Coming Out Is Bullshit

3 Dec

Tom Daley is gay. Tom Daley is bi. Tom Daley didn’t actually say he was either of those things. I’ve been reading a lot about his coming out and finding a lot of the same ideas floating about: That this is a new way Out (here and here).

Interesting, but I really want to push against the notion of the coming out as traditional pastime, as the “one way” of doing things. I want to say that Coming Out is bullshit, notice the capitals, because I’m not talking about sharing some aspects of your life with loved ones (particularly younger relatives or siblings), but I am talking about the rote way in which we are expected to announce ourselves to family.  I’m pushing back against the idea that we should ask our mothers and our fathers to sit down because we have something to say.

The reasons behind my push are that I don’t remember a time in my life where I co-signed into this sort of ritual. I’m 31 years old now and the entire idea of coming out of the closet has only grown stranger with age. What business is it of anyone’s what my sexual proclivities are (unless I’m feeling nutty on twitter)? Every famous coming out is met with a chorus of heterosexual commentators crying “we don’t care.”

Well neither do I!

What I do remember, vividly, was being shoved into the closet. It started with the policing of overt femininity, well-meaning family members attempting to teach me the ways of men by telling me when I was doing something feminine, then it moved onto hyper masculine days going to school with boys who seemed to crumple at the thought of being seen as other than hetero. I can tell you exactly what I was doing the day I decided to stop allowing myself to be shoved in the closet. I was walking with two friends when one made a remark, something like “what are you? gay?” It wasn’t malicious, it wasn’t hostile, it was half-joking, he had a smirk on his face, and maybe it was this levity that allowed me to say “and so what if I am?”

I’ve heard that Tom Daley has defied a label, and I can already see the “new way of coming out for millennial” essays being written, but I just want to say that he’s done something more important than defy the label, he’s defied the closet. We don’t have to wait for the perfect world where “coming out won’t be needed.” We can demand the closets be destroyed.

You don’t have to be gay to do this, you can be as hetero as white bread and still defy the closet, go off script some times, inquire about girlfriends or boyfriends with your children. This goes doubly so for people who are on the constant “who cares?” parade, finally, we’re involving you.

*Lifted the title from this book.

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One Response to “Coming Out Is Bullshit”

  1. stvrsnbrgr December 4, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    The correct answer to the question “Who cares?” is: everyone.

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