Coming out: why it’s still relevant
Bethany Donkin talks to Morgan Buswell about coming out and the relief and challenges that followed it.
“When did you come out as straight?” has been LUU’s catchy, thought provoking caption for LGBT history month. For many people, sexuality is something they’ve never had to question or think about, let alone have to talk to parents, family and friends about. I caught up with Morgan Buswell to discuss how he came out and why coming out is still relevant.
“Coming out to your parents is the hardest one…depending on who your parents are. I came out to my mum when I was 16 and my dad when I was 17. I’d had a crush on this guy from school for ages – and I made out to my mum that it was nothing and we were just friends, but I think she clocked on that I liked him and she outright asked me; are you gay?
She was fine with it, she wasn’t upset with the notion I was gay, she was just initially upset with the loss of her potential grandchildren. But she came to accept that I could still adopt.
With my dad, we’d just been to the theatre and I made a joke about being gay and I didn’t think he’d pick up on it and he outright asked me as well. He was a lot better about it than mum which I didn’t expect. He also said he’d expected it for a long time. He went off to think about it and he called me from the pub and said ‘I love you anyway and everything is fine’. Both my parents were very acceptant; I am very privileged in that respect, not everyone has that.”
Did you feel relieved after you had told them?
“I felt relief, after they accepted it rather than when I told them. It was good to get it off my chest. Not everyone is that lucky to be able to tell their parents and for them to be that accepting”
How would you explain ‘coming out’ to someone that has never done it?
It’s like being born with a birth mark that you can’t inherently help, but you have to explain it all the time to people. It’s difficult, there’s more than one kind of ’coming out’, you have to come out to your friends, parents, colleagues- work is a big thing when you’re coming out!”
I’ve noticed when I’ve been applying for jobs online recently they ask my sexual preference and religious views to try and get “diversity” into the work place.
“I think it’s abhorrent that they’d ask my sexuality. It’s none of their business.
In one way it is helpful because it gives minorities jobs, but alternatively how do you know that the employee isn’t looking at this and just employing straight white people? I know they want to fill a diversity quota…but stop work fetishizing me! Take me on my talent and capability to do things.”
Should we scrap the notion of coming out completely? Why should anyone ever have to come out?
“That would take the complete rewriting of societies rules. In an ideal world no one would assume your sexuality or gender. Assumptions are a big problem- but that’s what happens living in a straight white patriarchy- society likes putting things in a box. Labels aren’t always a bad thing, but I think we should get to know people first and ask them, rather than assigning them a label and put them in a box without asking them.”
So why do you think it’s important to come out?
“It’s very personal and dependent on personal circumstance. I think it’s important to come out for your own mental health. If I had to keep that secret for any longer, it would have driven me insane. Even if I had to keep it a secret from strangers I’d feel I was living a lie; it would weigh heavy on me.
Coming out is ultimately not for anyone else; it’s for yourself.
The important thing about coming out is that it normalises being gay. There’s a feeling of being the ‘other’, if two men walk down the street holding hands; everyone looks. I think that’s why it’s important for celebrities to come out too, we need to normalise this behaviour so people can see that it’s not taboo.”