Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Again and again: some things never end!

This ‘coming out’ business really is a bit of a bind.

It never actually ends even though people tend to think of coming out as a single defining moment in a gay person’s life. Or, if they don’t view it as a single event, they think of it as a small series of events that occur within a small space of time.

First there’s the coming out to friends and family, two events that don’t usually happen together. Some come out to their family first but most gays come out to friends first. As it becomes easier for teenagers to come out, coming out to family first may become the norm and the two events will tend to meld into one.

These two events are followed by a wider coming out which mostly relates to coming out in larger social settings such as educational institutions and the workplace. By the time that that occurs, you can assume that the full ‘coming out process’ has happened and that person can no longer be defined as being ‘in the closet’. To this day, with much wider acceptance of gays in all walks of life and with legislation to protect gays from harassment and discrimination, there are still many gays, particularly those working in conservative professions and work environments, who can’t be regarded as ‘fully out’. Because they still feel uncomfortable coming out in such environments, they tend to keep quiet about their sexuality, often using the very valid excuse of ‘I don’t ask to know what they do at home or in bed so what I do there has nothing to do with them.’ That excuse, as valid as it may be, misses the point, somewhat. It also brings me back to my statement above where I say that coming out never really ends.

No one asks or speculates about what straight people get up to in the bedroom because people are assumed to be heterosexuals indulging in heterosexual behaviour. In an environment that makes that assumption, gay people will always need to come out. Unless someone is known of as gay, or is very obviously gay (a rather inexact way of identifying gay people!), a gay person is always going to be met with questions and assumptions about his or her private life based on the assumption that he or she is straight. And unless that person accepts or allows people to believe that false impression, it will be necessary to come out. Yet again!

And again and again and again.

Personally, I can’t ever see this changing. Of course coming out will become much easier with an ever-widening general acceptance of gays as being a permanent presence in all walks of life. But being a minority within a heterosexual world, gays will have to come out repeatedly throughout their lives beyond the first few major coming out episodes.

Are you wondering why I’ve inflicted this rather dry, unoriginal social commentary on you?

Well, sitting in a car with a colleague for close on 3 hours each day tends to produce conversations that delve into the more personal aspects of one’s life. Those aspects can be skirted around or ignored but eventually one has to face them and either tell the truth or lie. At the risk of having my daily 3 hours with him turn into a rather awkward affair or, worse, have my lift brought to an abrupt stop, I told him I’m gay. :-)

So, since I came out again today, I thought I’d tell you about it as a precursor to making the obligatory ‘coming out post’. It may not happen soon, but when it does, you’ll have read this as an introduction.


Blogger rhino75 said...

VERY true, there's always that awkward moment and you can almost feel it coming.... It really irritates me but, hey, it comes with the territory. People are nosey, I am myself. I've had a look at your blog and I like it - do you really live in Nottingham's Lace Market? I can remember when that was really run down, not full of trendy loft apartments!! Keep it coming, cheers

5:38 pm  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

I'm nosey, yeah, but for all my nosiness, I tend to respect people's private lives and don't dig. I find too many other things to relate to people about.

5:54 pm  
Blogger andrea said...

What I don't get is the fact that people rarely consider the sex lives of heterosexuals, but not so when they discover a person's gay. I was watching Six Feet Under last night and realised how, as a viewer, the relationship of the gay couple seems so normalised now, un-noteworthy in any way, and what a huge step forward that is.

6:34 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

rhino75: thanks for the compliment. As for living in the Lacemarket, I actually live in Hockley village, not quite as upmarket as the Lacemarket. I'm not sure when the area got gentrified but it happened before I moved here about 2 years ago. Lots of rennovation and new buildings, all very expensive!

gyuana-gal: a healthy dose of nosiness that isn't disrespectful is very healthy, in my opinion. Lots of English people think nosiness is just that and best avoided in polite company, something I find strange and don't agree with.

andrea: things have definitely moved forward a lot in recent years even though there's a lot more travelling before things are 'normal', so to speak

9:11 pm  
Blogger BUDDESS said...

This actually made me rethink my reactions on finding out that one on my friends is a lesbian. We used to do lots of things together, until she "came out" to me and that made me very uncomfortable initially. I didn't see much of her after that, not because I have a problem with her sexuality, but because she didn't only want to be my friend anymore.

7:46 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

If she fancied you and made her intentions clear, I can see how that could make you feel uncomfortable at first.

10:03 am  

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