So when did you come out? When did you know? These are questions that as someone who has been out in the queer community for about a decade over and over again. In fact it is often the most frequent question asked of queer people, including in the communities themselves.
For me I don’t know what to answer. Do I saw ten when I was brought as a queerspawn to Pride for the first time? Or how about thirteen when the school found out my mom was bisexual? Or how about fifteen when the school found out I was pansexual? Or how about sixteen when some of my friends found out I was trans or seventeen when other people found out? Or eighteen when I started being in poly relationships? Or how about every time I meet someone new or do a workshop?
Each and every one of these times I’ve come out and I don’t really know which I go with. The core of this is heterosexism and hissexism. In other words, the assumption within society is that unless someone tells you otherwise that they are straight, cis, monogamous, vanilla and that their friends and family are as well.
Once the mere aspect of coming out was a revolutionary act – and for some people in certain communities it still is. To come out was to loose your friends, most of your family, sometimes children and to live a completely different life. Many people currently (in mostly white, western, cis communities) however, still live the life they were living before coming out. One of the recent examples of that is Anderson Cooper who came out to mostly, “oh that is great and it is about time.” Formerly people in public roles were publically outed by radical queer groups to prove the existence of queers everywhere and to challenge hypocrisy, which would then cost them their jobs.
I think within the queer community too much focus is still put upon coming out and more needs to be put on the recognition that coming out for many people is the start or continuation of their life not the be all and end all of it. In the words of Christopher Atkins: “Who cares who comes out of the closet or not, so long as you’re happy?”
So let us focus on what makes us happy and healthy. Let us reinvent the concept of ‘coming out.’ How would you reinvent it?
Jade Pichette: Education Co-ordinator