Today is a very special day across the world. Despite the hashtag only reading “national”, internationally people are coming out or sharing their stories of the day they came out as LBGT+ to friends and family.
I myself came out to my friends slowly while I was in high school and then wasn’t at all subtle or secretive once college came around. I was tired of hiding who I was while making friends and adopted the mindset of “If they want to be phobic, then go for it. It’s just a sign that I don’t need that person in my life.” Of course, it still wasn’t easy as I started having doubts in terms of my gender. I knew I liked everyone, regardless of their gender (ie. pansexual) but I wasn’t sure where I fell on the gender spectrum. I spent a long time flip-flopping between hyper feminine clothing or high-end men’s clothing. I wore binders for weeks on end and then would suddenly be in heels, a dress, and with full makeup on. It was really confusing for me – was I cisgender? Was I trans? – until I came to terms with the concept of simply not identifying as either. Genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, non-binary, gender neutral; there are dozens of words for people who don’t feel they fall into the binary. All that matters to me is that there is a word for such a thing. I learned that I wasn’t alone in struggling with this idea and I wasn’t the only one who didn’t feel like they fit into a specific category.
Almost a full year ago, I came out to my family. They don’t get the genderqueer thing, but I let that slide because – in all honesty – I didn’t expect them to. What matters to me is that they knew I wasn’t straight so they would stop asking such foolish questions like “So have you met a nice boy yet?” (yes, this is a question I’ve been asked repeatedly by family). My coming out story isn’t an exciting one. I emailed my mom after I was tired of having to say the girl I was with at the time was “my friend”. I wanted to show her off, introduce her to people, and be unafraid of holding her hand or sitting too close together when she was over. The response? “I know 😉 I just want you to be happy.” No, seriously, that was it. Short and sweet and no questions asked. It was great. Even now that that relationship is over, there’s no having to explain to people that I’m still queer and will always identify as such.
So here we are. I’m no longer in the closet, I’m helping friends out as well when they come to me for encouragement, and I’m proud. I’m writing stories about queer characters to give readers someone to look up to the way I looked up to fictional characters like Willow and Tara in Buffy or even Will from Will and Grace. It is days like this and matters like being queer that make me write, because if I can use my writing to continue helping people be comfortable and proud of who they are, then I will have a happy career. Because we’re in this together. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
PS. – And to those who are still in the closet for any reason whatsoever, remember that it’s okay not to be out. It’s okay to stay somewhere that you know is safe, because not everyone is encouraging or approving. Not everyone can take this news well. It is a sad but honest truth and please just know that no matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, there will be people here to welcome you into the community if the day comes that you’re ready join us. Be safe.