How many times have I heard the following statements? “Why do gay people have to come out?” or “Straight people to come out.” Those individuals who complain the most about any man or women that are finally able to embrace their gender/sexual identity and live authentic lives are the ones that protest the loudest. As a gay male – who hasn’t really officially ‘come out’ explain why this process is a process that many in the LGBT community need to allow to happen naturally:
First, here is the reason that people in the LGBT community must ‘come out’……(using my own personal experience, which is very similar for so many people)….I have always known that I was attracted to men, it wasn’t confusing – I was attracted to men. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “I think I’ll begin an emotional and physical attraction to men today” – that just doesn’t happen.
There are many reasons that I didn’t decide to share my feelings in regards to being attracted to men, the most pressing was societies lack of acceptance towards people in same-sex relationships due to their religious beliefs. Many so-called “religious people” who identify as Christian and God-fearing, justify their hate through their interpretation of the Bible. They impose their religious ideologies and outright condemn homosexuals due to those religious ideologies and beliefs. What if you don’t buy into those religious ideologies? How do you justify not accepting a group of individuals as equal to everyone else? Sounds very similar to what many black activists demanded during the civil rights movement, doesn’t it?
I heard the many negative stories of people being kicked out of their homes and being disowned by family and friends after coming out. I saw the harassment and bullying that many ‘out’ kids received in school. Many were verbally, emotionally and physically assaulted – not only by their peers but by the school officials. I wasn’t even out and was called, “faggot”, “queer”, “pussy”, “fairy” and so many other names that reinforced the lack of acceptance of people who were attracted to the same-sex. This mistreatment wasn’t only experienced in public places – it was present in the home. My uncle was gay – he has since passed but I remember that my mother loved him very much but no-one talked about his lifestyle. It was kept secret and was a taboo topic of discussion because he was gay. If family frowned and looked negatively upon my uncle’s homosexual identity – why would I make the decision to come out and open myself to further emotional turmoil?
There came a period in my life where I wanted nothing more than to find a partner and finally be free of living a double life. But I knew that if that day came, my life would be an open book.
I had many internal struggles and luckily found a community of people I could be myself with. Many people like me – outcasts, freaks of nature, sexual deviants and predators as we were commonly referred to by those making the judgements. I finally realized that my sexual identity didn’t define me and that I just happened to be a man who had attractions to other men. There was nothing wrong with me. On a warm night in Toronto’s gay community – I walked and pondered how my friends and family would react when I finally ‘came out’? As I pondered this – a van squealed by and I heard several guys calling out to me; “hey faggot, wanna suck some cock”, “come and get it fairy” and eventually “die, faggot” I had never been a victim of gay-bashing but I certainly came close that night – one of the guys in the van threw a beer bottle in my direction – missing me by inches, they then sped off. This incident enraged me. I was physically attacked because of where I was and for who I was even though these bullies didn’t know I was gay.
I was lucky – I finally made the decision to come out but only to myself. I had to address and remove all the internal homophobia I had within. I learned to love myself and I learned to deal with all the anger within me. I met some wonderful people who looked death in the face but decided not to look at the world with hate and anger. These people showed me that we had to stand strong and that we should not be treated as sexual predators or deviants. We were brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, sons and daughters. They showed me that we were teachers, policemen and women, doctors, lawyers, government employees, bank tellers, janitors or scientists – we were like everyone else.
I came out alright – but, I came out for the person it meant the most to – ME! My ‘coming out’ wasn’t for anyone else. It wasn’t for my father, mother, brothers, sisters or friends – if they didn’t accept me, I wasn’t going to take on their ignorance. In ‘coming out’ – I made a decision that my life was going to be better for it. Coming out would allow me to live authentically and positively. So many of us in the LGBT community, want and need to be accepted by friends and family but, I learned that the only person that mattered in this process was me. Coming out didn’t change the person I was. I was the same Rob and this realization allowed me to see the ignorance in other people.
The worst thing I hear from people now is – “I respect and love you but I don’t accept your lifestyle choice, it’s wrong” – I don’t accept that. If you love and respect me as I love and respect you – there are no stipulations to that love and respect. Imagine if I turned to a friend and said, “I love and respect you but your heterosexuality disgusts me.” It sounds just as ridiculous as, “I love and respect you but I don’t accept your lifestyle choice, it’s wrong.”
Lifestyle choice….these words suggest that I made the choice to become gay. That being said – if I can make the choice to be gay – then everyone can. So, to all of you God-fearing people out there who are quick to reference the Bible on homosexuality, I dare you to make the same choice I did and become gay.
We must thank those people who hold no judgements on others because of the colour of their skin, their gender, sexual identity, nationality or any other attributes that make them unique and different. We must embrace individual diversities and allow people to live authentically so that we can all have a safe, inclusive and positive environment.
Together, we can make the world a more positive one!