Last year I wrote my own post here for National Coming Out Day, on why it’s important to me to be out. This year I wrote on some social media sites about why I would like anyone who feels safe doing so to come out as whatever they can, even if it’s just “I’m an ally to people with marginalized identities.” Instead of repeating myself again here, I offered this space as an anonymous platform for a friend on the other side of the closet door.
National Coming Out Day makes me a little bit sad. Y’see, I’m not coming out.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to come out about — I’m queer, poly, and kinky. The typical narrative is that coming out is a joyous, amazing thing — the ability to live your life in a way that’s true to yourself and brings you the most happiness. But it’s not just that. Coming out can bring sadness. After all, the whole reason coming out is even a thing is because you’re coming out as being a part of some marginalized group. When’s the last time you heard someone come out as straight?
But fuck the haters, you say. Anyone who doesn’t love the real, true you isn’t worthy of your time, your attention, your thoughts. And hey, I even agree with you sometimes! When I meet new people, when I’m in a place that’s remotely safe for it, I will be openly myself. The problem isn’t those people, those anonymous others I didn’t know and don’t really care about. The problem is anyone I already do. My family has told me in as many words that they do not think polyamory or kinky sex are okay or normal. My extended family has told me the same thing about homosexuality, and I don’t know if they even believe in bisexuality.
It’s tempting to say “Screw them, too! PRIDE!”, but then I remember that I’m finally feeling like I can interact with my parents like a mature adult. Our relationship was rocky for years of my childhood, and now we can actually talk without getting angry at each other. That relationship, which increasingly has actual meaning to me, would probably be hugely damaged if I told them. The damage would be from their intolerance, but it would still come about via my choice. So I don’t come out, and every year that’s a choice I make again.
Similarly, I intend to be and stay employed/employable, with the option of going into professions where personal character matters more than most. I’m not sure where the lines are, but it’s safer to stay on one side — so I don’t holler this stuff at the internet, and I edit some conversations to make some relationships sound a bit more serial than they actually were. It’s the same for any other time I put on my public face — I choose a certain kind of effectiveness over truthfulness, and it’s still a bargain I choose to make.
For all this, I’m not in the closet either. All my friends know. People who randomly pass me on dates in my city know. People I meet at cons, on the internet, at my alma mater, they all know. I’ve achieved an awkward, imperfect, workable balance, wherein I’ve got enough space to live as myself but I’m not suffering from that openness. I wish I didn’t have to.