Terms & (un)Conditional Love Applies
Last Friday was National Coming Out Day (if I’d known, this would have been last week’s post…). Every year I would see posts and snapchat filters celebrating the day with encouraging messages for those who were about to take this step and I would message my friends (the ones who knew about my sexuality) and say something like LOL peak for me.
However, this was the first year of me being the other side of the fence, or rainbow.
It made me think about the six months since I had come out to my parents. I had experienced my first Pride Season as an openly gay person, which I had commemorated with the release of my book (*cough* *cough* you can buy your copy on this website *cough*), exhibited my work in a group graduate exhibition and had my work chosen to be displayed at Graduate Fashion Week. What a way to acknowledge this pivotal moment in my life! Very much “I’m here & I’m queer, get used to it”.
Throughout the day I had been seeing posts about coming out to yourself. This was something that I hadn’t considered before but definitely something that I resonated with. Before I could even think about coming out to anyone, I first had to come out to myself.
Being Queer, before you can get to a place of acceptance, you are confronted with denial. It was a long process for me to come to terms with my sexual identity. Looking back, one of the main things I had to come to terms with was other people’s opinions and how they can’t affect my happiness. Someone else’s opinion is none of my business. Once I removed the third party judgements, which Brenda (remember her?) kept at the forefront of my mind, I had removed the shame. This third party angst surrounded those who I love not loving me back and religion. I realised that I don’t need to have things in my life that bring negativity and if they can’t accept me, I can't accept them.
Once I had gotten to this place of self-acceptance, it was possible to start living my authentic self and let people in. The first person I chose to tell was someone that had been open about their queerness with me. They could relate to my experiences and I felt comfortable and safe to tell them. I didn’t know that we would be having this conversation until about three hours beforehand. It was after the Sixth Form Ball and I had had some (a lot of) Dutch Courage. The timing was perfect too. This would be the last time that I would be around the majority of the people at school as I was about to go away to uni. A new start.
Telling her made telling others so much easier. When I went to uni people would assume my sexuality and I wouldn’t correct them. There was no need to hide it anymore. There was no threat of things getting back to my family before I had had a chance to tell them myself. It was liberating to not carry this facade or have the paranoia.
There are some things that I think are important to share with the heterosexuals that find themselves reading this post:
DO NOT ASK IF SOMEONE IS GAY
I always say “If you’re not trying to date me then why do you need to know?” The person you’re asking may not be ready to come out just yet and they may not have come out to themselves yet. They are probably trying to come to terms with it themselves. Also, they might not be gay…
WHEN SOMEONE COMES OUT TO YOU, DON’T SAY “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?!”
They will let you know when they feel safe/comfortable and when the time is right.
DON’T ASK QUESTIONS YOU WOULDN’T ASK YOUR STRAIGHT FRIENDS
Don’t ask awkward questions about their sex life. You don’t need to know that…
DON’T SAY “I KNEW IT!”
Do you want a fvcking medal…? Or is this your way of telling me that you have Gay-dar 👀