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Should People Have To Come Out?

By June 24, 2019 No Comments

By: Isabel Moon

Hi. I’m Izzy Moon and I’m bisexual. Coming out probably seems like a one-and-done deal, but it is a process that I’m still definitely going through. After the first few (hundred) times, coming out gets tedious, so I’ve started to wonder whether or not people should have to come out.

I’d love to say that I could just give one big story about how I came out, but that’s never been the case. I’ve come out in so many ways, like face-to-face or Snapchatting my Day of Silence face paint or even a short text. The first time I came out to someone, I told them face-to-face, kept my voice low, and begged for our friendship to stay the same. I didn’t want to be treated differently, and I still don’t. Coming out for the first time meant that I could have been sacrificing one of my best friends. Once I crossed that bridge, there was really no stopping. I slowly worked my way through telling my friends, making sure they would know this part of my life that I couldn’t keep secret. It got to a point where I just assumed that all my close friends knew. At cheer camp, one of my close friends and I were talking about relationships (and my severe lack thereof) when I mentioned that if I got a girlfriend, it wouldn’t be at least until college because no one is out and willing to date me at the same time. She started laughing, and upon realizing I was serious, she asked me why I hadn’t told her about it before. My response: “Shoot. Did I not come out to you yet?” Her response was an emphatic NO. We laughed about it for little before she assured me that it’s fine that I’m not straight. My sexuality wasn’t a big deal with anyone that I came out to until I told my parents.

Here’s the thing. My parents are good Christian churchgoers who also happen to be traditional Asian parents with traditional Asian morals. When I came out to them, I was forced into it. I had just told my cousin, and she was texting me about how it was nice to get to know me better and how she totally knew it! and she’s glad I could trust her. My mom had my phone when another text came. It was pretty vague, so when my mom asked, I told her the worst possible answer. “I’ll tell you soon, but I’m not comfortable telling you about it right now.” When she wasn’t asking me about what my cousin said, she was mentioning it to my dad, that their daughter was keeping secrets. She pestered me about it at dinner until I couldn’t keep it in anymore when I told them the truth. I forget most of what they said to me because I was crying so hard, but I got the gist. What happened? What went wrong? What did they do wrong? Where was their daughter because this girl right here was not her. I wanted to tell them that nothing was wrong and that I am still the same person and I wanted them to love me just as much despite the small detail that is my sexuality. There are people who have it worse than me. Kicked out, shunned, even killed. And yet, it still stung so hard when Mom’s face just crumpled and I couldn’t tell whether it was disappointment or disgust. There’s sort of a soul-shattering moment when you realize that your parents can’t love you as much as they did because of who you are and what you cannot change. And no one can really give me the  “I’m sure they still love you,” because I know they do, but there’s the truth that even though they want to accept me, they aren’t fully getting there because of their own ideals conflicting with who I am, and who I’ll always be. I wonder if they regret pushing me to that point, or if they wish they never knew. Even writing this paragraph was hard, because that’s a memory I’d rather forget, but I can’t and I shouldn’t. It’s shaped me as a person and helped me grow into who I am.

Coming out to my parents was difficult because, looking back, I really should not have trusted them. It’s difficult coming out to people that you should not have trusted, because you never realize the right thing to do until after it’s happened. I know for a fact that even before I started this speech, most of you knew that I’m bisexual. I doubt I’ve told at least half of you to your faces before someone else did first. I remember not coming out to one of my best friends because I was afraid of being judged, even more so than being rejected. So I didn’t. I figured I would just forget about it and hopefully never have to bring it up. This friend and I were talking, and they mentioned my sexuality. I had never really said anything about it because of fear of being looked down upon, but they knew anyway. I asked them almost incessantly about who had told them, but the truth was kind of a blow to my innocence and to my trust in the person that told them. Someone else who was close to the the both of us had told them about me before I could. They were okay with who I am, which is relieving, but I wish that I had the opportunity to be as genuine with this friend as I had with others, and that was taken away from me. I thought it was my fault for a long time. That I should have been more open, and I should have told them instead of deciding to keep that information to myself. Then I realized that it was no longer entirely my decision to come out to people, and I should stop blaming myself and let things take their own course. It was out of my hands, but that’s okay. I’m still a little scared of what this friend has done or will do with the information, because I wasn’t there to set any ground rules right off the bat, and I’m not sure how seriously they’ll take me. But I wanted to be more open anyway, right? It’s one thing to know your friends have been saying things, but the “news” got really out of hand really fast and I wasn’t even aware. This past summer, my cousin was in an internship with someone who also went to Prep. I’d never met or spoken to this other person before but he knew me. He knew me as the “gay one with blue hair”. Word travels fast, I guess. It took a lot of introspective thinking (which I don’t do often) to ask myself the question, “Why should I come out to people?”

As a bisexual person, I probably could have done without coming out until (more like if) I got in a relationship with a girl. The only reason I thought I had to come out was because everything I’ve ever heard about queer people and identities included coming-out stories, so I thought I had to have my own. Coming out was a part of the package. I would have been fine without having to make a big deal, or any deal, really, about my sexuality. The pressure to come out came entirely from myself. I can’t really blame pop culture, but I will say that it definitely influenced my views on my sexuality. You know, coming out is a brave statement going against the status quo! Valuing honesty! Love is love! Gay is okay! And then there’s my usual coming out experience, where it’s mostly me saying, “BI the way, I’m kinda gay!” with finger guns, and the person on the receiving end laughing and calling me stupid before giving me a hug. Really though, coming out isn’t a big deal to me anymore, so I don’t know why it should be to anyone else. There’s this duality that I’ve definitely struggled with in terms of coming out, especially about whether or not I should have done so in the first place. I’m glad that I’ve been able to sort of soften the blow, I guess, and also figure out now who I should trust and who I should keep at a distance. But I also wish I could just say the words, “My girlfriend…” or “My partner…” without scaring someone or pushing them away. I shouldn’t need to give someone a fair warning or lose relationships because of the gender (or lack thereof) of the people that I like. I think it depends on the person that I would come out to or not. There are certain people in my life who would not care about who I went out with, but there are other people who I think really appreciated the heads-up. I don’t think that there is a “right” course of action for any one person, to be perfectly honest. It really depends on one’s situation, and coming out should only be done when you feel it’s right.

Coming out should be a personal choice, but in a perfect world, there should be no need to do so. It certainly would have made my life a lot easier if I didn’t feel the pressure to come out. There might never be perfect freedom with people’s sexuality, but very very deep down, I can sometimes be an optimist, and I really do hope that one day in the future, different sexualities will be as common and accepted as different eye colors.

Isabel Moon has written one other piece for Overachiever Magazine entitled Cut it Out: Cosmetic Blepharoplasty in South Korea versus the United States. She is so grateful for the opportunity to explore her identity by sharing her writing.

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