A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests
I’m delighted to present another guest post, this time from Verne Lewis who expands on the blog post I previously flagged up. If you would like to write a guest post for this blog, give me a shout at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently wrote a blog post about coming out at university, based on my own experiences. The reason I wrote it was because I think university is a great place to make a fresh start in telling a whole group of new people if you couldn’t find the courage to tell the existing people in your life. I am however completely aware that coming out is personal choice, and the process is completely different for everyone and would like to respond to those who have highlighted this after reading the blog, particularly those who have highlighted that some people choose not to come out at all.
The problem is, coming out is something we as gay people will have to do for the rest of our lives, if we want someone to know who we really are, because people continue to make assumptions about sexuality and what they consider ‘the norm’. Although most people know about me I still don’t choose to come out to everyone, and often my decision is based on how well I think I’ll end up knowing the person.
If a shop assistant said something about my ‘boyfriend’ I’d nod and agree, knowing I’d probably never see them again, and it being easier to agree than to come out to a 16 year old shelf stacker in the middle of the cake aisle at Tesco. But say someone at work asks if I live with my ‘boyfriend’? Perhaps it would be easier to say yes, and hope you don’t see them too much in the future. But then you might see them again, and again, and then at what point do you say to them ‘actually, I made that up, and this is who I really am’.
As non-specific gender terms such as ‘partner’ become more popular, it is becoming easier not to have to say anything until you’re ready, without having to lie, and for that I’m sure many of us are grateful. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people have still not caught on to this.
I don’t really think it’s an issue about homosexuality being all you’re about, but for someone to completely know you I think it’s important for them to know that part of you. I live with my girlfriend, so obviously it’s a massive part of my life, but even if you’re single I still see it as an important step, not just for others to understand you but also for your own self approval. I’ve known many people who have spent years not telling people, but as they keep it from others it also keep it from themselves, often meaning they live a completely different life just to cover something that they can’t admit. They end up doing things they regret and giving themselves unnecessary stress and upset as a result – keeping something to yourself often turns situations into much bigger problems than they need to be.
Coming out to yourself is often a long and difficult process, with self-denial a big part of the initial stage, and then once you’ve gone through that you have the rest of the world to come out to for years to come. I completely understand making the choice not to come out to every single person you meet, but I do think it’s important to at least be honest with yourself and those closest to you.