EDITOR’S COLUMN: Why must we ‘come out?’

Dec. 5 will mark seven years since I first came out as gay. I say first because you’re never truly done coming out. It’s something I’m sure I’ve done thousands of times at this point.

In honor of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, I took a moment to reflect on how I have gotten to this place of self-acceptance after years of feeling different. While the lens did point inwards at some points, I came to realize something.

Why must we come out? The answer is simple. Society has determined a “default,” and anyone who doesn’t fit into that binary is automatically deemed different and must go through the motions of coming out. But I ask again, why? What direct effect does someone loving who they love have on anyone else?

I spent three long, confusing years trying to deny who I was by pushing it down inside of me because I was taught by the world that I must fit into its box. Not by any one person, group or entity, but it was cemented into me at such a young age from all around that it was expected that I end up in a “straight” relationship and act a certain way.

Graphic by: Sienna Par

A lack of representation further cemented this idea. There weren’t any shows that had a main character that was openly gay during primetime. It didn’t stop at TV either. Rarely was there a movie from a big-name studio with even a supporting role where I saw representation. While we may be slowly improving in the media, 2022 will mark the first time we’ll see a gay rom-com hit theaters.

The one caveat to that was social media and more importantly YouTube. These platforms allowed me to seek out people like myself and find a sense of community when I needed it most. It was incredibly validating to find a space where even a corner was just where I fit in and found my people.

I know that so many others aren’t so lucky to find their community. This is the problem. Not only should we be welcoming everyone with open arms, but we should foster an environment where everyone feels safe being out and proud.

I wish to one day live in a world where there isn’t quite such a thing as coming out, and instead people are just accepting of who we are and who we choose to spend our lives with. I know this is a long way off, and seemingly quite a big ask, but it would be not only life-changing but life-saving for so many people.

As we’re not there yet, I close with this. If you are in a position where you can safely be who you are, I hope you come out. Once you’re on the other side of that scary experience, it’s truly wonderful. Celebrate yourself loudly, and live as you are. If you still have roadblocks on your journey, that’s okay. I urge you to wait for your safety. I can’t stress enough that it’s worth the wait.