A new trend seems to be washing over the USA and, consequently, over the world – because why wouldn’t everybody follow in the footsteps of the great freedom dealers, amirite? Teenagers all over North America are coming out via school yearbooks. You see the gay expression on their faces, smiling above some semi-funny quote about having been in the closet.
This makes me quite nostalgic. Gone are the good ol’ days when you’d go on reddit and read about teenagers coming out to their parents by baking a suggestive rainbow layered cake and then writing “I’m gay” in icing, just in case their progenitors were too slow to get the rainbow hint. Yearbook quotes don’t go on Youtube, folks, thus they do little in terms of providing entertainment, which sort of defeats the purpose of the whole thing.
Now, if you’ve managed to read this far, you’re probably expecting some sort of homophobic rant following that introduction. If that’s the case, you clearly haven’t read my last piece of writing, which shows I’m as pro-LGBT community as one can be. Partly because I’m part of it.
There, I said it. Coming out on a semi-obscure website, in an article that will probably only be read by Chris who has to proofread it before publishing it, is not as original and creative as a yearbook quote, but I’ll take what I can get.
You see, where I come from, there aren’t any yearbooks. There’s only patriarchy, homophobia and all the gender and sexuality stereotypes you can think of. Where I come from, I was summoned to the principal’s office when I was 16 because when my literature teacher asked us to write a piece about someone we loved, I wrote about my girlfriend at the time. They took it as a bad joke, since I’d always been the rebellious one. I laughed it off and admitted that yes, it was an attempt at being funny, because that was easier than having to face the reality that I’ll probably have to deal with that kind of reaction my whole life. I re-wrote the stupid essay and got away with it.
When I started dating a boy a few months later I could actually see the relief in my teacher’s eyes as she saw us kissing in the school’s corridor. Then I went away to uni and I was far enough from that forsaken little town to do whatever I wanted and whomever I wanted without having to hear the gossip. I avoided visiting my hometown like one would avoid being at a Justin Bieber concert. For a while I thought it was because I was scared, but then I realized I was not scared at all. I was just annoyed, and the task of explaining myself and my sexuality to whomever happened to see me making out with a girl in the park would be onerous.
That’s how I made it so far in life without ever having to admit that all those rants at family dinners about LGBT rights were more personal than any of them knew. But in the light of the Pride parade that just took place in London and me being on the team of volunteers, I decided to come out.
The idea was strange at the beginning, because I thought – and probably rightly so – that nobody would actually give a fuck about who I want to shag. But then again, I will eventually have to talk about it, either when someone will see me holding hands with a girl or when I get into a serious relationship with one and want to introduce her to my friends and family. At least if I came out I could do it on my terms and not be forced to explain myself.
After coming out to some of my closest and oldest friends, I learnt two things. First, nobody can ever prepare you for the kind of pain you feel when your friends mock you for who or what you are. Second, there’s a huge misconception about bisexuals. Guys gave me meaningful looks and started throwing subtle threesome hints my way. One of them said “Now that I know you like girls, I can talk to you like you’re a guy; that makes everything so much easier”. Well I have to check to make sure, but I think I still have my vagina, even though I just said I was bisexual, so yea, pretty sure I’m still a gal.
My girlfriends, on the other hand, just shrugged the whole issue off and said “You still like guys, you’re basically straight” and then gave me the patronizing talk about how everybody experiments during uni. I suppose they missed the part where I was having sex with girls at 15 and I’m not in uni anymore. And of course, I got the classic “You either like men or women, you can’t have both”. Well I think Alfred Kinsey would disagree.
Obviously, the story of my coming out won’t go viral on Facebook and I will probably not end up throwing a “bye bye, closet” party, where friends and family gather round and try to ignore my Mum’s tears and pretend they’re not picturing me scissoring some woman. Instead, I’m taking the easy path of anonymity, writing about it under a fake and rather shitty name, in an article that will never be linked back to me. It may sound sad. It’s not, though, because thanks to the Pride parade on Saturday, I realized that strangers can sometimes be closer to me than family or friends. Also, there’s an overwhelming sense of belonging when you’re floating through a sea of approximately 70,000 people who are united by the same goal of having the freedom to be and to love whomever they want.
In the end, I suppose we all have our skeletons in the closet, but there’s no reason why we should live in there with them.