I first came out of the closet some 12 years ago. (I say “first” because coming out is not something you do once. It is something you do over and over again your entire life.) In those 12 years I have been asked many questions about my coming out and sexuality in general. Some have been very personal, some weird and some I have been asked many, many times until I developed the ability to recognize the pattern leading up to them and mentally prepare myself to answer yet again.
One such question is “What happened when you came out?”. As you can imagine, that is quite a tricky question to answer briefly. Often I just shrug it off with a short, insufficient answer of “not much really”, so as to not get caught up in a long discussion about religion, genes, mutants, plastic figurines and chainsaws.
But today! Today is the day! This Tuesday in March is the day! This is the day I will attempt to go where no other has gone before. I will reveal secrets so secret, you did not even know you were supposed to not reveal them (if you know them that is). Today, I will explain, in great detail (because, hello my name is Neo and I can turn a simple sentence into an eight line paragraph with at least three parentheses) what happens when you come out of the closet.
There is a but though. (There always is.) Before I can give such an explanation, I must try to make you understand what happens before someone comes out. The lead up to this momentous decision in incredibly important, less so to everyone else, but very much so to the person actually saying the word “Hi World, I am hella freaking _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here)”.
So, without any further ado, let me get to explaining what it is like growing up as an LGBT kid*
*Your experience may vary.
At first you are a child like any other. You play and laugh, get in fights and fall off your bike, get scolded and comforted by people who love you unconditionally. All of this is as natural as the sunrise.
At some point during your childhood, you realize you are different from other kids. You might not know or understand how, but you just know. Somehow things are not quite as they should be. You will try to ignore this feeling. To suppress it and go on with living your life. It will work for a while, but the feeling that something about you is off somehow will keep resurfacing. It is as much a part of who you are, as your measles scars and the illogical safety your covers and favourite stuffed animal give you when you awake from a nightmare.
As you grow older, you begin to get a better sense of your self. There are things you are good at and things you cannot seem to get the hang of. In school some courses are easy, some hard and some people you get along with, some you do not. You have hobbies and friends who share them. All these things feel natural, but soon a new factor comes into your life.
Your peers start talking about the other sex in a way different from what they used to. With a sense of discovery and fear, boys and girls each try to make sense of their feelings for the other.
As with everything in life, some figure it out faster than others. You however do not seem to understand anything at all and now that nagging feeling you try to keep buried at all times comes back with a vengeance. You are unsure whether or not your lack of romantic interest in the other sex and the wrongness you have felt for so long are connected, but it seems possible. You lump them together and again try lock them away in your mind.
Still you worry. You cannot stop yourself from thinking about them and the more you think, the more the two seem to become connected. You start to see them as symptom and cause of what is wrong with you.
Soon enough you learn about people who are different the way you might be different. At first there are nasty, derogatory words thrown around the schoolyard as insults and these give you the impression that different equals disgusting. In an effort to distance yourself from what you think you might be, you may even use the same nasty words. Later in life you will rationalize that you did not really know the meaning of the words or that you were just playing along so as not to lose face. These rationalizations will not make you feel much better about it.
Slowly and with the help of some sex-ed or maybe a crush on someone your own gender, you will come to understand that you are most likely some version of gay. This will seem like the end of the world. Luckily, it is not, but what are you supposed to do with this information?
Your immediate instinct is to follow the queen’s suggestion of “Conceal, don’t feel”. You hide it and try your damnedest not to feel the way you do. You guard your secret like it is the launch code for all the nuclear missiles of the world.
While you are busy hiding yourself away, you realize that it is impossible to stay this way. You are immensely unhappy and there are a myriad of thoughts you are scared to even think. You have become a prisoner in your own mind. That is no life and no way to live.
In the end you decide to come out.
The moment you make that decision and start planning how and to whom, an automated process is set in motion in a far away and incredibly secret location.
Somewhere, in an enormous warehouse, a computer bleeps (as computers tend to do). A label with your name and address in printed and stuck to the side of a brown cardboard box. The box, still empty of everything but air, travels down a conveyor belt from the office that holds the bleeping and label-printing computer, into a cavernous and dim space.
This room is a maze of shelving units that seemingly reach the sky. The conveyor belt runs a zig zag course between them and each is equipped with a sign and strange robotic arms.
The air is thick with the smell of oil, hot metal and dust, but the box notices none of this, since it is merely a box.
As your empty cardboard box slowly descends into this room, it first comes to a section of shelves filled with uniform green cartridges about the size of a deck of cards. The section is marked “Standard Equipment”.
A robotic arm stirs from its artificial slumber, grabs a green cartridge and dumps it unceremoniously in your cardboard box. The conveyor belt whirs pleasantly as in scoots the box onwards through the maze of sections, shelves and artificial appendages of this truly massive facility.
In some sections the robotic arms seem to disappear in a blur of activity with all the many things they peel from the stacks. In some sections they pick only a few items and in others still they remain eerily motionless, ignoring both the box and everything on the shelves.
Your cardboard box rolls merrily along through sections with signs labelling them things like “Lesbian”, “Vietnamese”, “MTF”, “Sporty”, “Polyamorous”, “Bottom” and countless more. Once it clears the very last section (I believe that is “Hindu”), it is closed, taped up, weighed, marked with sufficient postage and finally put in to a large bin with an “Outgoing packages” sign above.
Soon your very own Coming Out Starter Kit™ is in the mail and en-route to your home.
You might be thinking “Well that sounds neat, but what can I expect when it gets here?” The Coming Out Starter Kit™ contains things to help you move forward in your life as an LGBT person and as a person in general. What those things are will differ greatly depending on many factors of who you are, what you like and where you live. As such every Coming Out Starter Kit™ is unique, because we, as human beings, are unique.
That being said, here is a look at the very first thing added to your cardboard box. The green “Standard Equipment” cartridge is a basic upgrade to your person, initiated at the moment of your first coming-out.
- 1 full size set of thick skin
- 6 months to 1 years worth of an extreme wish to talk about the fact that you are _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here)
- 1 permanent wish that people would see beyond fact that you are _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here) to the person you actually are.
- 1 Gaydar™ – Beta release (Tech support no longer available, no updates scheduled)
- An unlimited supply of thoughts that you ought to care more about LGBT issues.
- 1 burning wish to find others who are _____________(Insert LGBT subtype here) like you.
In some cases your Coming Out Starter Kit™ may not reach you or it may contain the wrong equipment. All you can really do in that case, is make do. I wish you luck.
I hope this answers any and all questions anyone may have about what happens when someone comes out of the closet.
(This blog post is sponsored by The Coming Out Starter Kit Cooperation. “Out, Proud and Well-Equipped since Before Sappho got Sapphic”)