Goku from Dragon Ball Z was so hot and so funny and so ripped! That’s how I knew I was gay. That and I liked orchids, wearing my grandma’s dresses, Italian cinema, and watched more gay pornography than anyone should as a teenager.
It wasn’t a secret to me or my family, but it was embarrassing and definitely not something I wanted to share with people or have to correct every time someone new asked me if I had a girlfriend. My sister is also gay and things were rough for her coming out to my parents. They were caught totally off guard by her lesbianism. My parents found her in our downstairs movie theater making out with one of her friends that was also a girl and had a talk with her. My dad was unjustifiably angry and sad. He also made insensitive comments about not having grandchildren and losing their “little girl.”
I didn’t want to go through all of that so I decided to wait until I was in college to tell them and my friends from high school. Looking back, I think that was the right choice. I would not have had the time to deal with coming out on top of maintaining my GPA and applying to colleges. It was hard keeping that secret, but for me I think it was necessary.
Once I was in college things totally changed. I was on a progressive, liberal campus where there were people that thought more radically than I did! The people I met and courses I took helped expand my queer media consumption from porn (Belami 4 life) to dandyism, flâneurs, Judith Butler, Amanda Lear, Amanda Lepore, Pier Paolo Pasolini, John Cage, John Waters, and whole bunch of great people and things!
With all that new knowledge came new modes of self expression. I adopted a flamboyant style of dress with silk scarfs and fancy jackets and dress shoes. I liked these clothes and my friends did too. I felt bohemian and intellectual and like exactly the sort of person you would want at a cool party. I liked this way of dressing too because I felt like it was a way to advertise my sexuality without having to tell people.
Not everyone was a fan though. That sort of dress also brought me undesired attention from men shouting “faggot” at me from their cars as they drove by or from the window of their house or apartment. My parents were also not a fan and my mom asked me why I dressed so “gay.” I liked my clothes, but I decided to tone it down because I was concerned about my safety and I wanted to be able to walk down the street without being harassed by rude men. I reserve those outfits for parties and special occasions now.
Since college, I have found that coming out is a continuous process. I am always coming out and I am always defining my sexuality for other people. I still don’t feel safe or comfortable being 100% fabulous in public. I feel like what I have done is learned which spaces are safe to express my authentic self in and worked to build friendships with other queer people that understand my experience.
Our sexual identity informs many important decisions so it’s not surprising that people are always interested in knowing. I have found the easiest way to break the news to people I feel safe with is to start talking about my partner. As soon as I use his pronouns the person I am talking to knows that I am gay and after that they seem less mystified by my choices, experiences, and views.
Coming out is a continuous process.
Stick up for your sister and tell your parents that the way they are treating her is wrong.
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