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I Wish You A Very Uneventful National Coming Out Day

I Wish You A Very Uneventful National Coming Out Day

I Wish You A Very Uneventful National Coming Out Day

Coming out is never easy, but it's easier for some...

I came out last Thursday in a community college Spanish class. “I should really convince my girlfriend to learn Spanish with me,” I said to the (I assume) straight couple I’d been paired up with for a practice activity. They smiled and nodded politely before telling me to girar a la izquierda to get to la escuela.

Despite being raised in a suburb of Ohio where a dairy farm was located adjacent to my high school, coming out to my mother five years ago was similarly uneventful. “Do you have any fun weekend plans?” she asked over the phone during my freshman year of college.
“I have a date,” I told her. “We’re going to a student play, so it might be awful, but she’s really cool.”
“That sounds nice,” she said. “Tell me how it goes.”

My younger sister’s response to my brave revelation that I liked women, men, and all the people in between: “Oh, cool. That makes sense.”

My father: “Well, you know. Date who makes you happy.”

The worst reaction I’ve encountered was a slimy freshman boy who assumed that meant I was open to lots and lots of threesomes, and who was easily rebuffed.
I don’t know what it is to get kicked out of my home, to be beaten in the street for holding my girlfriend’s hand, or to be sent to a conversion camp, but I know enough queer and/or transgender women who have lived those experiences to know better than to preach the importance of coming out.

I understand that coming out can be a liberating experience. I understand that there’s power in numbers and visibility. But I do not understand why vulnerable members of our community are often expected to put their lives, jobs, or families on the line in order to give us those numbers and visibility.

I have come out too many times to count. There will be a thousand more metaphorical Spanish classes. I’m coming out again today, and the act of coming out does not feel inherently liberating. However, being able to do so online, to do so in a way that is so incredibly public, without any fear of losing my job, my home, my friends, or my family is incredibly liberating.
For cynical me, this day has always been about as important as changing your profile picture on Facebook to support the latest cause du jour. This year, I’ll use the day as reminder of how much work we still need to do until every coming out is as uneventful as mine. 

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Cassie Sheets