Yesterday was National Coming Out Day, a day I love because we all get to share our stories, remember our experiences and, hopefully, show other gay people that it’s okay and everything will be alright.
While pottering about thinking about my own experience, it dawned on me; although I “officially” came out when I was 13 (if there is such a thing), I’ve never stopped coming out since.
Coming out is made to sound like a one-time, rip-the-plaster-off experience. Often painful, but better to do quickly, right? In reality, that is hardly the case. Sure, I may now find it easier to tell new people I’m gay, but each time I do, I’m still coming out to them all over again.
If I start a new job or get a new barber, I will inevitably have to let them know at some point, or be subjected to talk about “fit birds” or asked if I saw “that one”. Telling a new barber is especially scary as not only are they in control of how I look for the next few weeks, they also have a razor to hand. Yes, it is still a fear even in 2015.
When talking to someone new and they ask me whether I have a girlfriend and I say no, it’s assumed I’m single. The onus is on me to clarify and risk being shunned out of a potential new circle of friends.
I’m not trying to say that coming out isn’t easier in 2015; quite the contrary. We have such easy access to a fantastic community and array of support I would say it’s easier than ever (if you live in certain countries), but these things are all still very real and can get incredibly tedious. I’m 28 now, I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve been told I don’t “look gay”. Well, comrade, I can assure you I am, it’s been the one constant in my life and something that has made me a very independent person.
To clarify, I don’t really give a fuck if some closed-minded person dislikes me because I happen to find men more attractive than women, I know there are more people in the world who I would prefer dedicating my friendship to. But that doesn’t change the possibility of violence, or the possibility that it could negatively affect my career.
We take a lot of shit as gay people, and far too many people are still uncomfortable talking naturally about themselves in conversation. This needs to change. If you’re ever on the other side of the conversation and realising that someone is gay, brush it off and carry on. Let them know you’re okay with gay people by continuing to be the same person, so they can too. Don’t say ridiculous things like “I don’t have a problem with gay people.”, or “I have a gay friend, do you know them?”. It’s insulting, even if you didn’t realise it before now.
You don’t have to come out as someone who accepts me, just accept me. Besides, I’m awesome and it’s your loss if you don’t.