October 12, 2016

It’s Okay If The Only Person You Came Out To On ‘National Coming Out Day’ Was Yourself

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 Tyler Rayburn
Tyler Rayburn

I wanted to come out to my family on National Coming Out day. I really did.

I thought about it a lot in the weeks leading up to it. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, too good an excuse to give myself the push I finally needed and admit to my family that I like women as well as men.

Not casually. Not in passing. A lot (because I still feel the need to justify that, even though I shouldn’t. There is eternally a tiny voice in the back of my mind screaming at me that I don’t have enough tattoos or combat boots to identify as a queer woman. That my history of dating men is proof that my sexuality isn’t real or legitimate enough to warrant recognition.)

I’ve tried to shut up this voice for a while, but it never shuts up. That voice is comfortable inside the closet and it adamantly wants to stay there. So it pitches a fuss regularly.

There truth is, there will always be a million reasons not to come out.

Growing up it was because I would have been ostracized from my religious community, had I come out.

In college it was because I was dating a man – whom I genuinely believed I was going to marry – and so I figured what’s the point?

And this year, on National Coming Out day, the strange feeling of not being gay enough was what kept me in the closet.

What if I came out and no one believed me? What if I admitted my sexuality and everyone treated it like a phase? What if those people were right? What if I’m actually NOT queer enough to claim the label?

I struggled with these questions a lot. I weighed the evidence supporting both sides.

Fact: I’ve been wildly sexually attracted to men all my life. I’ve dated them. I’ve slept with them. I’ve loved them.

Fact: I’ve also been attracted to women my entire life. It’s been a murkier and much more confusing attraction, but it’s been there, for as long as I remember.

Fact: All of my serious exes have been men.

Fact: Some of the most intense and fulfilling sexual encounters I’ve had have been with women.

Fact: I have long, normal-colored hair and no radical tattoos or piercings.

Fact: I have always thought of women while masturbating.

Fact: I don’t feel like I’m gay enough to warrant coming out.

Fact: I think the person that I need to come out to is myself.

It took a lot of waffling back and forth about whether or not I should come out before I realized the truth of the matter:

I wasn’t putting off coming out because I was afraid of what my Mom and Dad would think about my sexuality. I was worried about what I would think about it.

I have never thought of myself as a homophobic person. I have gay friends. I have gay role models. I encourage and advocate for LGBQT+ visibility and acceptance. I am as queer-friendly as they come. And yet there I was, struggling with a deep sense of shame over my own sexuality.

The idea of giving up my ‘straight’ status felt like giving up a large part of who I was. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized why: because I’d been socialized, my whole life, to believe that gay people were inherently different than straight people. That they liked different music, worked different jobs, pierced weird body parts and rejected societal norms.

And you know what? I love societal norms! Sue me. I’m a basic fucking white girl. I straighten my hair. I wear makeup every day. I follow Gossip blogs that care about Taylor Swift and it just so happens that I also like seeing women naked.

Girls make me weak. They make me nervous. They play starring roles in the romantic fantasies I have been internally crafting my whole life. And that makes me gay enough for me.

I don’t fit a single one of the ‘queer’ stereotypes I was fed growing up, and yet here I somehow am anyway – queer as the day is long. And this year on National Coming Out day, I finally admitted that to myself.

This year I realized that before I came out to the people who had raised me, I needed to first make peace with my own sexuality. I needed to stop internally beating myself up for not being gay or straight enough to fit into either label. I love who I love.

Sometimes it’s women. Sometimes it’s men.

And there will be a day when I am ready to admit that to others. But this year on National Coming Out day, I finally admitted it to myself.

And in my humble opinion, I’d say it’s one of the most important milestones I’ll ever hit. TC mark

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