Queerly Beloved: Gem Sheps
LGBTQ + History Month events continued this week with the celebration of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.
Coming out as queer can be incredibly unnerving; it’s almost impossible to tell how family and friends will react, and the repercussions of coming out can literally be lethal.
I came out to my parents a few years ago and their reaction was confusing. They claim to accept me for who I am, but many queer kids get that spiel from their parents without knowing whether or not that’s the truth.
I was very lucky in that I wasn’t ostracized, kicked out, or submitted to any punishments other than parents who didn’t understand what being a non-binary gender meant. It was kind of unhealthy, not having my parents call me by my chosen name or using my pronouns, but I survived it.
In some households, kids aren’t nearly as lucky. A lot of LGBTQ + teenagers are thrown out by their parents after coming out; others might be sent to unethical, dangerous conversion camps, which are yet to be outlawed in the US, despite their inhumane practices.
For those reasons, a lot of LGBTQ + people never officially come out. It’s terrifying.
Unfortunately, some people (often straight, cisgender allies) don’t get why people won’t come out. No, being in the closet isn’t fun. It sucks to lie about who you are on a fundamental level for a significant portion of your life, but it sucks even more to die because of who you are.
Some allies might out their LGBTQ + friends by accident or even on purpose in an attempt to be true to who their friends are. The thought is pleasant. The outcome may not be.
Allies need to recognize this—every LGBTQ + person has their reasons for coming out, or not. Whether they’re waiting for the right moment or they know that their parents are conservative, homophobic, or transphobic, coming out is their choice alone.