"I'm 14 years old, gay, and my dad is in the military so we move around a lot. How do I deal with having to come out over and over again?”
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Shane Billings as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions
The coming out process has actually been on my mind quite a bit recently. I’ve noticed that, even ten years after I started coming out myself, it can still be a challenging task. You’re not alone.
The sort-of-bad news is that coming out is rarely a one-stop shop. And by “rarely” I mean sometimes Olympians like Tom Daley date Oscar-winners, then come out with a viral video, so…. if you can pull it off, there’s that option.
But, silver lining! The coming outs can be whatever you want them to be, and can happen however you want them to happen. You have the added challenge of moving around military-family style, which can be exhausting every time you have to rehash your personal intro. But if you add a little creativity to coming out, it can alleviate the anxiety that usually goes hand in hand with being vulnerable around new people.
For example, you could set up a Secrets Booth, where people come to trade secrets with you. That way, you level the playing field when it comes to disclosing personal information. There’s also the right-off-the-bat approach, which goes something like…
“Bonjour, I’m Shane and also gay, smell ya later!”
If you’re inclined towards the written word, some of my closest friends have had positive experiences in writing coming out e-mails. You can preface with something like, “I’m figuring out the best way to do this, so here goes….” Writing letters, e-mails, or private messages gives you the literary freedom and control to articulate yourself the precise way you want.
You’re also totally justified in saying, “I don’t feel comfortable talking about it,” if your sexuality comes up, or you’d rather come out after you get to know people a tad better.
If you let it, coming out can become an ongoing skill and a helpful tool, rather than a burden. My big picture advice: within safety and reason, come out as often as you can. Say it to the mirror, sing it underwater, write it on a bathroom stall. Make prank calls and say, “Hello, I’m gay. Have a wonderful day, sir or ma’am.”
Don’t pass up an opportunity to be courageous, even by yourself. You are an extremely important figure in the big gay narrative. Stories like yours, that demonstrate continuous courage, those are the stories that inspire others to do the same, to be themselves.
It’s an enormous responsibility and a fabulous privilege. Your coming out helps build a safer community, by outnumbering the fears that keep us in the closet. It doesn’t have to be HIGH KICKS and GLITTER every time. But every time a gay kid comes out, a drag queen gets her wigs. Let that comforting thought be the wind beneath your wings.
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