National Coming Out Day: Just leave me out of it
So, in case you didn’t realize, I’m a queer person. That’s the short and the long of it. There isn’t much to tell, and it’s not something I enjoy discussing. But if I were to be asked, as I often am by people with widened eyes and hushed tones, it’s just like being anything else — and I do mean anything else. It is a simple matter of circumstance, like being short or being female or having blue eyes or being into comic books or liking horror movies. I can’t tell you what it’s like to be something when I don’t know else to be. My dating women is just one tiny part of a much larger picture.
It’s like breathing. It’s automatic. And it’s none of your business.
I don’t wear badges or armbands. I don’t have bumper stickers or window decals or march in pride parades. If you do, that’s fine, but it’s not my scene. What labels I carry around under my jacket has nothing to do with anybody else, twice-folded and tucked away as they are, forgotten most days. They are not up to scrutiny or debate, or to be worn on shirt-sleeves for everybody to see and ask me about. While I exist under these shared umbrella terms and statistics, my struggles are my own, my concerns private to my experiences. No matter what you were told, we are not the same. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just a fact.
I get why we have days like National Coming Out Day. I get why we have Pride Weekend. I get why people paint their bodies and march arm-in-arm, waving signs and making others take notice. These exercises in solidarity are reasonable for people in need of safe spaces, but they’re not for me. I’ve been dragged unwillingly out of closets, both real and imagined, by people who “just want to clear the air.” I’ve been chased into uncomfortable situations by the well-intentioned (and the not-so-well-intentioned) who assumed too much. Most of the time, the biggest offenders are other queer people, who take it upon themselves to decide what’s best for me. This is why I don’t like days like Coming Out Day. It’s like having everybody at a party stare at you the moment you walk into the room. Suddenly, for one day, you’re the topic of conversation.
Are you out? If so, how out are you? How out is out, anyway? If you are out, are you a visible member of the community? Are you doing enough for everybody else? Are you queer enough to meet your designated monthly quota? Are you attracted to me? If not, why aren’t you attracted to me? Why don’t you go to gay bars? Why do lesbians do that thing I don’t like? Why can’t you justify the actions of other lesbians to me on command like a trained dog? What do you mean, you’re monogamous? I thought you were a lesbian?
Imagine being a curiosity to straight people the rest of the year, then becoming a pariah to other queers on high holidays and special occasions. Imagine that you just can’t win, no matter what you do, because somebody, somewhere, is going to judge you for whatever it is you are or aren’t doing for everybody else. After a while, if you’re me, you’re going to stop caring. My being queer is not important to me. It’s doesn’t weigh on me, or rouse me, or make me any better or worse a person for it. I still get up every day. I go to work, I pay my bills, I write things. This is what I would be doing with or without these labels and pride parades that I have no use for. I’m not beholden to anyone because I happen to fall under another’s umbrella.
If you need the parades and the calendar holidays, I understand. Maybe you need that sense of togetherness and safety; that someone, somewhere has your back, because maybe those close to you don’t. Maybe this is what helps you through the dark times, because, no, it doesn’t always get better. Maybe you just need a few days a year to feel free to be yourself, in whatever form that takes. I understand. I feel for you, I truly do, and I wish you the best.
But this isn’t my day to share, and I’m okay with that.