Coming out is complicated, and it's also never-ending, as rm talks about here.
I am always reluctant to buy into the idea of coming out as some kind of obligation, because I don't believe it's an absolute good. I have benefited enormously from everyone in my life and everyone in the public eye who has spoken openly about their sexuality, but none of them owed that to me. Being out is important to me in my personal life and in my relationships with my parents and my friends, but it's not like that for everyone.
I'm not just out in my personal life, though, I'm also out in my public life, such as it is. And every single time I come out - in a conversation with an acquaintance, in an introduction at a meeting - it's careful, it's calculated. It's never without risk.
I'm lucky. The risks I take are small ones, when compared to the horrible consequences of being openly queer that continue to face many today. My consequences are the loss of potential friendships, strange looks, insults. Often, I am taken less seriously when it comes to LGBT issues - after all, as a member of the group in question I must be 'over-emotional' and 'lack perspective'. You know how the story goes.
Small risks, small consequences, by and large. But they build and build over time, and it's not okay. I take those risks, it's my choice. I don't believe that makes me better than someone who makes a different choice.
Ultimately, it's about our selves, our truths, and we owe that to no one. Because the truth is that whether we are out or not, we are everywhere. We are your bosses and your doctors and your teachers, your friends, your relatives, your neighbours. And we're not just gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender either - we are queer, androgynous, intersex, pansexual, genderqueer, asexual, poly, kinky, so many things. That list will never be exhaustive. We are more than labels can ever capture. That's our truth, and no one has the power to take that away from any of us.
My name's Amy; I'm gay. I stand up and say that openly, again and again, because I can, because I want to, and because my risks are small. I say it because I hope that sometimes time and place will converge so that my words can help someone else, just like others' words helped me.
I say it because it's my truth. Treat it as such. It's never without risk.
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