It’s about You, me and all of us.
I think it’s fair to say that when we think about coming out, most of us would default to the idea that it’s about someone claiming their sexual orientation or identity. This is true, Coming Out is a rainbow term, with a rainbow history. But if we look deeper, it is an experience that can teach us a lot about what truth, trust and love are.
Coming out is about being human, and it is not an experience purely limited to those under the rainbow umbrella.
At its core, coming out is about making or taking a stand to live your truth. Coming out is a part of a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing who you are. It can be a gradual course or one that is very sudden. Sure, you could see someone or something that confirms and unboxes a hidden truth of your sexual orientation or identity, but you could have just found out you have a type of Hepatitis or HIV. Or you could have spent time in jail, or want to shift from one major political or religious position to another. In any case there’s a moment where you are confronted with a truth that you personally can’t deny, and there’ll come a time when you will want or need to tell others.
Coming out can be a very difficult process, because it is an offering of trust to those you choose to come out to. It is a declaration of honesty of who you are, and a quest to be a part of the community, whatever that may look like.
Yet our society strongly enforces dominant codes of behaviour and as such you may feel ashamed, isolated, and afraid.
Although coming out can be difficult, it can also be very liberating. When you own who you are, the truth is like a superpower, because it empowers you to grow and transform. It’s like a personal shield that stops people trying to control you, and it’s your very own people filter of who gets to be your friend.
That’s the point, coming out is self-acceptance – you approve of you. You may find a whole community of people like you and feel supported and inspired. Even if it’s scary to think about coming out to others, the reward is worth the challenge that coming out entails. Sadly, when we push down, hide, or reject parts of ourselves, that part of us WILL come out in other ways – usually it will be negative or unhealthy.
If only people understood what a truly beautiful thing it is for someone to come out to them. It fosters a sense of community and love, which often leads to people finding better, more informed care. The act alone can also actually relieve the pain that hiding in plain sight does to the mind, body and soul.
So, if you are thinking about coming out, there are some things you should consider.
- Coming out is a process. You may choose to tell your family or friends, sometimes right away, sometimes later, and there will be people you won’t tell at all. And that’s ok, it’s called a healthy boundary.
- Coming out isn’t a one-time thing. Many people assume that everyone they meet is “normal” (whatever the fuck that is). Coming out is a constant process. Every time you meet someone new, you get to decide if, when, and how to come out.
- Coming out can have benefits and risks. You may feel safer not coming out in certain situations. You don’t have to be out everywhere, all the time. You can decide what’s best for you.
No doubt about it, coming out is complex, often very difficult and different for everyone. But it can bring about a lot of positive change.
By choosing my truth, the sweet and brutal truth for who I am, I am living an empowered life I never dreamt possible for myself. Even when my heart has been broken, or a relationship with a family member is forever changed because I’ve come out, I’m still 100% happier than before I came out, because coming out is actually about coming in.