It wasn’t the first time I’d had the whole class laughing at me, or that a teacher had been involved.
I can’t even remember the context of the conversation, but it must have been something to do with distraction because the form master had asked what would happen if Elle MacPherson came in and sat atop a table at the front of the room in her underwear.
I’d said I wouldn’t be particularly interested, and that caused howls of derision, not least of which from the teacher himself. I later found out that he had a penchant for sexually harassing female students, something that was hushed up (this was a Catholic school after all), so his moral compass was already bent.
The conversation moved on from there, thankfully, and didn’t get into the “are you queer or something” thread that it could have, but if a similar conversation were to happen today in a roomful of strangers, I would have no hesitation in answering “yes” to that question.
That wasn’t always the case, and if National Coming Out Day – celebrated this month in the US – were a more recognised event in this part of the world, maybe I might have used it as an excuse to come out instead of waiting until I couldn’t hold it in any longer at 15.
Malcolm Ingram, director of the excellent documentaries “Small Town Gay Bar” and “Bear Nation” had this to say on Facebook:
I came out real late…. In my Thirties….. I always thought that gay was an affliction. Something I needed to conquer. That led to a very messy, confused and lonely first 30 years….. I remember a time when the mere concept of being “out” was so completely foreign. Now I couldn’t imagine being any other way…..For anyone considering making the leap…….. Always remember……The people you lose along the way were never worth it……and the people you gain are invaluable and end up helping define you. One truth is that once you make that first step…..the real you is waiting on the other side….. Come on in……the waters fine. Happy Coming Out Day!
Inspiring and true words, but as we all know, you actually never stop getting into the water. Every day is National Coming Out Day.
You ring the bank to check something out on your joint account, and get quizzed with enough security questions that you have to make it clear that you and the other named person are romantic partners.
You ring a utility company to check out something on a bill, mention your partner and have to correct the operator three times when they refer to your partner as “she” and wait while they cough.
Checking into a hotel, and explaining that you’d booked a double room, not a twin because they’d assumed two men wouldn’t be a couple.
Starting a new job…when do you say something, if anything? I know guys who are not out at work and say that the subject never comes up. I find this hard to believe – sexuality is such an intrinsic part of our daily lives and conversation that there are multiple opportunities throughout a day where you can choose to come out, or to closet yourself. Particularly in a male-dominated workplace, the Elle MacPherson scenario is a common one.
According to Wikipedia, National Coming Out Day recognises that coming out is a “cultural rite of passage” for GLBT people. But it’s more than that – it’s actually part of our daily routine.
This article first appeared in Christopher’s own blog Bipolar Bear here.