In case you never heard of it, much like myself, last Tuesday was International Coming Out Day. Who’d a thunk it? A special day for people to announce to their family, friends, the world even, that they are in fact gay, bi, trans, or any of the other categories that account for ‘queer.’
Personally, I came out when I was 15 years old, to much the shock of my parents and friends. I don’t know why; I’d only ever had one girlfriend and it was quite obvious that the only reason she was a round was because her brother was excruciatingly cute. That was the thing to do though in the 1990s when you realized you were gay – you came out.
But, why may I ask, is coming out still a thing? Are we not past the point where one’s sexuality is who they are? Straight folk don’t announce their affinity for the opposite sex to their family and friends, so why should those of us that classify as homosexual have to go through the pain and agony of this life-altering experience?
Maybe it is just me, but when I meet people, I do not attach a sexual orientation to them. They are just people; some like boys, some like girls. Some like both; some like none. We are not here to judge one another for what our sexual preferences are, and, if according to Pierre Trudeau, “the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,” why does anyone else?
But here’s the kicker – judgment. Other people judge something that is none of their business. This is where we get the concepts of homophobia, transphobia and queerphobia. It is something that is different, therefore we must hate it. Over the years we have seen countless waves of activism; from the suffragettes to the ERA, as well as giant leaps forward in racial equality. For some reason, though, there is still a lot of judgment with who you decide to go to bed with at night. It does not make sense, and it is time for strengthening activism in this respect.
Now, I am not saying that there is a lot of homophobia in Toronto, but the opposite. I have experienced surprisingly little. I came out 16 years ago, and in that time I have met ignorant people, but no one that has wanted to bash my head in because I like boys. It has basically been a non-issue in my life. I do not volunteer this information any longer, simply because I don’t see the point in it. If we are just going to study together, or have dinner together, or work together, how is it important or relevant at all?
At the same time, I do not hide the fact that I am gay. I talk openly about partners, about the bars I go to, about different elements of my life that give away that fact about me. Sometimes people are shocked, others are not. Either way, I stopped ‘coming out’ per se.
I think that the days of making assumptions about one’s sexuality should come to an end, as should this whole process of coming out.
With that said, I would like to end my post with some help for those of you that may be struggling with coming to terms with your sexuality, or even struggling figuring it out at all. U of T has a bounty of resources available for LGBTQ-identifying students, and here is a short list to help you in your personal journey.
First, there is the Sexual & Gender Diversity Office, which is operated by U of T staff. They offer resources and programming for employees and students that range from socials to meet like-minded friends to ways to report harassment on campus.
Another great resource is LGBTOUT. They are a student group based out of the Sussex Clubhouse that provides programming for LGBTQ students. They also have a drop-in centre located at 73 St. George Street (across from Sid Smith), in the archway under the clock tower of the Daniel Wilson Residence.
These are just a few of the resources available, and I am sure that there is no way that I could possibly list them all here for you. But, if you have a group on or off campus that is out there to help people who are ‘out there,’ please share it in the comments section, as well as any personal stories you or friends have in regards to, or generally about, coming out.