My Coming Out story isn’t a particularly entertaining or enthralling one. It involved getting absolutely blind drunk several times a month in order to muster up the courage to tell my closest friends that I’m gay. This process stretched agonisingly over quite some time, telling a select few every time I got sufficiently hammered. It was going well, and then I remembered I had to tell my family. For many, coming out to your family is the largest hurdle. They’re this beacon of unconditional love and support, and the thought of losing or even jeopardising that love, and the way they perceive you, is harrowing. Like many others, the intensity of Coming Out was too much, and it left me feeling pissed off and bitter.
If you haven’t seen it, there’s an incredibly saddening yet somewhat empowering TED talk called “All the Little Things” by Irish Drag Queen and activist Panti Bliss. Much of the lecture talks about the politics of simply holding hands in public, which opens up into a much greater discussion on society and the LGBTQ community:
“We live in this sort of homophobic world, and you might think that a small little thing like holding hands in public… well it’s just a small thing. And you’re right; it is indeed just a small thing. But it is one of many small things that make us human. And there are lots of small things every day that LGBT people have to put up with that other people don’t have to put up with.”
In context, this quote continues to talk about how we should be content because we don’t live in a country where we’re persecuted. But in another sense, it brings to mind: why isn’t sexuality a small thing? We’ve been conditioned to live within these systematic binaries of gender and sexuality, which make it an absolute bitch for anyone who exists outside of what society dictates as ‘the norm’: being cisgender and heterosexual. It brings in this fear of not being accepted, it makes who I’m sexually attracted to into a big deal.
This is why National Coming Out Day is so important: society still views us as the ‘other’. I cannot deny that I am unbelievably privileged and grateful for the entirely positive reaction that my family and friends had. Yet, it still brings into question why the whole process for me, and so many others like me, was such a torturous one?
Why did I have to get blind drunk to muster up the courage to tell people? Why did I refuse to say a word until I left high school due to the fear of getting the absolute shit kicked out of me?
Saying it does become so much easier over time, but feeling an obligation to inform every individual you’ve ever come into contact with before you come out is just the worst.
Anyway, back to my Coming Out story: I went downstairs and awkwardly loitered in the kitchen whilst my Mum hung some washing up. I blurted it out, she says “okay”, I immediately ran upstairs and hid under my duvet. I asked her to tell everyone else in the family because it was just too much.
It cannot be denied that we’ve come a long way and most people are very loving and accepting of who we are. Coming Out was incredibly personal; I’d surrendered to the idea that my sexuality would ultimately burn bridges. It’s the same for many others, and you need to be able to put up a finger to heteronormativity and cisnormativity and go about it the way you want to.
Angry Gay out *mic drop*.
All the little things | Panti | TEDxDublin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=412&v=hIhsv18lrqY