By Emma Simpson,
The Gay Agenda
Coming out as LGBTQ is often portrayed as a one-time grand gesture that alerts all of someone’s friends and family at once that they’re not straight/cisgender.
Although a grand gesture is certainly one valid way of coming out, it is by no means the only way, nor does it always mean that someone is done coming out to everyone in their life. I didn’t have a big coming out, though before I was openly gay I often fantasized about posting on Facebook or blurting it out to my entire family with no warning.
I told people a few at a time, as I felt comfortable, starting with my closest friends and working my way up to my immediate family, but even now that I’m completely out of the closet and publicly in love with the most beautiful woman in the world, I find myself coming out in smaller doses very frequently.
The reason for this prolonged coming out is that society considers straightness/cisgenderism to be the default. If someone doesn’t indicate otherwise, they are presumed to be straight and/or cisgender, which can be really hard for people who are struggling with their initial coming out as well as those who are simply existing as queer people in a society that considers them to be unusual.
People who are LGBTQ are everywhere, and there is truly more acceptance of our community recently than there has been in years past, but we are far from in the clear. With LGBT Pride Month nearly upon us, I’ve found myself thinking about this time last year and how my life has changed since then. At that point, Tori and I had been dating only one or two months and I had recently conquered the daunting task of coming out to my family and friends.
It seemed that the “hard part,” so to speak, was over, but looking back on my perception of my own queerness I find that my mindset has changed almost immeasurably, largely due to the fact that I have learned through experiences, both good and bad, that coming out is not a one-time thing.
Meeting new people can be stressful without the added pressures of deciding if or how soon I should reveal to them that I’m gay. I am fortunate enough to feel comfortable being openly queer in regards to pretty much every aspect of my life as it comes up organically in conversation, but for some people it might not be as comfortable.
Depending on the climate of someone’s social environment, they may fear adverse reactions to this part of their identity. I mean, even in a college town like Keene, Tori and I find ourselves feeling obligated to act very coupley in front of potential landlords as we tour apartments, just on the off chance that someone would be uncomfortable with our relationship, because we simply wouldn’t make the choice to live there.
The lives of people who are queer are often filled with thoughts and conscious actions such as this. Hopefully one day people who are LGBTQ can live their truths openly and without fear, but until then it should, at the very least, be acknowledged that coming out is a deeply personal and ongoing experience.
However someone chooses to come out, to whom, and in what time are all variables with innumerable options and thought processes, and they are all okay. Happy almost Pride Month!
Tori Tucker and Emma Simpson created The Gay Agenda as students at Keene State College. It is posted every Sunday at InDepthNH.org and Manchester Ink Link.
Tori Tucker was born and raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She is a student, author, and activist, and just graduated from Keene State College with a BA in English-Writing and minors in music and German.
She was an intern at InDepthNH.org.
Emma Simpson is a Women’s and Gender Studies major currently in her senior year at Keene State College. She is the vice president of her campus a cappella group and involved with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer.
InDepthNH.org and Manchester Ink Link co-publish The Gay Agenda