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On Coming Out … a Second Time

On Coming Out … a Second Time

On Coming Out … a Second Time

The first time coming out was terrifying, but the second time, it was just embarrassing.


For many of us, coming out to our family and friends was one of the most difficult experiences of our lives. After coming out, we thought the hard part was over. We thought we could breathe a little more easily. Yes, some people rejected us, and their words cut deep, but after coming out, we felt the proverbial weight lifted from our shoulders. We felt like we could be ourselves. We felt like we were about to write a new chapter in our lives.

There are, however, many of us who have to come out... again. This time, as something different.

For years, one my exes exclusively dated women. When she came out as a lesbian to her parents, it took some time for her parents to love and accept her. Eventually, they supported her, and grew to love her again. Then she met me, realized she’s actually bisexual, and is much more interested in men than women. Not only that, she's also learned that she identified as a trans man (who still went by she/her pronouns). When she dated women, because being a proud bull dyke, women treated her like a man. However, when she dated men, she very felt feminized and restricted by traditional gender norms. It took her some time to realize this, but in the end she did. So she had to come out to her parents...again. This time as a man who’s interested in other men. This was a new coming out experience that was completely different from her previous one, which was as a woman interested in other women.

Coming out again is not only limited to sexuality and gender. I had to (continue have to) come out as polyamorous. I have to explain to others that I have a boyfriend, who has a wife, and we all live together in our super progressive home in the hip part of Somerville, Massachusetts. While many of my close friends and family members were supportive when I came out as bisexual, coming out as poly was a whole ‘nother story. Given I’ve always been a proud, ethical slut, people thought this was just an excuse to date someone and continue sleeping around. I had to explain to them that my desire to be polyamorous isn't driven by sex. It's driven by my desire to explore my strong feelings of attraction to everyone. Additionally, many queer men have to come out again (and repeatedly) as HIV-positive to new partners. Same with BDSM folks with unusual kinks and fetishes.

So many of us in the LGBTQ community come out a second time. The second time we come out, it’s not the same as the first time we told our parents, “I’m gay.”

Many of us get embarrassed. We think to ourselves, “We made this whole big todo last time when we came out as ‘X’ and now we’re coming out as something else.” We think people are going to be less likely to believe us now, or are going to think we were initially “confused,” instead of realizing that our sexual identity is a journey—one that evolves over the course of our lifetime.

So coming out a second time is...different. For this reason, many of us simply don’t. I know a number of men who identify as gay, but who also have emotional and physical attractions to women. But they don’t explore their attractions to female partners, because they don’t want to come out as bisexual. It took them so long to come out as gay, and it was such a difficult process, that they don’t want to now have to come out as something else. They’re also now fully immersed in the gay community/scene, and they don’t want to be ostracized for dating a woman. So they date men, doing their best to ignore their attractions to women because as they say, “It’s not worth it.”

There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we view sexuality, gender, and all aspect of identity. Identities aren’t stagnant. They grow in ways that we can’t control. I think there’s fear in accepting this approach to identity because if sexual identity can change, then people might think that we can, in essence, “choose” to not be gay or bi. This could lead to an increase of harmful things, namely conversion camps (or as I like to call them “pray the gay away” camps). It may also perpetuate the idea that people who originally came out as “X” actually were confused, even though they weren’t. The last thing I would want is to increase skepticism when people come out, as opposed to acceptance.

It’s not true that we were confused. At the time we were one thing, and now we’ve changed. People change. But I think the important thing to note is that these changes are beyond our control. So forcing something upon us, like a conversion camp, won’t change our attractions. Not to mention the number of us who did have just coming out experience. Our sexual identity never does change. That’s fine too. At five you realized you were gay. You came out in middle school, and you’ve been super gay your whole life. That’s fabulous!

I think we, as members of the LGBTQ community, need to be more accepting of other queer folk when their identity changes. Often times, we take it as an insult. I know many lesbians who feel betrayed when a previously identified lesbian starts dating a man. But we’re not teams. It’s not "you’re with us or you’re against us." Only once members of the LGBTQ community start accepting the notion that identity can evolve, can we ask allies and cishet folk to accept our identity is a journey.

So on this National Coming Out Day, I encourage you to come out again (if it’s appropriate for you to do so.) Be open and proud about the fact that you’ve evolved as a person, and are exploring new things in your life.

Happy National Coming Out Day!!

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Zachary Zane

Zachary Zane is a writer, YouTube influencer, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and identity politics. Check out his YouTube channel here.

Zachary Zane is a writer, YouTube influencer, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and identity politics. Check out his YouTube channel here.