I read a post on how coming out is something one does every day.
It’s true. I have been “coming out,” since, oh, I turned twelve. Sometimes in small, often unseen, ways. The first time I can remember is when I awkwardly tried to tell my P.E. teacher that I wanted to change in private. Away from the other girls. I didn’t want to change in front of them, but I didn’t know it was because I found them attractive. I just felt wrong doing so, without their explicit permission to see their bodies.
Other times I came out more formally. I remember coming out to my family. I had already confided in my oldest brother. He held my hand under the table and squeezed it, as I explained that I liked women as well as men. That I wanted to date women, too.
I appreciated the article. But I want to add something to it:
Coming out is something I do every DAY, but I don’t do it for every ONE.
When I read the story, it appeared that the person came out, as if on a journey, slowly making their way from one person to the next. Which may have been how it worked for them. My way of coming out is a little different (or perhaps not, and I misinterpreted.)
I, too, come out piecemeal. I, too, have no way of broadcasting my sexuality and relationship styles in one fell stroke. Nor would I if I could. I am not interested, nor have I ever been, in broadcasting my public life to the world.
But I don’t just do it systematically to anyone who crosses my path. Nor do I come out the same way to everyone.
You see, it depends on the person.
To my close family, I come out with certain parts of my personality. I tell them about my romantic life, but I do not come out about my kinky side.
To my kinky friends, I come out about all of my basics (I am kinky, poly, etc) but I don’t necessarily delve into the intimate details that more fully explain what these various labels mean.
I tell my semi close friends about my personal life in broad strokes, explaining how I don’t rank romantic relationships over platonic. Or how I really just see everyone in my life as a friend, even if we’re dating. Or how I don’t value jealousy, but see it as a sign that something is actually WRONG in a relationship. A sign that I need to talk to that person to figure out the issue, instead of avoiding it until the relationship explodes in a fiery death. It’s almost as if, to those I trust less, that I drop hints and clues of my true nature.
I come out ever so quietly, ever so carefully.
Because sometimes it seems like people feel they are owed that “coming out,” simply because I’ve reached the point where I am ready to tell people.
I FEEL that I have to tell EVERYONE about the piece of myself I am revealing, such as announcing my sexuality. That my coming out is solely about me, not about the people I meet. Therefore, if I come out about my queerness, I must make it KNOWN. Not selectively, but wholesale. Or else I’m deceptive, lying.
I believe I have already come out, and I am continuing to come out. On my own terms. In a way that protects me first. That makes me feel safe. I think that is good enough.
I don’t wish to feel guilty about the legitimacy of my “coming out,” or if I came out the ‘right’ way. Or if it counts at all, because everyone doesn’t know.
I am constantly filtering people in my mind into these various categories. Not everyone qualifies to learn everything about me. I selectively determine who knows what— based on trust level, professional relations, degree of emotional or physical intimacy, etc. From there, I filter each unique relationship. I come out slowly— or quickly if the connection feels right— to every individual.
Our first meeting, I may come out about one part of myself that is culturally taboo (or I might spend six hours sharing every single detail we can squeeze in). As the relationship develops, I figure out how much I want to share and at what pace. (Yes, almost any relationship becomes more intimate over time, but I’m specifically referring to the parts of my personality that fall under “coming out.”)
Do I tell them I’m polyamorous? Kinky? Submissive? Ahh, but that is my decision to make.
I say this, not as an excuse to spout words, but to reassure you that you ought to come out in any way you please.
There is no One Twue Way to do it. Can’t tell everyone? Would it help you if you told a counselor in private? Would it make you feel more honest and free if you told your best friend?
It isn’t a stepping stone to coming out, anything you say IS coming out. It is something worth celebrating. It is something that you should feel proud of— and, hey, maybe that person you come out to is YOURSELF. That counts.
Being able to be honest with yourself about your needs and wants? That is a legitimate first step. And if you want to stop there, do so. This really is about the journey, not the destination.
Come, grow with me.
Come, expose a little piece of yourself to someone you trust. If this is important to you, keep coming…out.
Over and over and over again.