On Coming Out

Today marks six years since I came out the world (which at the time was the around 200-250 people I was friends with on Facebook) as Bisexual. I’ve spent a lot of today reflecting on the previous six years of my life, and wondering whether the hasty decision made by my sixteen year old self was a good decision.

The story begins on the 18th of September, 2010. A sixteen year old Chris is his room, watching YouTube videos, and wasting away his fleeting seconds of adolescence. In January of that year, I’d been able to connect the pieces that I was, in fact, not as straight as I’d been assuming for the last decade and a half. In the intervening months, I’d come out to a handful of people, and I wasn’t trying to hide my sexual orientation to any significant degree. Yet my Facebook profile, at that point the social media account I was the most active on, said that I was straight, and it allowed me to quietly pretend to the world that that was indeed true. Something happened on that day, though. I was watching a video, one that infuriated me, I don’t remember what the video was about, however. It isn’t lost on me how ironic the rest of this story is going to sound when I can’t even remember the catalyst to one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made, yet it’s true, I cannot for the life of me remember what the video was. That being said, in all likelihood it was a video of either a Christian fundamentalist, or some atheist I followed responding to that Christian fundamentalist, that ignited something in me. The video, according to my sixteen year old self’s logic, was proof that people who weren’t straight or religious needed to stand out and make a difference (this coming out story also coincides with a story about boldly declaring to the world that I was an atheist, a fact that as I’ve grown older has become unbelievably unimportant to my day-to-day life), and so I resolved that the best course of action at the time was for me to cross the proverbial Rubicon, and permanently end my perceived heterosexuality. And so, with kind of starry-eyed idealism and self-aggrandisement that only a sixteen year old could muster, I told my entire social circle via Facebook that I was Bisexual. The post itself, which I was reminded of this morning thanks to Facebook’s ‘Memories’ feature, is very difficult for twenty-two year old Chris to read due to sixteen year old Chris’ complete insufferableness, and yet for all its failings, for all my misguided self-aggrandisement, it was still one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. While my means of conveying my message left something to be desired, the message itself was more liberating than I could have ever imagined.

Now I recognise that I am very privileged: I live in country that legally accepts my identity, I have a family that accepted me without a single hesitation, and I received almost no hateful remarks (some misguided, uninformed, and stereotypical remarks to be sure, but nothing hateful). I want to stress that my situation was ideal to come out, and for many people this is not the case. So I stress that coming out should only be done in a safe environment. People matter over their sexual orientation.

One of the great challenges of the last six years has been how to reconcile my Bisexuality with the world at large. I spent the first several months after coming out partaking in some well-intentioned proselytising on behalf of LGBTQA+ rights and identities. I then spent several years talking very little about it, not going back in the closet as that was impossible, but doing as little as I could to draw attention to my sexual orientation. My twenties, as brief as they’ve been, have been an attempt to balance being open without shoving my identity down people’s throats, to which I feel that I’ve been mostly successful.

So, here’s to the last six years of my life, and while I’ve mocked my sixteen year old self, I’m appreciative of his bravery and his honesty (in this, at least, there are a lot of stupid things I said at sixteen). To answer the question I posed at the start, I don’t regret it for a minute.

About modernaugustan

Classics major at Carleton University - fan of liquor, travel, and of people and empires long dead.
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