Friday, January 16, 2015

Why I Came Out

See Wednesday's post, Coming Out Bi.

There are a lot of good reasons to both come out and stay in the closet. It's often a question of safety and financial stability. Some kids are kicked out of their homes when they admit their queerness. Though we make up only between 3% and 11% of the population, queer youth make up 40% of homeless teens. Many others experience being isolated from friend groups, removed from churches, and bullied by peers.

But if you're financially independent and have a supportive group of people around you, there are all sorts of good reasons to come out. Here, in no particular order, are mine.

  1. I want to let other queers know that I'm safe. I understand, I'm here to talk to, and I love and support you. It's really encouraging to find a community of people who understand, where we can talk about our mutual experiences and be normal. I want to offer and participate in that community.
  2. God has urged me to do this for a long time. I couldn't sit down to pray without thoughts of coming out intruding. Friendship and community must be founded on honesty and vulnerability. None of us can change or learn to love unless we let each other into our hearts and lives.
  3. Queers are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than straight peers. They are more likely to be harassed and to experience police violence. Every year, queers are murdered in violent hate crimes. Coming out is my way of standing in solidarity and crying out for change.
  4. Part of the reason for the violence, ostracizing, and inflammatory arguments is the lack of understanding among our straight brothers and sisters. A lot of misinformation gets thrown around about queers being promiscuous, sex-mongers, or child molesters. I want people to observe my life which, until two days ago, everyone thought was as normal as their own, and see that this is what queers are like: pretty much the same as you.
  5. The default assumption in our culture is that you're straight unless you say otherwise. As I talk about LGBT issues, I don't want to give you a false impression. I know full well that some people will only listen when another straight person gives them the facts. On the flip side, some people need to hear it from someone who is queer and has actually experienced the awkwardness, fear, anger, and isolation. I'm done pretending to be something I'm not in this conversation.
  6. It's almost impossible that you don't know other queers. They may be closeted. My coming out is uncomfortable for many people, forcing them to ask deep questions. But if you figure things out now, you'll be more prepared when it's your son, or mentor, or best friend. I want to pave the way for them just like queers of the past did for me.
  7. One day I'll probably have kids. I'll raise them with an awareness that some people have two moms or two dads. I'll tell them it's okay for them to love whoever they love, and pray that when they reach adulthood, they don't face discrimination. I'm building a better world for the sake of their future.
  8. Sexual orientation is not about sex. Orientation is about attraction--thoughts and desires--not actions. I know plenty of people who waited awhile to have sex, but that doesn't mean they weren't straight before! I had attraction to men and women long before I had sex. Many people wonder why married bisexuals bother coming out, since we're stuck with whatever gender of partner we married. But if I call myself straight and then talk about my past and the girls I loved, you're going to be confused. Coming out tells you who I am on the inside.
  9. Biphobia and bi-erasure are real things. Some gays think we're not gay enough while many straight people don't know what to do with us. We confuse everyone. By coming out, I hope to educate others about bisexuality and queer issues.
  10. I'm tired of explaining the bi and gay characters in my stories.
  11. I want to see more churches figuring out how to handle the queers in their pews. We're there. Many of us aren't there, because we left when someone told us yet again that we would burn in the fires of hell because of how we are wired. Churches need to consider not just how to end offenses against queers, but also how to actively welcome queers in.
  12. Lastly, I want people to think before they speak. I've had a lot of experiences of people telling stories that throw gays into a negative light. "She thought I was a lesbian. Can you believe that? I don't look anything like a lesbian." When someone's offended at being associated with us, they send the message that we're not welcome. When they say, "don't buy that shirt; it looks gay," or make a joke that presumes bis just want to sleep around, they hurt us and further harmful stereotypes.
    I want people to know that when they say hurtful or ignorant things, they're saying them against me. I don't want to shame people or make you feel bad. I want you to desire to be educated! I want you to engage in dialogue, ask questions, and simply apologize if you accidentally say something hurtful. I want to be treated with the dignity of a fellow human being.

Word count: 920.