Coming Out Stories

The scene: post-conference, sat in an airport, one dark winter's morning. I'm casually chatting to one of the other speakers about our mutual hate of being sat in an airport this early. His phone rings and he excuses himself to answer it.

My German is pretty rusty, but good enough to understand "...Yes, I am at the airport... Yes, I'll make the flight... I have my passport... Do you want any duty free? OK... I love you."

I smile at him - I know that call.

"Ach!" he says to me, "My husband is always worried that I won't make my flight. I always have to tell him it'll be ok."

"My wife's much the same," I say. And we bond for a few minutes like old married men kvetching about how much we're loved by our partners.

"Been married long?" I ask. Mostly so we don't have to continue yesterday's talk about JavaScript frameworks. In return, I get a pleasingly rambling story about modern dating apps and introducing your parents to a one-night stand.

And, then it strikes me. This dude... is married to a dude! He's one of those gays I hear about so often in the media!!! OMG!!!!! And he's just casually dropped that bombshell!!!!!

When I was a teenager - and even at university - coming out was A. Big. Deal. It was emotionally fraught, with promises not to tell anyone else, the heavy burden of a secret, a tentative moment of fragility.

And now... Look, I know the world isn't perfect - and LGBT+ rights need to be fought for and defended - but at times it feels so much better than it ever did.

I'm proud to wear an rainbow lanyard at work. I want my friends and colleagues to know that there's no room for queerphobia in the workplace.

I'm not going to say "some of my best friends are gay" (although they are). And I'm not going to pretend that coming out every day is easy. And there's always a steady drip of bad news about somewhere in the world trying to roll back rights.

But I've lost count of the times a casual acquaintance or colleague has mentioned their same-sex partner, or their Facebook status has suddenly indicated that their "flatmate" is more than just a friend, or that they have a preferred pronoun.

Maybe I have a trustworthy face. Maybe the people who come out to me are festooned with privilege and don't fear a backlash. Maybe as I get older, the people I interact with are more mature.

Maybe it's terrifying every single time and I'm just cluelessly oblivious?

Anyway. Here's to all my friends and co-workers and acquaintances and people I've just met at a party - and anyone reading this - who has thought I was worthy of sharing with:

4 thoughts on “Coming Out Stories

  1. says:

    It's not terrifying after the first few years, but you always know when you are doing it, and you always do an internal safety eval, small or extensive.

  2. Isabel Holdsworth says:

    Aren't we past the rainbow-wearing stage now? Haven't we all fought for gay rights and won? I got so much grief from some family members when I attended my first Pride, but these days I don't think they'd bat an eyelid. Can't we move on to something else now, like first world poverty or disability? I feel as though LGBTQ... people are part of the framework of our society now, and continuing to talk about it only serves to make them stand out rather than blend in. Let's just leave gay people alone to live their lives and let's fight to eliminate food banks.
    BTW I love your blog, but I'm one of those awful people who only comment when there's something to moan about 🙂

  3. says:

    What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Looking forward to those days when gay people won't feel the need to do a safety Eval inside before talking freely to the rest of the world. That day, the world will be a better place.

  4. It's definitely easier these days, at least in that most people I interact with are at work or in the non-profit space, both of which I know would have my back if I had a problem.

    Yet I still have a small part of me that isn't entirely sure that my employers would live up to their words if I had to call out a client for homophobia. Which is ridiculous; we literally just made a groundbreaking ad for trans representation and I've been there nearly 12 years, a respected part of the furniture, as it were. But it doesn't stop me worrying.

    But the thing that most strikes me these days is quite how much better representation is — at least for cis white gay men like me. I still get surprised by how much better a world we live in now than when I was a closeted queer teenager on Dartmoor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *