Coming out, again and again and again and
An unexpected skill I’ve developed in the eleven months (woah) since coming out, is being able to better maneuver the conversation to lead to my coming out. Until we eradicate the ubiquitous thing that is heteronormativity, myself and all the other gays+ in the world will be coming out for the rest of our lives. We come out to new people we meet, old friends/family we were closeted towards, the annoyingly chatty store clerk who thinks “guys love when you wear crop tops” (if you aren’t too tired from fighting the patriarchy to correct them), et al.
I wrote before about how there’s never a right time to come out – people don’t conduct sexuality check-ups (“Hey, how’s it going? How are the kids? Still straight?“) and because of heteronormativity, the onus is on queer people to come out.
But what’s the right way to come out? To the person you’re coming out to, it will always seem out of the blue.
Straighty: “The weather’s going to be great on Sunday!”
Queerdo: “Totally. I’m gay.”
Straighty: “I just wish my brother was more understanding.”
Queerdo: “My brother understands I am gay. Also I don’t have a brother.”
Straighty: “There’s this new ramen place I wanna check out.”
Queerdo: “Are there cute girls there because that’s what I check out.”
Note: Straighty and Queerdo are fictional names and characters. Any resemblance is purely coincidental.
The first twenty people I came out to, I did in a variety of ways, ranging from drunkenly pulling them off the dance floor to the corner of Clinton’s and telling them “THERE’S NO RIGHT TIME BUT I NEED YOU TO KNOW” etc, to being terrifyingly sober in between episodes of The 100, to stammering nervously in a car merging onto a busy San Fransisco highway*. I documented my coming out to the first twenty people I told – they’re all under My Coming Out Journey tab.
* I managed to violate the one rule of coming out – which is to do so in a safe environment. Pls don’t take my gay card away.
Yesterday, an ex-coworker of mine suggested grabbing dinner over some career advice she wanted. An hour after we’d finished our delicious Cubanos, I had roughly 15 minutes before I had to meet another friend for drinks. I had to manhandle this conversation and steer it into gay territory.
It was a bit of a push, but I brought up the type of company we’d wanna work for next. I mentioned one of my friends working at Apple, which had an LGBTQ support/advancement group. They could (literally) afford to, and they had the number of employees to support it, and I really liked that aspect of working for a big company. She unintentionally hijacked the conversation, bringing up her friend who worked at Apple part-time and was entitled to $2,500 in learning credits per year. I let her run her course before bringing the conversation back, reiterating how important these charitable causes were to employees. “If I’d had access to those resources, I may have come out sooner.”
…Then “Wait what.”
There it was. I repeated myself. Her eyes widened (bless her), “YOU’RE…?”
“Gay, yup” I smiled.
I carried the conversation for the next ten minutes – whether this was out of fear she’d ask something outta left field or because I felt I had more experience in this topic, I’m not sure – and she never brought up my sexuality. Despite her initial shock, it didn’t really seem like a big issue.
But I felt pretty proud about the way I handled it. Although I’m no longer with that company, it was the first time I’d come out to a(n ex)co-worker. Nobody in my industry knows. I don’t think it’s important that they know. I said before that “there’s never a right time to come out” but the truth might be that seeing opportunities to come out is a muscle you have to flex. As a babyqueer, it’s much harder to spot, but I think I’m getting better at finding openings and seizing them. Or making my own.
It doesn’t get easier – you just get better.