Is acceptance of one’s sexuality and toward others a one-size all fits situation?
For the LGBTQIA+ community, there is one destination that we all have in mind, to live in a world where we are visible, accepted and treated equally. But how important is it to understand that as we continue to fight for this kind of world, we might not all arrive at this destination at the same time or in the same way? The world has come a long way with advances in equality and queer visibility. But sharing one’s identity with others is not like any other daily conversation; it’s one that still triggers anxiety, worry and fear. When an individual first starts to realize one’s sexual identity, the process can unfold over a series of years. Each coming out story–when and how it happens, how difficult it is, and what impact it has on relationships varies from one person to the next.
Pride marches and movements are becoming bigger, new allies are found and educated, and even laws are now being passed. Explicit harm to the community has decreased and even large personalities are now coming out. With this, a new conversation starts, the importance of understanding and respecting that each one’s coming out journey remains personal and different. In reality, we still live in this default narrative of dating a person of the opposite sex and gender-norms are still expected. At the core, coming out is almost never easy because one never wants to be shamed or rejected. Specifically, with the society we live in now, only being tolerated by those close to us, afraid to be called out.
Firstly, some already struggle with self-acceptance and deal with confusion or doubts towards themselves. Whereas for others, it’s a matter of finally becoming self-aware and grasping who they really are after a long time. There is no standard to living your truth, and even if you still don’t have a full grasp of your gender identity, you can start talking about it. On the other hand, if you aren’t ready, then that’s okay as well. There are those in the community that are self-aware and comfortable to say it out loud and proud, but for some it can also take a while to explore themselves and their relationships. There is no rule saying that your identity can’t change or evolve. If you’re still figuring things out, then it doesn’t make you any less than what you identify as. Living one’s truth should always be met with equal respect.
After self-acceptance, comes a new part of the journey, coming out to your parents, family, friends and eventually to the public. This part of the journey can be influenced by many environmental factors. The type of community lived in, the kind relationship with friends, family and outside circles all have a huge influence on this matter. Similar to self-acceptance of one’s sexuality, coming out can look like a lot of scenarios and we can only hope that each one ends with being welcomed with love and comfort. In some cases, coming out can mean a sit-down talk with your parents initiated by them or yourself. Afterwards, most parents either celebrate it or fall in the middle where they ask for more time to adjust and start accepting over time.
Occasionally, it’s an unspoken understanding. The words are never said out loud but both parties know and there is an emotional show of acceptance. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. A similarity I noticed in many coming out stories is the phrase “I will only come out once to my family once I am established or when I am out of the house” is always muttered.
OWN THE WAY
The reason why this phrase is common in the community is because of the sad fact that many have already lost a home and was kicked out after revealing their true selves. A present collective trauma that results into many in the community having to prove themselves and going above expectations to have as a prerequisite before coming out. People experience trauma differently and daily through microaggressions, such as homophobia, transphobia, bullying and shame due to preference and sexuality. Ultimately, these journeys are hard to quantify and because of this, no one can ever pressure or have the right to “out” someone on their sexuality.
For lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, sexuality is personal, and one alone has the right to when and how to tell their truth. No individual owes another the transparency of one’s journey especially when one is not ready, and no one can ask more than what one can give. When the time is right and how one wants to join those who are proud and successful, then that is entirely up to their decision. If you are on your journey, we see you and we support you–there’s no rush, living out your truth will be worth it.