Prior to sharing the "big news" with my family and friends, I knew that I would either embark on the happiest or the most wretched journey of my life. As many queer people do, I had the option to either feel restricted or to be open, although ridicule may come with openness.
Despite feeling trapped and unable to express myself, I did not want to be liberated at the expense of losing relationships and friendships. As a pre-teenager who watched the news, which featured disownment, harsh treatments, bashings and murders of gay people, I feared for my life. I constantly questioned if honesty to the world was worth being beaten, harassed and possibly killed. Coming out was one of the hardest tasks of my life. Although it has its ups-and-downs, I do not regret being open and honest with myself.
Even though I did not openly state my sexuality until May 2008, I was taunted by classmates for many years, and even more so after I officially came out. In sixth grade, a few classes went to go watch a musical at a local high school. While we were walking into a venue, there was my obnoxious peer who kept saying, "We all know you're GAY, just admit it!" I tried to ignore her, then she said it again, "You're GAY right? Just admit it." Luckily, there was a very sweet boy who defended me by saying, "Shut up! Who cares if he's gay, it doesn't make a difference." After feeling frustrated with the situation and frustrated with being taunted, I yelled, "FINE. I am gay. Leave me alone." I never understood and I still do not understand why some people feel obligated to know whom I love. The sense of entitlement is egotistical and rude, because if someone is not comfortable sharing this information, we should not stress it. This is the same for queer persons: we should not try to forcefully "out" someone. It is not our prerogative. Curiosity is fine until it turns into aggression.
Cons: For once, I felt happy after sharing this information, but I was not entirely ready for the consequences. Although the girls glamorized me and wanted me to be their "gay best friend" (which I will discuss the offensiveness of in a different post), the majority of the boys in my school hated me. I always felt uncomfortable walking down the halls. I was constantly called "fag" and "homo." These are just words, but these words had power. Sharing this information also stunted the possibility for me to have friendships with boys; none of them wanted to be around me. I would feel highly uncomfortable walking into the bathrooms or the locker rooms, because they would quickly flee the area as I entered. Fortunately, I never endured physical violence, just verbal harassment and discomfort. My heart goes out to those who are still dealing with these issues, and just remember that there are a ton of resources out there for you.
Pros: Not everything about coming out was negative. Before coming out, I was extremely insecure, timid and defensive. Afterwards, I had a better sense of myself, and I could honestly express my opinions. I did not need to hide my feelings towards equality, because I knew that I deserved to be treated equally. After coming out, I also had an amazing support system. When you can share this information with special people, it can enhance your friendships and it gives you the opportunity to discover who loves you for you and not for an overrated label. With time, a sense of community will grow and you will meet others who share similar values, interests and emotions.
Just remember that it is always your choice if you want to share your personal life with others. Although others may try to make you feel obligated, you do not owe anything to them. Similarly to everything in life, there are pros and cons, and this is the same for coming out. In no way am I saying that everyone's experiences will be the same, but people can be evil, so be conscious and knowledgeable about how this decision may affect your life. Even if you cannot be honest with others, stay true to yourself at all times.
We are born, we pay taxes and we die, but be yourself should be somewhere in that timeline.