Sometimes it’s best just to dive on in. I don’t like to say I’m a lesbian, because that is a noun and I don’t feel like I’m a noun. My sexuality is not my entire being, it is a small but significant part of me. Significant because other people make it so.
When labels are called for, I tend to opt for gay, maybe queer chick. Not that I feel particularly queer, it’s just a slightly funkier word.
People try to tell me that it’s easier to come out now than it used to be. Well, for me it is, because for the last (cough) years I’ve been coming out nearly every day, so yeah, it’s not that much of an effort. It’s going to be different for everyone, but for me, the biggest step was shedding my own assumption of heterosexuality and all its attendant expectations.
Why is coming out so hard? Internalised homophobia is a powerful force. It is the dark little voice in our heads telling us we are somehow flawed, imperfect, deviant, queer. Other. Ugly. Weak. The social constructs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, are wrapped up in stereotypes and assumptions. Is this me? Do I sign up for this? Am I really like that? Can I change my mind?
It’s little things, like how do you know you’re a lesbian if you don’t have a girlfriend but I didn’t raise you to be like that and what about children. Not being able to get a phone account in both our names.
It’s big things, like getting heckled, harassed, beaten up. Not getting that job. Being kicked out of home. Not being able to get married or adopt a child. People counting us as less, trying to prove us wrong.
I was in the army reserves for a while, and I kept my mouth shut. I segregated that part of my life from all the rest. I never spoke about my partner, my work, I ducked through the personal pronouns. I avoided the girls and I let the boys down gently. I lied. That’s no basis for friendship. When I finally came clean, my friends were hurt that I hadn’t trusted them.
Of course, it’s not my friends who are the problem. Most people catch on after a while that I’m no different. It’s the jerks who think I’m there for their sexual titillation, that it’s a phase, that I need converting, or that I should be kept away from their kids. They are the problem.
I can understand not coming out. It’s not easy and it’s not always safe. And I know in this big boy’s world of medicine it’s not going to always win me fans.
I just think not taking the risk, not trusting that someone will be there to catch you, not believing that people can love you for who you are… I just think it’s sad. That’s all.