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March 31, 2014 | by  | in Features |
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I Want the World to Know

Coming out is the first real chance for a lot of queer people to be themselves. It is also an experience that is as individual as the people coming out. We wanted to feature a diverse range of queer people, telling their coming-out stories. Here is the result.

Then I realised that I was just nervous about recognising that I am actually attracted to girls and not in just a ‘girl-crush’(a ridiculous phrase IMO) kind of way

It’s a lot easier to answer “Do you have a girlfriend?” with “No”, rather than “Ah, well, actually, I think you mean boyfriend… And no”

Chris 

My coming-out experience went well in comparison to people I know, but no matter how accepted you are by your friends and family, there is always a change in attitude towards you from people and it acts as a constant reminder that because you’re not ‘normal’, you should be treated differently. It hurts at times, not being able to walk down the street holding hands without getting double takes from people, when you could walk into Hope Bros and see penetration on the dance floor without so much as a bat of an eye. Or my personal favourite – not being able to say goodbye to the person you love at an airport without someone asking you to either go somewhere else, or stop touching one another, because they have children with them. In all honesty though, the only person in my life who had a real problem with it was my dad, which I’ve learned to deal with. If anything, coming out has taught me to live my life the way that makes me happiest rather than to appease the close-minded, uneducated beliefs of a few. You have to learn to love yourself, and all the rest only matters if you allow it to. Peace and love, kids.

Bilbo Faggins

Sometimes being in the closet is great – it’s easier to meet familial expectations; it’s a lot easier to answer “Do you have a girlfriend?” with “No”, rather than “Ah, well, actually, I think you mean boyfriend… And no”; and you can check out your hot male friends with gay abandon. Obviously there are downsides, too: the confusion; pretending musical you watched was only “okay”; and the difficulty in forming important romantic relationships. There is a weighting to be made here.

Some of you would have been like me – forced out of the closet at a remarkably late age for the 21st century; insisting upon the bi tag, no matter how much evidence mounts to the contrary; ‘straight-acting’ (disregarding the UniQ people’s hatred of that term). But fuck it – it’s okay to be unsure about who you are, and who you like. It’s totally fine to want to be for all intents and purposes straight, but for the furious wanking over Tom Daley/Anderson Cooper. If you’re in the closet, and you’re not at all keen on signing up to the Graham Norton type of gay, it’s totally fine to be like Jason Collins (of the NBA. Come on guys, this isn’t helping.) You don’t have to be like any class of gay (bear, twink, otter) – just be yourself, and eventually it’ll work out.

Ben Guerin 

I first realised that I was into guys when I was in Year 11. Before that, I had been just like every other teenage boy, using ‘fag’ as a derogatory term and making intimate acquaintances of the female kind. However, there came a day when I realised that my passing interest in the male form was not some hormonal fluctuation. I told some of my closest friends at lunch, and word spread around the school like wildfire:

“Did you hear that Ben’s bi!”

“LOL!”

“That means he likes penis!”

Apart from a couple of snide comments, I am fortunate that that is literally as bad as it got. While my experience was a lot better than most, it was still only years later that I was able to tell my family. I guess this demonstrates the complexity of ‘coming out’.

After all, the story doesn’t end there. ‘Coming out’ is a loaded term, implying that once you have completed this unveiling act then you are ‘out’. This is not correct; we queers are constantly ‘coming out’ to people. The process of ‘coming out’ happens every time we meet a new person, every new job we take, and in everything we do and say.

Eve Kennedy

I come from a very privileged position: my biggest fear about coming out to my mother was that she’d say: “I told you so!” When I told her and two of my siblings a couple of weeks ago that I’d “consider dating a girl”(I wasn’t quite ready to say ‘bisexual’ to them), Mum just made a crude joke about fellatio that I can’t repeat and hugged me a bit. Coming out to myself about being bi has been much harder than coming out to everyone else; for that, I am grateful to my queer-friendly group. At first, I worried that my recent ‘self-discovery’ has only occurred in response to the sexual violence I suffered from a man, and maybe also my stalwart feminism: that I’m not actually bi, I just want to be. Then I realised that I was just nervous about recognising that I am actually attracted to girls and not in just a ‘girl-crush’(a ridiculous phrase IMO) kind of way, and regardless, even if my sexuality has developed contextually, that’s totally cool, because I am allowed to identify however I want! As I drunk-tweeted from Ivy at 3 am once: “Is anybody 100% heterosexual anyway?”

