; i’m just gonna address all of you at once.). i get why you might think it’s vitally important to come out a certain way, but shit doesn’t work like that, imo.

like some of you, i’ve spent a fuck-ton of time beating my ass for not coming out better. i used to think if only i’d come out more politely, more coherently, more gracefully, more (insert adverb), maybe my partner’s family wouldn’t have responded to my coming out by ostracizing my partner and i. if only i’d been a better trans* person, maybe they would’ve responded with acceptance and support.

but i’m calling shenanigans on that shit.

coming out never goes well. it’s never perfect. Imagedoing it “right” won’t magically make the people you come out to discover how un-asshole-like they really are. if they’re assholes, there’s nothing you can say that’ll transform them into respectful, supportive people. if they’re not assholes, the most awkward/tense/incoherent coming-out in the whole fucking world isn’t going to transform them into assholes.

so chill, if you can. if you can’t chill, that’s ok. coming out can be really hard even when you figure it’s technically safe to do so; don’t be surprised if you can’t be laid back about it.

but also don’t be surprised when your well-rehearsed coming out speech comes out all fucked up. most folks are nervous or plain scared when they come out; no wonder so few of us manage to utter exactly the words we’ve planned on.

and we have a lot to be nervous/scared about. there’s a lot of stigma attached to being queer (i’m including transness in queerness), especially for those of us who face multiple oppressions. so if your guts get all twisted up every time you come out, even after you’ve come out multiple times, that’s fucking fine. really.

anyone who rejects you as a trans*/asexual/bisexual/fabulous person cuz you were nervous and/or awkward when you came out is a fucking asshole.  it’s not your job to come out gracefully, tactfully, and coherently while doing ballet and reciting shakespeare. just coming out is enough.

actually, since many people don’t have the luxury of coming out, just existing is enough. coming out is a fucking radical act all on it’s own, no pyrotechnics (ex. being coherent and polite) required. even living in this world as an oppressed person is radical; you’re already doing your bit.

k? i get that feels are complicated and you can’t just force yourself to stop obsessing over your past /future coming out experiences, but just know that you deserve respect (and cupcakes!) no matter how (or if) you come out. you are fucking awesome: awkwardness, nervousness, incoherence and all.

*   *   *

feel free to share coming out stories, not-coming out stories, feelings around coming out, etc. please don’t talk about coming out as inevitable or necessary, though, cuz some people don’t want to come out (or can’t); please be mindful of that. thanks!

also, zillions of thanks to south carolina boy for helping me stop blaming myself when the people i come out to reject me. <33333333 cuz you wrote something in a comment or an email (this was months ago) and the meaning behind it just lies along my bones and radiates awesome. yay!

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4 responses to “coming out is hard

  1. It seems to me (and perhaps this is my limited experience with it) is that coming out is not really cut and dry. There are so many people you could potentially “come out” to. So many situations. So many conversations.

    Sometimes it’s a sit down, serious talk conversation. Sometimes its something thats said in passing, and then one realizes the cats out of the bag. Some people have lots of questions, some people accept it without questions.

    If its something you choose to do in your life, you realize that its an ongoing process. As you meet new people, start working at new places, new people become a part of your family (or perhaps you come out to only certain members of your family at a time) it’s a whole new situation to be dealt with.

    There’s no one way to do it, because it is so unique to who you are and the relationship with who you come out to.

    Once again, thats just me and my limited experience with it…

  2. i just wrote about coming out, and your post is having me really rethink what i said. coming out is hard and will never be perfect. curious what you think of “coming out” being such a logo of central importance in the lgbtq community. Why put something so difficult and traumatizing (for many of us) as the center stage, isnt that a bit inconsiderate of those having a difficult time coming out?

  3. @sonicrhubarb: so much yes! that’s why i’m always leery of articles about how to come out. they’re always like, “sit them down and talk to them” or “once you’ve done it, it’ll be over,” but it’s different every time. and some cats have to come out constantly; there’s no “after.” so, yep, that’s some sound advice, cat.

    thanks for sharing with us; it adds a lot to the conversation.

    @olliebeast: honestly, i think people can be super inconsiderate about coming out. specifically, i think it’s super important to remember that many people just can’t come out safely (now or ever, in some cases); i think it damages the community to act like you have to come out to be a happy queer. it’s like there’s this picture of the “perfect” queer life and it definitely includes coming out (and probably getting married, being white, being thin, etc.). shit like that can be pretty marginalizing, imo.

    i think that, as queer folks, we need to work on not creating central narratives and marginalizing folks who don’t fit. i think we need to work on really honoring all the fabulous diversity within our communities. and not being butts about coming out would be a good step towards real inclusivity, i think. i guess what i mean is that i’d like to see more queer folks accepting that some people come out in these ways, some queer folk come out in those ways, and some queer folk don’t come out at all. yeah.

    thoughts?

  4. I think this is excellent advise. It really takes the pressure off.

    Some thoughts: Whether or not (and when) you come out to someone doesn’t have to mean anything in terms of your relationship. I’ve been out to one of my brothers for over a year and have yet to come out to my other brother. That doesn’t mean I love him any less. I just talk to him a whole lot less and it is an awkward subject to bring up. It’s not that I don’t want to tell him, I just haven’t and that’s okay.

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