by Cynthia Piña, SFU Student
Ever since high school, I had my suspicions I wasn’t straight. I brushed it off for years, but I eventually came to understand and accept that part of me. As I embraced this aspect of my identity, I felt an unnerving pressure to suddenly come out to everyone around me. It felt like I needed to create a list of names of who to come out to. I needed to find a time, place, and set the scene for my big reveal. But the more people I told about my sexuality, the more I felt like I was sharing a part of me I didn’t need to.
I kept questioning why people needed to know my sexual orientation and why I had to come out simply to erase their perception that I was straight.
I understand coming out is important to many people, and that’s great! I also know coming out is an important aspect of LGBTQIA2S+ history and visibility. However, there was a weight inside of me — when should I tell them? How will they respond? Even though I suspected my friends would be supportive, I felt like I needed their explicit acceptance.
I was plagued by anxiety, hoping no one would see me differently. I wanted the validation that, regardless of my sexuality, people would still love me just the same. Gradually, I realized I didn’t care. Whether they saw me differently or not was their perception of me, not mine.
Some of my experiences coming out to people were better than others. Regardless of how anyone reacted, I felt like something was off. I was never really satisfied. Most of the time, I didn’t feel a magical weight lifted off my chest. I just felt like they knew me a little better. I had opened a very personal part of myself, perhaps when I didn’t need to.
What started to bother me was the new access I had given people into my personal life. Even my fellow queer friends would ask me about who I was going to date next, as if I could simply decide who the next person I fell for would be.
For a while, I felt like a fraud for not wanting to have a huge coming out story for my family. I don’t particularly see myself ever standing in the kitchen, nervously waiting to tell my parents about my sexuality. But after all, wasn’t coming out supposed to be a part of the queer journey? Aren’t my parents either supposed to go into acceptance or denial? In turn, won’t their response shape my identity? After years of consuming media that was focused on coming out, I thought it was just something I was supposed to do. If I didn’t have some grand coming out, I supposed that meant I was hiding and in the closet. I told myself I simply wasn’t “ready,” until I realized I just don’t really care about telling some people.
It’s not that I don’t want people to know my sexuality because I’m ashamed — I’m not. I’m very happy, proud, and comfortable with myself. I know that in romantic relationships, I prefer for my partner to know my sexuality. However, outside of that, I don’t feel like disclosing my sexuality and don’t feel the need to. I don’t actively try to hide it unless there are circumstances that require me to do so. Among friends, I might bring it up if I feel like it — or maybe I won’t. I just think we should all collectively stop assuming everyone is straight unless told otherwise.
I don’t feel the need to come out and tell the world about who I’m capable of loving. I think it’s beautiful that I can love multiple genders. I don’t care for the whole world to know this aspect of me. I’m enjoying being quietly queer however I want to be. It has taken me long enough to realize that these are valid feelings.
If you want to explicitly come out to people, then do so! However, for those who aren’t ready, who may put themselves in unsafe situations, or who simply don’t want to — that’s also fine. Part of my experience may be shaped by the fact that, because I am attracted to multiple genders, in some cases, I would appear to be in a heterosexual relationship. However, it’s not a requirement of the LGBTQIA2S+ community to have a coming out story. We should all be free to be queer in whatever way we want to be.