When I came out, I thought I would come out once in a big moment and that would be it. Somehow, from then on, I’d be ‘out’ to everyone everywhere and I’d never have to do it again. I didn’t even take into consideration that the way 13-year-old me felt, with my limited range of LGBT+ vocabulary, might change as I grew and so would how I understood the community and myself–that I might change my labels completely.
Without thinking about having to come out as something new entirely (because exploring your identity and exploring labels is okay!), coming out over and over again is something every LGBT+ person deals with. It can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and especially nerve-wracking when the person you’re coming out to isn’t part of the community.
You might be thinking, “Why can’t you just not come out? Is it that important to shout your identity at every person you see?”
‘Coming out’ doesn’t always have to be flat-out telling someone that you’re part of the community. It can be a bisexual man telling a story that involves his boyfriend, and coming out simply as part of the community by mentioning his partner.
It can be a trans woman growing her hair out and being teased about being too unmasculine. Coming out happens all the time and our identities are something that is apart of who we are–it isn’t something we can easily hide.
But that bisexual man scoped the room out before he came out. He made sure everyone in that room was supportive of the LGBT+ community because you never know what little comment will set a homophobe off. Gay panic is still a perfectly valid legal defense.
That trans woman has to be careful who she tells what. She tells some people that she’s trans, and some that she’s just trying out a new look. The highest rate of trans murders happen against trans women.
Even if you’re coming out to people who you know are perfectly safe and will accept you, it’s still nerve-wracking. Especially when you’ve come out more than once. You question yourself and make yourself doubt what feels right.
Imagine playing one of those ‘say three things about you’ games, but with strangers for the rest of your life–and you could be hurt for it. So just remember when people are coming out to you that they may come out a few times, and that’s okay. Their coming out to you is also a sign of trust, so support the people who feel safe enough around you to come out to the best of their abilities.