This past week, the College of William and Mary has been celebrating National Coming Out Week. I don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly stated this in one of my past columns, but I identify as lesbian.
I have been confidently out since my senior year of high school, but National Coming Out Week reminds me that coming out is a constant, ongoing process. While I am open and “out” about my sexuality, I constantly have to come out to people over and over again. Whenever I meet someone new, I have to decide whether or not I want to come out to them, and when and how to do that if I so choose.
So, National Coming Out Week is certainly something to be celebrated, and taking the first step by coming out for the first time is a really big deal and something to be proud of. I think it is still worth it to remind ourselves of a few important things about coming out that can often get forgotten in the excitement.
National Coming Out Day is a great opportunity for people who may have felt hesitant about coming out for the first time to feel more confident about it. However, it is not always safe for people to come out. Additionally, some people simply may not want to be out to absolutely everyone, they may only want to be out to a few people. No matter what, it is always your choice who you come out to, and no one else should be making that decision for you.
As I mentioned, you will be coming out for the rest of your life; it is not a one and done kind of deal. What that means, however, is that you have some discretion as to the circumstances in which you want to be out. Unless you have “GAY” tattooed across your forehead, the whole world won’t know that you have come out. You do not have to tell everyone you meet, but you will have to make decisions about who you tell and when.
Ultimately, I would say I am about 99.99999999932432 percent lesbian (this is calculated based on the population of the world being about 7.4 billion, and the number of people with penises that I would bang being about five).
Sexuality is fluid. I did not come out as a lesbian when I first came out. I came out as bisexual. It took me a whole year after that to determine that I really identified much more as a lesbian than bisexual. A lot of this had to do with the fact that I had had real, genuine feelings for men before, and I did not know how to reconcile that with my lesbian identity. It took me some time, but I have come to understand that those past feelings are not invalidated by my current sexuality. I have simply evolved, and that is a-ok.
That being said, bisexuality is a real and valid identity, it is not just a “transitional phase.” It is ok if you come out as bisexual and discover later that you identify differently. It is also ok if you come out as gay and discover later that you identify differently. Coming out is a process and you can come in and out many different times in your life, as you and your sexuality grow and evolve. It is important to remember, however, that even though some people cycle through bisexuality, for other people it is the sexual identity that best describes them.
SEXUALITY IS FLUID. I can’t help but to repeat myself; I think this concept is so incredibly important. I do not believe that anyone is 100 percent gay or 100 percent straight or 100 percent anything. Ultimately, I would say I am about 99.99999999932432 percent lesbian (this is calculated based on the population of the world being about 7.4 billion, and the number of people with penises that I would bang being about five). The point is: Yes, I find myself attracted to men occasionally. Does that change the fact that I am about as gay as the day is long? Absolutely not. It just means I am human. Also, these words we use, lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc., are just words. They are labels we assign to ourselves to help describe our identity as best we can. They are by no means perfect and are not a be all end all.
If you are coming out, not coming out, or whatever you decide to do, the most important thing I would hope anyone could take away from this article is this:
Your identity is valid. Your decision to come out, or your decision to not come out, is valid. You are valid.