Coming out to my parents was comically anticlimactic. I was 22 and a (modest) lifetime of exposure to the vitriol of bigots had managed to tarnish even something as personal as my understanding of the humans who raised me. Images of burning pitchforks and my exile into the cold, stormy night – with nothing but a stale loaf of bread and my Lip Service season 2 DVD flung into in a spotty handkerchief on a stick over my shoulder – flashed through my head as I sat my folks down with those fateful words “I have something to tell you”. After confessing my devout Sapphism and promptly bursting into tears, dad just looked mildly relieved and mum said “why are you crying darling? it’s your life to do whatever you want with it!” and in true British fashion, instinctively popped the kettle on.
“When did you know?” is a question reserved purely for squirming young queers and was always destined to be an awkward one considering your answer is likely to entail something sexual. It’s like “Well, whatdaya wanna know, Mum? Fancy a detailed description of the first time Lily Hopkins fingered me at the school disco?!” No one wants to have that horrific conversation – parent or child – and like our heterosexual counterparts, we should never be expected to. I knew when I knew, end of, please don’t ask questions you really don’t want the answers to, my beautiful, innocent creators.
What people fail to tell you is that cagey feeling doesn’t stop at that initial crescendo conversation . As I’ve grown deeper into my twenties I’ve discovered that coming out is a bit like Narnia: even after your inaugural emergence from the tundra somehow you always find yourself back in that bloody closet; except this one is considerably less enchanting (and contains considerably more beavers) than the one C.S Lewis promised. Whether you’re working in a dodgy pub in East London where the punters are vocally homophobic, or correcting the sweet old lady across the road on your partner’s pronouns – you find yourself either coming out, or barricading the doors from the inside all over again.
Other than my totally unwarranted fear of coming out to my parents, from the moment I figured it out within myself – the Keira Knightley posters, the gradual wearing down of the Coyote Ugly DVD – it became a positive part of my identity devoid of any shame or denial. The realisation was actually exhilarating – a whole new world had opened up for me and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. The only thing that threatened that beauty was the reality of the world that lay beyond it – the one with the No Campaign, Trump and The Westboro Baptist Church. I’ve never had an issue with being gay; I’ve had issues dealing with other people’s issues with me being gay.
So on National Coming Out Day I’m sending all the love and gratitude to the queer folks who paved the way before us and gave us license to be out and proud, to the brave queer folks who have come out already and continue to do so every day, and to our queer pals peeking out of the closet who may just need a little bit more time. 🌈💪❤️😘