Coming Out: A Timeline
Alright, y’all gay-ass (and other queer-adjacent terminology-ass) motherfuckers: it’s Pride month, and that means I’ve got to squeeze in some LGBT content amongst my searingly incisive deep-dives into how shit Gotham is. I mean, I already have, just a little, but there’s always room for more.
For me, and for everyone else I know who’s had to do it, coming to terms with and coming out with your non-straight, non-cis-ness is usually a long, drawn-out, painful, exciting, scary, affirming dream-nightmare of a process. So I thought I’d give you a little poke around
my own self-serving fascination with storifying my own history to indignantly boring effect everything that led to me coming out! I’ve covered some of my experiences previously here, but this time I just want to get stuck in to all the weird little details that turned me into the unstraight I am today. Let’s get to it!
Phase One: I go to see the Phantom Menace in the cinema as a young child, the first movie I ever actually remember seeing on the big screen. Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala is in it. As soon as the VHS comes out and I get my hands on it, I get up early on weekends to rewind the parts with her in them, though I’m not sure why.
Phase Two: I spend most of my primary school years hanging out with boys, telling myself that I just happen to like the same things as them.
Including girls. I develop my very first crush on a girl and manage to paper over it inside my own head by convincing myself I just like her hair.
Phase Three: Captain Jack Harkness turns up in Doctor Who for the first time. He’s into men and women. Hmm. No-one told me that was an option before.
Phase Four: Heading into high school, the hormones have Officially Arrived, and I’m just politely trying to ignore them and focus my attention on one of the dozens of boy-crushes I was to have throughout my teenage years.
Part Five: I write in my diary (that I kept because it made me feel like a Jacqueline Wilson character) that I think I “might” like girls. I underline might four times, just to be sure. I’m quietly hoping someone will snoop inside and find out, because I don’t know how to talk about this. I go through this phase where all I’ll wear are shirts, waistcoats, and a battered trilby. This is irrelevant to coming out, but I’d just like to apologize to everyone who had to deal with me during this time, because I looked like a tit.
Phase Six: The summer I’m fourteen, I fall hopelessly in love with a woman passing through my small town for a few weeks. She’s feminine and sweet and kind to me, and one time she smiles at me as she’s leaving and I think I’m going to die on the spot. Oh f*ck, I think, because I’m still too polite to swear inside my own head.
Phase Seven: Later that year, I say it out loud to someone for the first time, in a history class. I instantly worry that I’ve made the whole thing up, despite mounting evidence to contrary. I kind of want to have made the whole thing up, actually. If coming out once took me this long, how much longer is it going to take me to do it properly? Better to just pretend none of this is happening.
Phase Eight: I have my very first kiss, with a girl, in a loft at a sleepover party. Maybe it’s not better to pretend none of this is happening, after all.
Phase Nine: I start drip-feeding what I believe are subtle hints at my sexuality to the people around me, to see how they’ll react. They basically all immediately guess what is going on, and I begin to fear my skills at double-crossery are less refined than I believed. But it’s also a relief, since none of them seem to care one way or another.
Phase Ten: I date a man. I panic about being one of those bisexual women, who claims queerness while looking straight. I decide it’s best to just ignore it for a while.
Phase Eleven: No longer dating a man, I go to university. I gossip with lesbians in bathrooms and kiss girls who taste of rum and coke in bars. It’s hard to remember a time when I thought that ignoring this was the best thing for me. Removed from my hometown, and the person I was there, I cut my hair short and clomp about in giant boots, marvelling at how obvious this all is to me now that I’ve accepted it.
Phase Twelve: I start talking about it on the internet, tentatively at first. I find other people who feel the same way as me, share the shame experiences, and it feels like sinking into a comfortable couch at the end of a long day.
Phase Thirteen: I start writing lesbian erotica for a living. I tell my family about it. This counts as coming out, right? Close enough. I’ll take it. None of them seem to care, which is about the best reaction I could have asked for. Most of them seemed to have figured it out a long time ago. I seriously begin to consider the possibility that I’ve been wearing a Pride flag as a cape this whole time without noticing, since everyone else seems to have figured it out before me.
And that about brings us to now – I still struggle with aspects of my sexuality a lot of the time, but I also have an amazing support system of fellow unstraights around me who I can share crushes and worries and everything else with. Wherever you are along your coming-out journey, I really hope you can find a place within it that makes you happy, whatever that looks like. If you’d like to read more of my writing on sexuality, take a gander at the links below!
Greey, Lying, or Slutty: Straight-Passing and Bi-Erasure
(header image via MickeyBlog.com)