Coming out has long been portrayed as the biggest part of the LGBT experience. Movies like ‘Love, Simon‘ really emphasise the importance of coming out. ‘on your own terms’ but still… the importance of coming out. Growing up, I watched coming out videos on Youtube (of mostly white Youtubers) who would say “it gets better” or “your parents come around eventually” etc. But as I grow older I begin to realise that this is not realistic or safe for me to do. As a queer woman of colour, there’s a lot more to unpack than the fact that I’m queer. The culture is different. I love my parents and would do anything for them, as emotionally abusive as they are, I still carry so much love and respect for them. The concept of coming out and saying, “f*ck you mum and dad if you don’t accept me” doesn’t work for me. Being ‘selfish’ is not an option, because ultimately it goes against my core belief system and that’s to put them first in every decision I make.
Of course, some element of that is not healthy, but that’s for me and my therapist to talk about. Nevertheless, it exists. I saw a video on Tiktok that was talking about how for queer POC the idea of ‘coming in’ rather than coming out made more sense. What they meant by that was because coming out is such an unsafe move to make, letting specific people in your life know is all you need. A few people you can trust and feel safe enough to tell. “Letting in” the people who have shown you love and acceptance is much more appealing to me than the pressure of having to come out.
Western media has made it seem like coming out is a quintessential part of being queer, when in reality, whether you come out or not, your very being IS queer. I began to slowly fall into the trap of coming out when I was younger, but I’m incredibly glad and grateful that I didn’t go through with it. It’s like setting off a bomb that could never be taken back. I’m happy for those who are able to come out and be proud, but in the same instance, I am just as mindful of those who recognise it isn’t wise to do that. These people are just as valid. “Coming out” culture puts young teens in vulnerable positions where they feel they have to prove their queerness by going to pride or wearing a gay flag, but really it’s only putting them in danger.
For a long time, I felt that my experience of queerness was invalid because I didn’t announce it to people. But at this point, I can recognise that I’d rather be alive and healthy with a semi-okay relationship with my family than to completely disregard how coming out could affect my life. I no longer have the urge to 1. Tell people I’m queer and then regret it instantly and 2. Come out to my family.
I don’t owe anyone shit and no I don’t have to tell my friends, it doesn’t make it any more real. Knowing how to set boundaries and when to let people into that part of your life, in my opinion, is more important than being out and proud. And you can still be unapologetically queer in the comfort of your closet. Because to a lot of people, coming out is unrealistic.
Overall, LGBT month is exciting and it’s a great celebration of pride. However, it’s also totally okay if you want to spend this month celebrating between you, yourself, and the few friends you might trust. ‘coming out’ culture isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t the only way to express your queerness.