I usually make some kind of comment about National Coming Out Day, though usually just a few sentences about bi invisibility, biphobia from the gay community, labels, legislation, or just pride and rainbows and glitter. I thought I’d do something slightly longer than 140 characters today, though: the coming out story.
It’s been about 12 years since I started coming out as bi. (I say “started” because, as we too often perceive a person’s sexual orientation based on the relationship they’re currently in, bisexual visibility is difficult, and the coming out process seems to never really be finished. That’s a whole other blog entry right there, though.) As far as I can tell, I’m kind of a coming-out anomaly: there really wasn’t much in the way of a long, drawn-out process of confusion, denial, self-loathing, fear… oh, I was plenty angsty as a teenager, just not for reasons of sexual orientation. I was a sophomore in high school, and I had a crush on a guy and a girl. Pretty straightforward. (Biforward?) My reaction upon realizing it was something along the lines of, “Hmmm. Okay then.” As soon as there was a closet, I felt no overwhelming need to stay in it… I had a pretty easy time of it, and I consider myself incredibly lucky for that. Madison was and continues to be a very LGBTQ-friendly city, and saying “that’s so gay” at my high school would probably win you some dirty looks. Had I experienced major harassment for coming out, the support network would’ve been right there. So, I told my friends fairly nonchalantly, got involved with my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (later as co-president) and Proud Theater, and went back to blowing off my English homework.
Boring story, Kat. It'd make a terrible after school special. Where’s the drama?
For many people, the coming out process is experienced in extreme ways: they may face ostracization, harassment, depression; they may risk losing their job or getting kicked out of their house. (Don’t even get me started on Russia.) Or, conversely, coming out may be a huge celebration filled with hugs and happy tears as they finally publicly embrace their identity. So I wanted to post my own story as a reminder of the stories that tend not to get told -- the mundane. My coming out wasn’t hugely positive or negative, it just… was. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I hope that as the world becomes a more accepting place to be LGBTQ, more people will be able to experience coming out as just a natural progression, not a nerve-racking, earth-shattering event, and the closet will start to be rendered obsolete. (Though if you still want to have a big glittery coming out party, more power to ya.)
Happy National Coming Out Day!