Coming out as gay can be an apprehensive time of life. I’m sure most of you will be aware of that feeling of dread that becomes all-consuming when considering revealing your sexuality.
What if people don’t accept it and your family disown you? What if you end up with no friends? Such questions spark a panic within, but then we take the plunge anyway with something along the lines of “Mum, Dad, I’m gay”. Should we have to come out though?
My coming out was in a far less civilised manner than quietly announcing to my parents that I am gay. During an argument, my Dad asked me if I’m a queer. I shouted, “yes I f***ing am actually”. Drama ensued, but I won’t go into that right now for this is about the need to come out.
The first time I began to debate this topic with myself was when I had not long come out. I spent weeks telling everyone I knew that I was gay and began to thrive on people’s reactions. But then one day one of my friends said “and…” when I excitedly told her I am gay. She could not care less. I was offended at the time as this was the first instance I had come across someone who didn’t react with excitement or horror to my big news. How dare she not be bothered, I thought. However, as it began to sink in I slowly realised that I actually appreciated her response. Being gay was not an issue to this person. She only cared about the person within; the heart and soul. I guess that is why I was her friend.
From that moment I held back on telling people about my sexuality. I didn’t begin to hide it, but I would only talk about it if it was part of a conversation that involved discussing personal stuff. I considered the fact that I had not changed as a person and therefore it shouldn’t matter. Why should I be defined by my sexuality?
That is how I carried on living my life until recently I began to change my opinion again. I have received a lot of press coverage recently due to organising my county’s first ever Pride event. I didn’t consider it at first, but the media coverage has been effectively outing me to the public. It made me feel slightly uncomfortable until I realised that it is probably a good thing for people to see a positive visible representation of a gay man in the paper or hear that on the radio, which brings me to answering the question; is there a need to come out?
While not a profound need to reveal one’s sexuality, I do feel it is important to be visible. I am all for people having the right to keep their sexuality to themselves. That should be respected. But I do think it is important for people to open about their sexuality. It is only with increased visibility and openness that society and the world around us becomes a more tolerant place.
If we didn’t have so many out people, would we be living in a generally tolerant society? I’m not sure that we would. With people remaining in the closet there would be no visibility. How can a society progress when it comes to something that can’t be seen? Of course, I’m looking at the bigger picture, but I see it as vital to always consider the bigger picture. To bring it down to a basic level and look at whether there is a need to come out to friends and family, then I think there is… for now.
We still live in a world where everyone is assumed to be straight unless informed otherwise. Personally, I feel there is a need to come out if you are to have an open relationship with those close to you. How can there be a fruitful family relationship or friendship if a significant part of your being is kept a secret?
Ultimately I believe in individual choice and people having the freedom to come out or not come out on their own terms. Surely the world would be a better place if everyone was out, though.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.