PS Hi Dad, I’m bi <3

Batman

I often forget how much I wanted to take the straight pill growing up. What I thought to be ‘cool’ was and is a big factor for me in most areas, and I didn’t see the gay identity as being that at all.

I was about 16 when I started seeing homosexuality as legitimately cool. I had too heavily associated homosexuality with ‘gay culture’, something that I didn’t find appealing or attractive, or something that I identified with at all. To me it’s an embrace of distaste, and it overshadows the simplicity of a boy and a boy, or a girl and a girl, having a romantic/sexual attraction to one another. I almost never use the phrase “I’m gay”, because it doesn’t mean, “My body responds, more or less, exclusively to people of my own gender”: it directly ties and identifies you with a culture you’ve likely never had any involvement in.

Disclaimers: I don’t hate gay subcultures and I do engage positively with ‘gay culture’ as much as the next ‘straight’ ‘punter’, (‘……’ ‘…….’ ‘……..’ ). Much in the same way I got onboard with the other non-fans, during the Rugby World Cup. At any rate, when I was old enough to figure out how to present my homosexual tendencies in a way that I felt was cool, I came out: aged 18, last year of high school.

Eleanor Mett

I have come out in my bedroom. I have come out in a McDonald’s. I have come out: on a party bus, in a shop, in a bathroom, on a deck and in an office. I have come out on the Harbour Bridge to have my sister burst into tears, apologise for a few ignorant remarks regarding ‘dykes’ and tell me that she loves me. I have come out in Mighty Mighty in an attempt to make clear to a scrawny boy I was not interested in his sad attempts to straighten me out, only to be grabbed, kissed on the cheek and have “Guess thats as close as I’ll ever get” whispered into my ear. I have come out to a friend to make my intentions of our relationship clear. His response was to laugh at me, inform me that I’m in fact not gay and have him continue to smother my lower back with his hands. Coming out made a borderline homophobe an ally, and exposed pea-brain misogynists that I can now systematically expunge from my life. I have approached coming out slowly, as an incremental process. Each coming-out encounter has shifted my own perspective and self-worth. My identity as a lesbian once felt like an overwhelming issue that needed addressing. It is now a simple fact that needs accepting.

 

Robert Desmond

It’s difficult to summarise what amounts to one of the most important events in my life within the scope of one short blurb. Nevertheless, in one way at least, my coming-out, lengthy and convoluted as it was, would best be captured by two quotes: “I thought you were a homophobe?” and, by contrast, “Oh, I always knew.” The two people who said these things to me, while not necessarily capturing the true spirit of what lay behind my coming-out, had nonetheless hit upon something important. To the casual observer, my attitudes growing up were very much meant to deflect any questions about my sexuality, and to some it must have seemed at least apathetic or at most hostile. To the more observant, it was clear that something deeper was going on; they could see the fear and,  for a time, self-loathing that preceded my coming-out. Much of my adolescence was spent apologising for and seeking some solution to something that just wouldn’t go away, no matter how hard I tried: I loved men. It was only after a great deal of reflection, introspection and reaching out to some close friends that I even came close to accepting the truth and being able to live with it. Truth be told, I’m still on that road, a good two years after finally flinging open the doors and letting the light in.

Frank Lewis

When he heard those words from a barren throat and scarlet eyes, he said that maybe it’s a phase. As if for his sake, it would go away. Such encrypted words were no secret.

He said, at the time, that it was often religion that made us feel the way we do. Yet he enlightens me still, that my absence of faith too is a phase. But his religion, which he preaches to me, is the one that heralds the spat acid syllables that are strong enough to blind those who live in their fumes.

I always tried to be what I thought he wanted, but once I had reserved the strength to release that contraction and adjective, I felt I would never be. When it was said, I longed for only that articulation of affection. But he did not pronounce those sounds, thinking he had calmed me by saying it would go. He enquired into what made me think I was this way. Though it was not a mere thought, I had my truth. The child within needs to sooth his burning eyes and salted cheeks before we can remember that moment without contempt.

 

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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