Identity Crisis: Tales of Coming Out
I was fourteen when I decided to come out to my parents. It wasn’t dramatic or special, even though I braced myself for the worst. It turned out I had the most supporting and loving parents anyone could ever ask for. They didn’t get upset or ask God why their son was gay; they just accepted it and talked to me about being safe. Seven years later I still reflect on the modern and progressive way they handled it. I know there are many stories that do not end up like mine. I learned a very long time ago that coming out is hard and not everyone has a happy ending.
My first brush with coming out was with a slightly older male friend. He described to me that his coming out was harsh. Despite my friend’s sweet and easygoing nature, his father wanted to disown him and spit in his face. His story has never left my thoughts and I am thankful that I never experienced a harsh reaction. The lessons I learned from these events were: if you are in an unsafe environment or feel you are threatened, it is perfectly acceptable to not come out. Most importantly of all is do not feel pressured to come out even when others urge you. Coming out should be done on your own free will and outing someone is despicable. People might disagree with the former, but sometimes your safety should be a priority. As fast as LGBT rights are growing, some see it differently and wish to hinder the movement. There have been many murders committed against the community, all for being of a different sexuality or gender identity. Not only have murders impacted us, but so have suicides – all for being unable to be themselves.
The more LGBTQ+ friends I make, the more I realize everyone inside this other world is different. Not everyone is specific or has one label attached to them; sometimes we choose and then change who our identities are. I’ve seen and heard people identify as another gender, another sexuality, and it’s remarkable to see them come out as a new individual. In the seven years I’ve been out, I believe even now I am still learning more about myself. Labelling me as just a gay man is limiting, and like others, I have developed a heightened awareness of who I truly am.
Seven years ago I would have been scared to label myself as anything, but gay. Anything else was strange, but I see teenagers today identifying as something else I could never at their age. Demisexual, pansexual, all these unique terms were introduced to me and I loved it. Granted they are something I do not identify as, I embrace these individuals who can be themselves. I’ve struggled even in my own close tight-knit group of LGBT friends to figure out how to describe myself to my liking; queer homoromantic seems to strike a chord with me and it is what I choose to label myself. Saying you’re gay is fine and there is nothing wrong with sticking to it. Though, sometimes you may want to define yourself and not let others do it for you.
National Coming Out Day should celebrate our diversity within the LGBT community. It’s about acceptance and that means accepting who you are. Whether you remain in the closet for your safety or your own choosing or want to tell the world who you are, do it. Do not be afraid of who you are because accepting who you are is one of the greatest things you can do.