Editor's Note: Guest blogger Lynn Casper is the co-founder of Be Yr Own Queero, a queer blog based out of Wilmington, North Carolina.
The other night babe useless, bizzzle and I were in the bathroom at the Soapbox hanging up flyers to promote BYOQ. While we were in there, a girl came out of the stall and asked, "What is that?" Instead of a detailed, enthusiastic explanation, I hesitated. "Oh... um... we're just trying to... createastrongergaycommunity". She didn't seem impressed and went on her way.
This is a situation that happens quite often in my life. When interacting with strangers, I am always unsure of how they will react to me being gay. So more times than not I try to avoid discussing it. Yeah. ME! of all people! I still find myself stuck in that closet.
I was at work the other day and someone came in to look around at the space for an event they were going to have. It was past 5:00 (5:00 = clock out time!) and the guy apologized for keeping me there late. I said "Oh no, it's fine. Take your time," and he walked over to me and said, "You can e-mail your boyfriend one last time," and I just faked a smile and gave him a courtesy laugh. When I got home, I kicked myself for not correcting him by saying, "Actually, yeah... maybe I will email my GIRLfriend one last time."
No matter how old we were when we came out, it isn't something that we do just once. We are faced with new situations and new people every day where our sexual orientation is automatically assumed. Believe me, it stresses me out so much thinking about it. But why do I let it stress me so much? So what if I correct someone when they use the wrong pronoun to refer to my significant other? If they have a problem with it, well that's their problem and something they need to work on. My problem is that I can't stuff myself back in that closet anymore. Seriously, I grew up in the closet in more ways than one. I had my desk and my typewriter in my closet as a child and would spend hours and hours typing up little newsletters to pass out to my friends the next day at school. (I'm the same person basically.) I also didn't even consider telling anyone I was attracted to women in high school. Southern, conversative town = too much risk of having my life ruined at a young age by ridicule.
The world I live in is more accepting now, or at least I'd like to believe so. I can't worry about how people will react anymore. Doesn't it feel so much better when you come out to someone new and from then on it's out there in the open? Phew! Being gay is exhausting!!
Whether it's for the first time ever, or for the first time today - coming out may be [the] most important thing you will do all day. Talk about it.
The quote above is from the Human Rights Campaign's Resource Guide to Coming Out. The guide has an entire section devoted to the Coming Out Continuum. If you or someone you know is struggling with living openly, share this guide with them and talk about it. Not only will they feel relieved to know that others struggle with this daily, but it will help them to become more comfortable in having these conversations with others.