The Process of Coming Out Again and Again

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I read, with some interest, the EW interview with Sean Maher (Firefly!) in which he comes out of the closet after a career of almost 14 years, citing extreme fear as to why he didn’t do so much earlier. I really feel for this guy as straight people, honestly, have no idea just how damn scary it is to come out and how, unless you are a celebrity, you have to keep coming out your entire life. It isn’t a one time thing, not even close.  Every new person you meet and every new social situation you find yourself in, you as a gay person, have to make the decision to come out or stay closeted. Also, the fear over coming out doesn’t really get any less. Sure in some situations, it is easier, but in most you have to make some judgement calls about the people you are with and whether it is even safe to reveal your sexuality.

I am an ‘openly’ gay woman.  I say openly in comma marks because even though I am out at work and to my family and friends and online, I am not out in all areas of my life.  The one place where I’m not out and where this is slightly bugging me, is my German class. My German class is not just a group of random people I learn German with, I have known most of them for almost a year and besides spending 3 hours a week learning German together, we also go out to the pub and to dinner every couple of months.  These are people I would class as my friends or at the very least, very good acquaintances. I feel like, at times, I’m being dishonest.  I have never lied about my sexuality, it has never come up, but I feel I haven’t been completely honest. I just avoid any questions about my love life or if asked directly, I play ‘the pronoun game’. The reason I don’t admit I am gay is that I’m too damn scared to.  I’m scared of being shunned by them, being the class outcast that no one wants to sit next to or speak to because they are gay. This fear has no basis in reality. No one in my class has made even a remotely homophobic remark. Yet still I have this irrational fear.

You would think coming out would get easier over time and the more comfortable you are with your sexuality, but it really doesn’t.  There always seem to be situations where coming out is just too damn scary.  I wish it didn’t need to be this way.

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About Meg

A thirty something queer Aussie geek girl who now lives in Germany.
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8 Responses to The Process of Coming Out Again and Again

  1. Dixie says:

    This makes me sad. On one hand I think “Just do it! It’ll be fine!” but what if it isn’t fine? What if you do get rejected by someone over something that shouldn’t matter? You shouldn’t have to live with uncertainty hanging over you and that saddens me.

    • Riayn says:

      That is the issue with coming out, sometimes it isn’t fine. I have lost friends because I’m gay and my family had a very tough dealing with it when I first came out and today still some members of my extended family don’t really accept me.

      • The problem is that you will never really know whether it is going to be fine or not until you actually come out. Some people spend their entire lives fearing something that never happens and then resent themselves for not being braver and wasting their lives because of fear, others get the courage and then blame others because it isn’t fine like they expected, although sometimes it does eventually work out. Ultimately though, when you look at it, you have to think about what you can control versus what you can’t control – you cannot control how people are going to react to you being gay or not, but you can control when you tell them. People who aren’t going to be fine with it are going to have issues whether you tell them or not – all it’s going to do is make you paranoid about whether they know or not. At least you remove that stress, you know they know, and you know they aren’t fine. In all cases, being honest beats uncertainty, because you cannot and should not control the reactions of others. All you can do is trust in others to react fairly and appropriately, and give them time to take in the news and adjust.

  2. mark says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen your posts and you just now made me realize that I play the decision game every time I meet new people. “Do I say it? Will they just guess?”. Coming out to people is indeed difficult enough the first time, but knowing I’ll have to do it over and over again feels daunting. Chin up tho – I think you’ll find Euopeans a little more open.
    Be safe and good luck!

  3. It gets tiring coming out all the time and really, if the person or people wouldn’t or don’t have to know about your home life, even if you were straight, then maybe there’s no percentage in outing yourself.

    I get it that when people know that they know a gay person, their homophobia can go down – assuming the gay person is a good ambassador for gaydom – but somedays, I just don’t want to gear up for ambassadordom.

    I just want to do whatever it is that I am doing and get on with it.

  4. lirontocker says:

    Perhaps this is too personal of a comment, feel free not to answer or to answer me privately if you prefer. I’m curious to know why it matters at all that your classmates know that you’re gay? Is your sexual orientation of any relevence to your relationship with them? Just because you haven’t shared your sexual orientation with them doesn’t, in my opinion, imply you’re being dishonest – just that it’s not been a relevant factor in your relationship with your classmates.

    This goes for the workplace as well – I recently finished a 4-year job at a company here in Hamburg, perhaps one of the employees knew I swing both ways – because it was relevant to the conversation we happened to have had. Basically, it’s just not a big of a deal.

    The only time it became a “big deal” is when I came out to my parents – and that was probably only because I was expecting it to be one.

    • Riayn says:

      To be honest, it wouldn’t matter to me at all if my classmates had no idea about my sexual orientation except for the fact that we have to have conversation about topics like getting married, what you like in the opposite sex, things that annoy you about them where it is automatically assumed that you are straight. These are all great conversations for learning German and great for the 99% of my classmates who are straight or bi. But for me, I have to lie during some of these conversations and hence it feels dishonest.

      • lirontocker says:

        You shouldn’t ever have to lie, but in this case, this is a choice you are making. You can simply answer the questions in a way which is relevant for you – this is a far better way, in my opinion, of learning German. If you lie, you’re just teaching yourself not to catch the curveballs.

        Saying “this question is not relevant for me because…” shows that you can think on your feet and use the language in a much more spontaneous, conversational way.

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