Coming out is a process, a really shitty one as a matter of fact.
( @thechermuseum // Twitter )
When I came out to my family, I did not say the official words that would seal my fate. I did not sit mom and dad down after a Crockpot meal and properly announce the three dreaded words, “I am gay.”
In fact, it was much easier than that.
One day, after a hard couple hours of middle school, my mom decided to go through my phone. No she did not find gay porn, nor did she find an undelivered poetic letter that declared my homosexuality. She simply found a photo of myself with a full beat of drag-style makeup.
Following her discovery of the photo, she texted me, “Does this mean what I think it means?”
I responded, “Yes.”
My mother later told my father and the news eventually trickled down into the ears of my older brother and younger sister.
Finally, I had defeated Goliath. The beast I had run from my entire childhood had finally been slain.
Or so I thought...
When my family had found out I was a lil baby queer, I was still a morbidly obese middle schooler who listened to Melanie Martinez and Twenty One Pilots. Although they knew of what I was, there was still so much of myself that felt suffocated, like I had never left the closet at all. There was still so much I didn’t understand. I was naive--the furthest thing from being 'proud'.
As I transitioned into high school, that feeling persisted.
When I saw the gay martyr (the only openly queer person) at my high school, I would cringe at them. Something about the way they dyed their hair electric blue and talked about whatever, whenever made me angry. This anger, I would later learn, was rooted in jealousy.
I had thought for so long that I was living ‘out and proud’ but the truth is, I wasn’t even out at all.
Not only was my sexuality no longer a secret, but I had a support system. And still, 'proud' was not the way I felt. Instead, I felt guilty. I mean, there are individuals my age that would’ve killed to have a strong relationship with a family that embraced their sexuality. Meanwhile, I would cringe at the sight of a Pride flag if I was with my family on vacation.
It felt like there was this immense pressure to be happy and rejoice in my apparent privilege, but I wasn’t quite ready. I was consumed by a combination of shame and guilt that suffocated my pride,
I felt that I didn’t deserve this privilege to be loved.
This may come as a shock because the idea of coming out of the closet seems really simple, like, “SURPRISE, I’M GAY!” and then Lady Gaga and Cher burst down the door with rainbow confetti. But, it’s not simple at all. It is messy and heteronormative.
Anyone can proclaim anything, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it is true. As was the case of my evolving relationship with my sexuality. I would say that I was gay, but I was still very much in the closet.
It wasn’t until quarantine (rip rona xD), the summer after graduating high school, that I had the chance to fully come to terms with my sexuality. Sitting alone, with just my thoughts, and the literal piece of Pop genius known as Chromatica, I had an epiphany. I realized that I was not just gay, I was SUPER gay--like really fucking gay.
The point of my story is not to rub it in your face that my parents were chill with me being gay, but to explain that the process of coming out is extremely difficult. It is one that no one describes as being extensive but it really is, which totally sucks I may add.
I had become so complacent in acting like a ‘superior’ gay, that I didn’t address my own homophobia. I was brought up in a world where hetero men are powerful and seen as the leaders. A constant lack of representation left me to drown in heteronormative bullshit until I came to accept my sexuality as fact. My implicit biases led me to believe that masculinity was synonymous with superiority, but this obviously is far from the truth.
The comfort of the closet allowed me to run from who I truly was, but sometimes you get tired of running and have to take the truth head on.
Following this pride and going forward, no matter who or what you are, please know that you are loved. In or out of the closet, I encourage y’all to take a step back and think about where you are in your own coming out story. How has your privilege shaped your journey? How can you help someone take the next steps in coming to terms with their sexuality?
Finally, I wanna leave all you closeted besties with this,
It is far easier to sink into the slums of the closet than to live loudly in the sun, but just know, nothing good grows in the closet.