I feel lucky that I’ve had support around being queer from the beginning. My best friend came out in 8th grade, and I didn’t start questioning my sexuality until I was a sophomore or junior in high school. By then, I had a circle of 3-4 close friends.. most of whom were queer.. and were totally supportive when queer Vanessa busted out. That summer, I was in training for my first job at a community organization, and my co-workers (other youth and my supervisors) were super supportive too. It was nice.
There are people I’m still not out to, like most of my family (my sister knows and is cool with it.) My parents… kinda know… I think. We haven’t openly talked about it or acknowledged it. I think it’ll eventually happen, I mean I will talk about it with them eventually, but it’s not the first thing on my mind right now.
When I first came out as a lesbian (I don’t identify as such anymore) I felt a strong need to prove to others that I was, in fact, a lesbian. I would dress in what I thought would make me “look” queer and have some rainbow trinket on me so that people could “tell.” For me, that was all part of the process of experimenting and figuring out what feels right. Nowadays I identify as queer/pansexual and I find that I come out to a lot of people in different ways. I come out to non-queer people as queer and I come out to queer people as like.. sometimes dating straight cis guys. And maybe I would be a little more worried about coming out if I wasn’t so used to doing it all the time already. And I’m finally at a place where I’ve accepted the fluidity in my identity. So like, if I like guys more at a certain time… and don’t really care the next moment… it’s all good.
The last thing I want to write about is how coming out is political.
Okay, I think that everything is political, whether or not people want to acknowledge it. It just depends on what light you see it in. But coming out is really political, even in the smallest ways…
I was at a conference earlier this year and in one of the workshops, we broke up into groups of 4-5 people and shared personal stories. Note: this was not a queer-specific conference. Someone in my group shared something about having to “accept gay people” and pretty much said it in a way that told me they assumed no one in our group is queer. So when it was my turn to share, I came out. And in my head I was like, “YEAH check your assumptions.” I’m guessing if I looked like what they thought queer people look like, they wouldn’t have shared what they did. But because I “pass” as straight, they felt OK in saying that. So I showed that queer people who look like me exist.
You never know, something as little as that could blow someone’s mind.
At the end of the day, if you’re queer or trans, it is not your job to educate people or to come out in order to prove something. I’m just one of those people who have decided to do so as much as I feel comfortable. But I would never ask everyone to do the same.