Earlier this week, Stacey sent me a link to the blog of an American mother raising a gender creative child (her term, not mine). Raising My Rainbow is the story of CJ, told by CJ’s mother and detailing the life of her, CJ, CJ’s brother and other family members. Now I’m a sucker for a good real-life story (and particularly one with an LGBT slant to it) and I have so much respect and admiration for this lovely lady who is so obviously doing an amazing job raising her children. You can read Raising My Rainbow here.
I managed to read a good number of the blog posts, starting at the most recent and working backwards. When I got to the blog post regarding the possibility of CJ never having to come out of the closet (if he does grow up to identify as gay, that is) because he never entered it at all, I flinched.
Being gay (or bisexual, as I identify) makes so many things harder. This isn’t a moan, it’s just a fact. Sometimes they are literally harder; like not being able to get married here in the UK, the difficultly in having children or the homophobia that we can face. Other things are harder because of the way we feel; things like telling a different-to-usual doctor that we’re gay, new work colleagues that our partner is of the same sex as us, or a hotel receptionist that yes, we do want a double bed, thank you very much. There is this fear that we are going to be judged for who we love, who we date, who we sleep with. And this lead to the further realisation that despite the fact that I came out to my mother almost two years ago, and to friends some time before that, I still have to come out over and over and over again.
I’d like to say, at this point, that this is not a coming out story. I don’t think my story is either very interesting or helpful to those who are still in the closet, and I’m not sure it’s something that I currently want to share online. However, my mum was/is very supportive of my relationship with Stacey, and I know I had it easy, in comparison to a great deal of LGBT young people out there. Yet, regardless of whether your ‘big reveal’ is easy and pain-free, or a hugely distressing and scary as a life event, that does not change the fact that for the majority of us, coming out is not something that we do just once. Coming out occurs over and over again over the course of a lifetime.
And it doesn’t get much easier or less scary. With employers and colleagues, the fear that someone will be homophobic is pressing; no one wants to have to work with people who disagree with who they are – regardless of whether homophobic comments are made or not. Just knowing that someone thinks that you have a choice, that actually, we’re just being different, being difficult – it makes it hard to stay calm, to stay reasonable. And that makes working with them hard. Sometimes there is a temptation to just not tell them – not because you’re ashamed, but because it’s easier.
Often, people judge you when you come out to them. They look at you differently, even if for a split second. It’s the way you can almost see the thought forming in their head: “But you don’t LOOK gay” or “Oh crap, I’ve been making gay jokes in front of you.” Even when they’re accepting of your sexuality, there’s still this change in perception which happens the moment the words leave your mouth. Whether these are people you’ve known for years and grown up with, or they’re folk you’ve just met, there’s a difficulty in putting yourself out there when you know you’re going to be judged. Especially when you have to do this on a weekly basis.
So what do you do when you’re in the bakery and the kindly man behind the counter asks if the huge, elaborate chocolate cake that you’ve just bought is a treat for your boyfriend? Do you just smile and nod, the lie bitter on your tongue but the requirement for an easy life? Or do you square your shoulders and say with a smile on your face ‘No, it’s for my girlfriend, and she’s going to love it’?
I wish I could say that I always do the latter – but I don’t. Sometimes it’s because I’m worried about my safety if I announce my sexuality, but most of the time I don’t want to be judged by my choice in partner when I’m doing my grocery shopping – can you blame me?Carley