A universal truth that all queer people understand is that no one comes out once. There is no ceremony wherein you are presented your Gay Card™ and your Stereotypical Gay Outfit™ and suddenly the assumption that you are heterosexual is completely wiped away. There is no LGBTQ+ committee responsible for ensuring every person you’ve ever interacted with is suddenly aware of your new status. To put it simply, once you make the decision to come out, you’re committing to a lifetime of coming out. Over, and over, and over, and over again.
It’s complicated, navigating a world that is so blatantly heterosexual. Even if you happen to embody almost every classicly gay cliché, the assumption is (almost) always that you’re straight. And even when you’ve decided to start living as your authentic non-straight self, the world doesn’t catch up. They, almost always, still see you and assume straight.
That’s just a fact about the society we live in, which is another universal truth all queer people have come to accept. We live in a society that has automatically assumed your heterosexuality for you the second you’re born. And so when you decide, for yourself, that you know yourself enough to come out? Well, that’s really just unfortunately not enough for society. Society is not going to catch up. At least not today, anyway.
So you come out at the hair salon when someone asks about your boyfriend and you correct them that you actually have a girlfriend. You come out at the DMV when you’re changing your name after your wedding and the lady helping you with the name change forms incorrectly assumes you have a wife, not a husband. You come out to the family friend asking to set you up with their nephew, and you have to tell her that you’re not actually into men. You come out at work in the brainstorm when someone incorrectly says that they “wish they had someone queer who worked here to chime in.”
You continuously and frequently and, frankly, regularly, come out. Over, and over, and over, and over again.
But a universal truth that all queer people know but maybe don’t admit? This constant coming out to others is likely, not the first time you’ve done this dance.
Coming in? To yourself? As we all know, that’s a whole journey in and of itself.
Because the first person you ultimately have to come out to? It’s you.
And for a lot of us, we ALSO thought we were straight! We also wondered what the hell was happening when those gay feels started popping up. We also bounced back and forth between, “Does this mean I want to be with them? Or do I just want to be them?” We labeled ourselves as “just trying something out” or “going through a phase” or even getting our entire label completely wrong once, or twice, or more. The journey from “what is happening” to acceptance is very rarely linear, and very often filled with bumps—several of them—along the way.
There’s a lot of beauty with coming in to yourself, but it would be disingenuous to imply that it’s painless. It’s essentially like going through puberty again. Those growing pains you feel in your youth? You get the lovely experience of feeling them on repeat when you come out. You will feel excited and sad and scared and hopeful and broken and murky and elated and optimistic often all at once. You’ll put your past self under a microscope, examining every little move and wondering, “How in the world did I not know?” You’ll hold your current self to impossible standards, assuming that now everything will be fine! Now you’ll be better at everything! Now everything will be fixed and easy! (Spoiler: It will not.)
But the universal truth that all queers would tell those baby gays struggling with either coming out for the umpteenth time or simply coming in to who they’re supposed to be?
It’s fucking worth it.
Coming out looks different for each person. Sometimes it’s gratuitous, loud with confetti and a several hundred-word speech. Sometimes, it’s more subtle. And is only told to a select few. Sometimes, it’s just to yourself. And it’s quiet and individual and for you and you only. But no matter how, and no matter to who, and no matter the spectacle or lack thereof attached, it’s absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably worth it.
Because you deserve to be you. You deserve to be the person you’ve come in to. You deserve to be the person who you’ve worked so hard to become. You deserve to come out, even it’s just to yourself. You deserve it. Once more for emphasis, you deserve it.
A universal truth that all queer people understand is that no one comes out once. There’s coming out to yourself, coming out to your circle, coming out to your family, coming out to the strangers you never expected needing to, and then coming out to some more people over and over, and over, and over again. Coming out is called a process for a reason because it’s kind of never-ending.
But the ultimate universal truth that all queer people understand? It’s that coming out?
It really does help pave the way to making literally everything better.