Coming out: an explanation

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Kaitlyn Hughes
“It’s not a blinking LED sign above my head or a tattoo on my forehead, it’s just a part of me. One that, to many people, is only apparent in the way I say partner or significant other instead of boyfriend.”

Seeing “Love, Simon” was a pivotal moment in my life. It was released not long after I came out to my family, and I watched it with my mom in the theater. I had barely ever seen gay characters on screen let alone as a main character. The ones I’d seen all had being gay as their main personality trait. The movie brought light to the fact that coming out, if we choose to do so, is uncomfortable. I was very vocal about my love for it and what it showed. 

“It seemed pointless to me,” a boy once said to me. “It was just a kid coming out for an hour and a half.”

I didn’t understand why so many people I knew didn’t like it, and I couldn’t pinpoint why the boy’s statement upset me so much. I didn’t realize my mistake until the boy in my church youth group unintentionally smacked me in the face with the cold hard truth. 

People who haven’t, and may never, have to come out don’t have a true understanding of it because they’ve never had to deal with it.  

So here it is, an explanation for all of you who don’t understand it, why it is not what you may think it is.

I don’t introduce myself by saying “Hi! I’m Alyssa and I’m a bisexual!” It’s not a blinking LED sign above my head or a tattoo on my forehead, it’s just a part of me. One that, to many people, is only apparent in the way I say partner or significant other instead of boyfriend.

Coming out never ends.

There are steps you’re unaware exist until you have to deal with them. Though I’d supported the LGBT community my whole life, realizing I was actually part of it was a different experience. Suddenly you’re the one dealing with homophobia from those around you and from yourself. Hearing someone refer to something as gay suddenly isn’t as funny anymore. You realize that yup, you’re gay, and you just have to work towards becoming comfortable with that fact.

Often times, step one is coming out to close friends. We know their views, and they are often the most comfortable for us to talk to about this possibly sensitive topic. The first few I told were not very supportive, wondering how I could follow this lifestyle if I was a Christian. At this point, it’s a well known fact to all of my friends and acquaintances that I’m bi. I don’t try to hide it anymore, and will even make gay jokes around them, such as calling mild inconveniences “homophobic”.

Step two, the true test, is your family. I am lucky enough to have open-minded parents, but even then, I didn’t look forward to coming out to them. It was showing a part of me that had been hidden my whole life. 

Step three was telling my extended family, and if I’m being honest, most of my extended family doesn’t know. I accidentally wore my “girls like girls club” Hayley Kiyoko concert shirt to a family reunion. It’s a mistake I will never make again, not wanting to have to deal with that type of stress during a carefree family event. I never bring it up at family functions, and I’ve only ever made one gay joke, when I told my brother ‘I’m hardly ever thinking straight.’ Maybe one day I’ll come back to this step, but for right now it will continue to be unchecked on my to-do list.

Step four is coming out to the new people in my life. Those are the people I get nervous around. What if they don’t support gay marriage? What if when they find out I’m bi they shame me? Even if I know the person is supportive, the nerves are still present. 

Coming out is uncomfortable and nerve wracking, but I look forward to the day that I can tell someone without feeling those nerves.