It’s not wrong to write – tell the world your truth in your own way
I’m not much of a talker. Never have been. I mean sure, get a few glasses of prosecco inside me and I’m yap, yap, yap – dispensing Kenneth Williams-style asides like there’s no tomorrow. But that’s all fun and games. When it comes to the ‘real’ stuff, I clam up. Words get stuck. My mouth turns drier than a bedsheet whilst fluster’n’flummox levels rise, flashing red in my mind with a big ‘EVACUATE!’ warning. So I write things instead. Because that’s something I can do.
When I was 18 a few (ahem) years ago, I wrote my parents an email telling them I was gay. Invariably that detail comes up in conversation with people, everyone likes a coming out story. And when I say I emailed them with such important news, as opposed to talking to them, I generally get some sort of reaction, ranging from shock to even once having it called the ‘c’ word – cowardly. But I’m here to say that it wasn’t cowardly then, and that it still isn’t cowardly now to write something instead of saying it.
It’s time to change that view for good.
We’ve probably all heard words to the effect of, “it’s better to do it face-to-face”. Now for some things that’s true. Kissing, for example, is incredibly hard to do in written form – those little x’s don’t quite hit the spot. But for most other things I vehemently disagree.
Who said it was better? Why is it better? It isn’t better, it’s just a different kind of communication.
You might have also heard the line, “If you really respect them, you’ll tell them in person”. Poppycock! Twaddle! Absolute tommyrot! All that does is heap another dollop of shame on top of you, thanks very much. The mode by which you tell someone anything – including telling them you’re gay – has absolutely nothing to do with respect. Writing is respectful. Writing takes time, thought, consideration. It’s a skill, just like talking. And some of us are better skilled at one than the other.
In terms of coming out specifically, for me it was a no-brainer. But for you, if you’re reading this and are perhaps on the cusp of wanting to tell somebody, and you just don’t think you can manage the words verbally – please, please consider writing it if that comes more naturally to you. It’s not disrespectful, and it’s not cowardly. Coming out isn’t a bravery contest. You don’t have to do what scares the pants off you the most. There’s no right or wrong way, only your way.
For what it’s worth, I’ve never even once had any regret over the way I told my parents I was gay. I think, given that the whole thing came as a bit of a shock to them, that writing it down was for the best. It gave them time. Time to read, then time to think, time to order their thoughts. For coming out to anyone is a two-way street, and the oncoming traffic may have a reaction. Spoken words can come snapping from mouths in an impulsive, thoughtless rush. The written word gives time.
So write, or talk, whatever suits you best. Just remember – there’s no shame in any of it.
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