I was recently asked via formspring whether I’d come out to my parents, and if so, how it went. The answer is both simple and complex*, but before I get to that, let me start at the beginning, with my philosophy of coming out in general.
In brief, I think coming out is a necessary evil. In not-so-brief, I think coming out is a tyrannical byproduct of a ruling-by-exception culture of sexuality. We need to reevaluate our blind acceptance of the necessity of sitting down to explain romantic gender preferences to friends/family/co-workers/entitled strangers. When was the last time you saw a straight person forced to submit to a battery of questions about his or her sex life by people who claim to love him or her?
The idea that I, as a queer person, owe an explanation of my sexual preferences to anyone (be that my parents, my coworkers or the “gay community”) is flawed. Yes, I understand that education is a key part of any social justice movement. Yes, I understand that people who bother to get to know awesome queer people like myself are statistically less likely to commit hate crimes and more likely to vote for aforementioned social justice. But I do not exist to serve as a “teachable moment” for straight people.
The awesome “this ain’t livin’” blog has much to say on the teaching role that disadvantaged groups are so often thrust into by well-meaning (or not-so-well-meaning) privileged people:
“There is a common expectation in social justice movements that people experiencing oppression should educate other people about their oppression; that, in fact, one the things they need to do, as activists, is to use themselves and their experiences as teachable moments. This even as people living in marginalised bodies protest that one of the key parts of activism is self education, and that, in fact, people who want to learn things should seek out that information on their own rather than demanding it.“
So while I get that every person who goes through the formal “coming out” process makes it easier for the next person, I still can’t find the motivation for making an example out of myself, particularly when doing so can be dangerous, both physically and otherwise.
*Stay tuned for the actual answer. And feel free to ask me more random questions via formspring, Twitter, email (adventuresinmediocrity at gmail dot com)or Facebook. I promise to answer them all, so long as they are not too creepy.