Forgiving Those Who Take Forever To Come Out

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  1. David May says:

    By the time I was 13 (1969) I’d accepted myself as queer (I knew no other word for it) but by the time I was 16 I was denying it to myself. It took until my third year of college (perhaps because of a devastating love affair during my first year, one so heart breaking that it soured me towards both love and men for more than two years) before I was able to be honest with the world and myself — and I was going to the ultra liberal UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s!.

    After college all bets were off. I moved to San Francisco (where I lived for the next 22 years), living in a predominately gay world and embracing the Gay Ghetto as my new (and I thought final) home. But there are so manyn changes in our world, in the national consciousness, that I eventually came to see the Gay Ghetto as a Great Notion That’s Time Has Passed. While I loved those early years running around the Castro District, thinking that we had re-invented the world, I now envy young queers that have the wherewithall to come out in high school and face the world with far fewer trepiditions than mine did — and we (the first post-Stonewall generation) saw ourselves as something special and free of previous generations’ baggage. How much better it must be now to begin adult life with the the notion that one’s love and life are legitimate, worthy of ceremony and recognition, and a potential source of great pride.

  2. Love this piece. Love.

  3. Since you asked…

    I’ve come out as all of the following at one point or another: lesbian, genderqueer, transgender, and bisexual. I’m about as out now as you can get short of beginning introductions with, “Hey, nice to meet you, I’m a big fat queer!” I come out so often for exactly the reason you mentioned – because so many folks don’t know anyone who’s bi or trans, and I put a human face on the mysterious bogeyman under the bed.

    Perhaps my favorite coming out story was when I was 15. My state was in the process of passing a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, so my GSA took a trip to the capitol on the day the legislature was having a public hearing. One speaker testified that he had just come from church, where a ray of light had struck his Bible and he’d been divinely inspired to come defend marriage. At that point I’d had just about enough, so I signed up for my own time slot. Sure enough, half an hour later, I was coming out to my state legislature. (And arguing against the amendment, of course.)

    The punchline is that my mother walked in right when I was talking, so I accidentally outed myself to her, too. She bought me a muffin afterward.

  4. People “in the closet” don’t need your forgiveness, because they’re not doing anything wrong. People have no obligation to participate in social movements. They do have the right to live in a way that makes them content while not infringing on the rights of others. Also, just because a people share similar struggles, that doesn’t make them a community. Taking a path in life out of a sense of obligation or guilt, not out of personal desires, in order to help a bunch of strangers is giving away your individuality. Finally, many people are finding that the current labels available are insufficient to describe who they are. Gay, straight, bi, queer, trans, etc. don’t describe everyone anymore.

  5. Orlando ,

    Great article. Have you read Loren Olson’s : Finally Out. I have a great review for it on my site . Check it out.

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