National Coming Out Day, in this economy?! cw: queer identity, death
I’m becoming more cynical the older I get.
I’ve written before on wanting to love Pride month and why that’s difficult for me — in short, Pride seems to have become a platform for allies to be louder than those of us in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Pride has become less of a rallying cry for me, and more an epitaph, a month of remembrance. So many of us are gone who should still be here.
This might just mean that I’m not a Baby Queer 1I think a Baby Queer is someone that’s excited about being queer and doesn’t know that the floor is lava and the stove will burn you, and graduating from Baby Queer means you, unfortunately, know now that the floor is lava and have likely been burned by the stove. any more, or maybe it’s because I’m suspicious and mistrustful. In today’s world, with the cultural backlash against trans people specifically, it feels unsafe to be visibly queer.
It has always been unsafe to come out. I think that a lot of us that have come out did so because of a combination of the urgent life-affirming need to be our true self, and bravery in the face of both real and potential violence. For those of us who risk it, the price we pay for visibility is lower than the price of not being truly known, and so we string together little moments of hope into a rickety bridge over a chasm that’s so deep you can’t see all the bodies that are already down there.
I want to be done coming out, but I think I need to continue to do so, not just on this yearly National Coming Out Day, but every day. I think that coming out can be as small as pronouns in a Twitter bio, as big as being extremely gay in front of thousands of fans, or as quiet as being my favorite children’s book author Arnold Lobel when I was a child (and I still love his books; Frog and Toad, Owl at Home, they are beautifully nostalgic for me). I think coming out is important when you’re able to do it, if only for the sake of other queer people so that they know who can be their chosen family when their families of origin give up and leave.
Despite my bio parents making sure they taught me that queerness was sinful and disgraceful, I never really believed it. Despite the crushes I have had / still have on many different genders of people over my life so far, I didn’t think that I was queer until six or seven years ago.
Coming out is a journey. Originally I came out as bisexual. Then I decided that pansexual was a better descriptor for me and I came out as pansexual. Then at some point I realized that I was gender non-conforming, and I refer to myself as genderqueer. Then alongside a low-dose testosterone regimen combined with an epiphany about my queerness, I realized that I’m part of the trans community and I have been this whole time. I’m not any binary of any kind; my gender is myself, which doesn’t — for me — need a word or phrase to describe it. It’s enough that I know that it’s my truth.
In the middle of evolving identities, I had many other coming-out moments; asking my chosen family to use new pronouns for me (and being abandoned by most of my blood family because of pronouns, which is honestly probably one of the most ridiculous reasons to pretend someone doesn’t exist for you any more); telling my kids about my new pronouns; choosing a new name that described to myself who I understand myself to be; telling my kids about my new name; navigating the constant experience of being misgendered and deadnamed 2A deadname is a person’s original legal name, usually given to them at birth, along with cultural assumptions about gender based on which genitals are present; it’s so gross and rude to use someone’s deadname when you know better, that most of us wouldn’t even deadname people we don’t get along with. Being misgendered is often the result of gender assumption based on how you look, or an assumption based on medical paperwork, or an act of disrespect. almost any time I need to interact with anyone that isn’t my chosen family, doctor, or therapist; cutting and shaving my hair into an extremely queer hairstyle; wearing clothes that could mark me as obviously queer to a stranger — my rainbow kilt, my flannel shirts, my suspenders, my sleeveless jacket (I had no idea how queer it would look when I first put it on). I dye my hair turquoise. I have a pretty big tattoo on my right arm. I have facial piercings and gauged ears. Even if I don’t look queer, at least I look weird.
Does any of this make sense?
I don’t want to keep coming out all the time, and sometimes I just avoid it by not interacting with people who don’t know me. Sometimes I avoid it because I’ve already used up my gender-advocate spoons for the day and I can’t manage another conversation that’s just me correcting someone about my pronouns or asking to be called by my name instead of what’s on my driver’s license.
Coming out is tiring and I wish that we lived in a world where it wasn’t necessary to be so specific about our identity in order not to be harmed in simple conversations.
But we don’t, so here it is: I am a genderqueer trans person with question marks where ‘romantic / sexual attraction’ goes, I haven’t finished changing my name legally yet because I’m terrified, I detest dating apps, and I’m queer. QUEER. Rainbow queer. Screamingly, frog-lovingly, flannel-owningly queer.
“For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”Frodo, as Mount Doom erupts around them, from Return of the King
Hi. I’m Nix. It’s nice to show up and meet you here.
- 1I think a Baby Queer is someone that’s excited about being queer and doesn’t know that the floor is lava and the stove will burn you, and graduating from Baby Queer means you, unfortunately, know now that the floor is lava and have likely been burned by the stove.
- 2A deadname is a person’s original legal name, usually given to them at birth, along with cultural assumptions about gender based on which genitals are present; it’s so gross and rude to use someone’s deadname when you know better, that most of us wouldn’t even deadname people we don’t get along with. Being misgendered is often the result of gender assumption based on how you look, or an assumption based on medical paperwork, or an act of disrespect.