As the spectrum of sexuality and gender has expanded,so has the coming out experience. Short for “coming out of the closet”, the process of telling friends, family, peers and strangers that you don’t adhere to society’s definition of heterosexuality and gender can be nerve wrecking. People who are openly queer risk disapproval and shunning from their communities and at times their safety from those who may react so negatively as to physically harm them. On the other hand, not coming out can also have repercussions. Having to constantly hide an essential part of yourself at school, work, in general is stressful and can drive one’s anxiety through the roof. Additionally you may be putting your health at risk by not informing your doctor who can address health issues that pertain to the LGBTQ community. Not being transparent can hinder your development as a human being.
What Do I Come Out As?
An issue with the idea of coming out is that it feels reserved for people with clean cut identities. Coming out means labeling yourself to the world, but what happens when those labels don’t actually encompass who you are. Queer serves as a wonderful umbrella term for all non-traditional gender identities and sexual orientations, but most people want specifics. As one queer person commented, this makes things difficult.” I really think I identify as gender fluid, and it fits me really well as far as labels go. (Though I don't like labels, when people ask I at least have something to say so they don't flip total shit from my not conforming to social norm). Should I give my personal definition, but just water it down a bit so they're able to grasp the concept, or what?”-Peiton. Coming out in itself can be limiting to those who live outside even the norms for the LGBTQ community.
Struggling Once You’re Out:
In their article, Coming Out as Genderqueer Non Binary (Outside of and Within the Queer Community), Michal ‘MJ’ Jones explains the difficulty of being openly non-binary. People ask them if they are a “boy or girl” and question why they would wear clothing that may confuse others as to what their sexuality and gender is. To which Jones responds that their gender identity is essential to who they are, but makes everyday interactions difficult at times. “On days where I struggle to accept what non-binary gender means for me, the root of the struggle is almost always from an internalized pressure to transition in order to “pass” in a way that makes more sense to the people around me.”.
Does It Even Matter?:
As being queer in all facets and forms has become more widely accepted, some question the need to come out nowadays. There are young children who haven’t reached puberty but already understand that they live outside the social norms of sexuality and gender. Shantell Yasmine Abeydeera asked in her article What is the Big Deal with Coming Out as Queer?, “Without a specific label like Gay or Bi, are they really Coming Out? That being said, has the process of Coming Out become antiquated in contemporary society? What does Queer actually mean in our modern culture? Or does it not mean anything specific at all and is that actually the point in itself?” Without undergoing the difficult process of coming out, Abeydeera wonders if being a member of the gay community has altered. She ties the ritual to preparing yourself to be an advocate for LGBTQ rights,”Being Queer does mean something, It means you are not afraid to be yourself, and love yourself. It also means it’s your responsibility to express that at every opportunity you get and that is the big deal.”