Recently, there has been a lot of progress in regards to LGBTQ+ issues within society. Admittedly, it doesn’t always feel this way; there has, of course, been resistance, and those who will fight tooth and nail to prevent LGBTQ+ equality legislation, including gay marriage. But, if you take the last decade, for example, there has been major progress in regards to the rights of LGBTQ+ people all over the world. Gay marriage is now legal here in the UK, as well as in several other countries — and whilst it is nowhere near enough to stop there, it is definitely progress, and every step counts. There is still far too much suffering, with the large majority of countries still punishing those in sane sex relationships, but progress in a minority of areas does mean something, and if nothing else it ambitiously hopes to lead by example.
Along with progress comes discussion, especially surrounding the topic of coming out. Despite being late to the party, I thoroughly recommend you watch the film Love, Simon, which is now available to buy online and on DVD (is that even still a thing?). It deals with the topic of coming out, and the complications that can surround that decision, in a way which stands out for its meaningfulness and realistic portrayal.
I’m no expert in the area of coming out; I am out to most of my friends — out as what, I don’t really know. I use to classify it as bi-leaning-gay, meaning that although I see myself as bisexual, I tend to place myself at the homosexual end of the spectrum; I’m more attracted to guys than girls, generally. I soon stopped using this description, simply because I decided it sounded more homophobic than anything else: I am not, I repeat NOT, leaning on any gay people. I promise.
It’s difficult, coming out. I don’t mean the actual act of sitting someone down, and having the, “I don’t exclusively (or indeed inclusively) like the percentage of the population that your mess of a society tells me I ought to like — surprise!”. No, I mean coming out to yourself. It’s one thing having feelings for someone, whether that be a guy if you’re a guy, or a girl if you’re a girl, or whoever you have feelings for. It is, however, quite another thing to accept within yourself that you’re having those feelings, and that they’re real, and that they need to be acknowledged.
Nobody chooses their sexuality. Frankly, given the conclusive choice, I would choose to be straight, because it would result in fewer awkward conversations, fewer confusing inner-crises, and would give a meaningful use to the two years of sex education I endured as an early teenager. Alas, that decision isn’t mine to make. I’m not saying I’m not happy with who I am — of course I am —, I’m just saying that sexuality isn’t a choice, and it isn’t something that you can just flit around with.
“Hey, I’m feeling gay today…”
People who don’t follow the social convention of boys-should-be-with-girls aren’t choosing to be awkward, or different. It’s just how things work out, and there is as little sense in blaming the individual for being gay, or bi, or pan, as there is for blaming a straight person for not snogging the face off of someone of the same sex to themselves.
Sometimes, I think I’m gay — often, actually. I like guys, and that’s cool. And, honestly, I do; it’s how I feel, and that’s absolutely fine, and OK, and something to be proud of. Equally, though, I have a paranoid section of my brain (of course), which constantly chatters away, the undertone to every thought I have. What if it’s a phase? What if it’s a really long, prolonged phase? What if you come out to everyone, and it all goes unbelievably smoothly, and then you wake up the next morning and like girls?
It’s not going to happen. I know it’s not going to happen, and that’s a good thing, in my mind — I know my sexuality. But that doesn’t stop the paranoid voice in my head, whirling around and around, spinning me into a panicked mess of complicated “what ifs”.
Bisexuality almost feels like a safe zone: I like guys, but if my brain is playing tricks, and is working alongside my heart to deceive me for whatever twisted reason, I can retract that, and nothing can go wrong — no harm done. But that’s not true, and I know it. Without sounding like the campest of camp cliches, I can’t live a lie; no one can, and no one should have to, or feel they have to.
Coming out to yourself is letting go of that questioning, doubtful fear. It’s accepting that, for better or for worse, this is where you’re at: this is you. This is me, and whilst I can’t say I’m fully out to the world — that is going to take a lot of time, a lot of tact and a lot of careful planning —, I’m out to myself, and that’s such a huge, important first step.