Oct. 11 was National Coming Out Day. I do not speak for the queer community — in fact I speak for no communities. I only speak for myself with the hope that I can contribute to uplifting queer narratives and maybe even help someone feel less alone in their own relationship to their sexuality.
This wonderful, celebratory day has prompted a lot of reflection for me on what it means to come out and how that concept applies to my life. I have not come out, not really, because I am not sure what I would be coming out as, or why I would be doing it. Do I announce that I feel attracted to humans other than men? Should I tell everyone that I like to kiss people that identify as something other than the gender opposite mine?
Originally, I felt pulled to write, “I continue to wrestle with my sexuality,” but that honestly does not really hold up for me. I know that I experience sexual and romantic attraction to people other than those that identify as men. I get excited at the thought of sexual engagement with people who identify differently gender-wise, and sometimes, I daydream about what our romantic futures together would look like. These are all real experiences that make my queerness pretty undeniable. None of this is complicated. In fact, I find my attraction rather simple because humans of all genders are beautiful, interesting and lovable.
But when I think about my sexuality in societal context, everything feels much more complicated, and wrestling becomes necessary. Here are some of the questions and feelings lingering in my mind regarding coming out:
1. I feel like I have nothing to “show” for my queerness. By this I mean that I am not currently taking part in relationships that a bystander would perceive as a queer relationship. This means that I am often publicly perceived as straight, which grants me heterosexual privlege. Since I have this privilege in how people perceive and thus treat me, it feels wrong to then also claim the LGBTQ+ community
2. What does my sex/romantic life have to do with my friends and family? I understand the importance of honesty and appreciate the freedom of having the ones you love know who you love. I have nothing but awe and respect for the power of coming out. But whenever I ponder just calling up my family, I picture telling my mom what basically amounts to: “When I saw that girl I thought about kissing her,” and I honestly do not see how that is her business at all. After all, I would never bring up my sex life with my family if I were fully heterosexual, so it feels odd to do it now. Certainly I would introduce my family to any serious romantic partner I ever have, but right now I do not find the idea of telling them who I am interested in hooking up with very appealing.
3. Why should I have to make a big deal out of something that I find pretty simple? By coming out I feel like I am making it sound like I have been trapped in the closet. Really, I have just not felt the need to share with everyone that I am following my sexual desires, and those sexual desires are maybe not what others assumed for me. I do not want to create a dialogue around my sexuality because, well, I cannot imagine that many people really want their sexuality to be a topic of converstion with people they are not interested in having sex with. I guess I do not really feel like I am in the closet since I am engaging with my queerness romantically and I do not shy away from talking about it if the topic actually does come up naturally. So going out of my way to “come out” feels unnecessary for me.
4. How will coming out affect areas other than my romantic life? Like I said, to me, my queerness is hardly something I bat an eye at. Since recognizing my sexuality, I feel even more comfortable with myself, but it definitely has not changed who I am in any fundamental way. But coming out feels like I am then offering everyone else the opportunity to evaluate how I am different, opening myself up to new stereotypes and jokes. My queerness has not changed how I feel about any of my friendships, except maybe strengthen some, so why should I risk people changing their perceptions of me for something that I do not think changes how I feel about myself?
So, these are some of the thoughts I have surrounding coming out. Clearly, I am in the early stages of really understanding what my queerness means to me and how it fits into the wider social context of my life. I am positive that if a friend of mine came to me with these same concerns, I would emphasize the celebratory nature of coming out and how sharing that with your loved ones brings you even closer. But this is where I am at right now, sharing my sexuality where it feels natural to do so and not bringing it up if not. I am grateful for this national day of recognition and celebration of all those people who have come before me in recognizining, sharing and embracing their queerness. Even though I myself am not ready to “come out” in the way we typically see in the media, those who have come out help me to be comfortable and excited about my own sexuality.
Mike Litoris is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. Meditations of a Masterbater runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.