As worldwide progress shows how cultures have been opening up and being more accommodating of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, it’s now commonplace to see celebrities and public figures come out of the closet left and right. From your Hollywood hotties to your admirable athletes, the Internet is abuzz with stories of how this famous person or that famous person came out and declared to the world that he or she belongs to the fabulous rainbow community. Yay for them!
But is it really that easy to come out today? As we see many stories of coming out populate traditional media, online media and especially social media, you’d think coming out is just a Tweet away. Is it really that easy to declare who you are, especially if who you are goes against the status quo of personas?
The straight world ought to know one thing: coming out is not easy and will never be easy. Maybe these celebs are making it look easy, but in real life, it’s not, especially with the following considerations:
Imagine being kicked out of your house just because your dad or mom discovers that you, girl, have a girlfriend or maybe you, boy, have a boyfriend. If you’re still dependent on the financial support of your parents, then that makes it hard for queer people to just easily come out to their loved ones. Sure, their families should be loving, caring, or understanding, but we know that not all families are like that. Even if the LGBTQs are already adults, some experience being disinherited or rejected by their own parents just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the era of equal opportunity employment, you’d think that all companies are open-minded already about their queer employees. But since not all types of employment recognize LGBTQ rights, queer people tend not to come out to their bosses or officemates for fear of being ostracized or passed over for promotions. Or worse, some close-minded of the lot could subject queer individuals to some form of queer-based harassment such as bullying or name-calling. Yup, that still exists in the adult world, folks, not just in the playgrounds.
If you’re living in the Bible belt or somewhere in the world where there are more churches/religious structures than 7-11s, it’s a sure thing that LGBTQ discrimination will be present in some of these areas. While not all religious folks hate us queers (and God bless them!), some of them take it upon themselves to “educate” the world that “God hates *expletive*!” or “Lesbianism is a sin!” and hurl related dark ages stuff, complete with Leviticus quotations. From what I remember in Catholic school, God is love, right? And He said love one another and all that jazz. But sadly, some people miss that memo. Hence, we remain in the closet when we feel Bible thumpers passing by.
Coming out is always a personal decision. Some LGBTQs prefer to live quietly in the closet for fears emanating from one of the factors mentioned above. Yet some choose to out themselves in order to have limited self-restrictions, as they feel they are more comfortable with their skins if they do. There are also those who want to protect their families or friends from secondhand harassment in relation to their identity, so they choose not to come out altogether. Meanwhile, there are also those who think that one’s identity is a private matter, and they choose to not come out just because they don’t feel the need to — and that’s okay, too.
But the straight world should also remember that coming out is an endless process for us folks. When we meet new friends, co-workers or new in-law relations, it’s inevitable that one’s identity will come up in a conversation down the line. And we always choose to trust people we come out to. There’s still a “personal safe space” we have to consider, so yeah, it’s not as easy as one would think.
The bottomline of coming out is still having peace of mind. If an LGBTQ person gets that from coming out, then great! If not, then that’s a decision one has to respect, too.