I don’t come out as gay to everyone I meet, and here’s why that’s okay

When I first realized I was gay, I had an unofficial list of people I knew I had to, or rather, wanted to come out to. My closest friends and my family were at the top of the list, all of whom are supportive, encouraging people who love me. Regardless of that, coming out seemed daunting, nerve-wracking, and to put it simply, scary.

I’d say that now, I’ve come out to 80% of the people on that list. I’m all about finding the right time to come out (especially if it’s to a close, long-time friend) rather than just slipping it into conversation in the midst of idle chitchat. With some people, that time hasn’t come yet, and that’s okay with me. I know I’ll tell them when I’m ready.

However, we all know that coming out is kind of a never-ending process. When you meet new people or start a new job or something, you have to come out all over again. And the thing is, there’s something about that that just does not fly with me. I know it’s been said time and time again, but straight people don’t any comparable thing to this — in every new social setting where we meet someone we haven’t met before, it’s like we’re expected to announce part of our identity, like we’re different. I’m proud to be gay and wouldn’t change it for anything, but I don’t believe I should have to come out so actively to anyone if I don’t want to.

There’s nothing wrong with coming out, in fact I believe it’s an important element of the LGBTQ community. Coming out means we LGBTQ people become more visible in society, which leads to more widespread acceptance, and more people working with us to get equality. So no, I’m not saying we shouldn’t come out, I’m simply saying I disagree with the emphasis placed on it. It’s just like any other part of who I am. I don’t announce my veganism in every social situation, yet if the other person takes the conversation there, I’ll happily discuss it — just as I would with my sexual orientation.

I believe that it takes a lot of courage to be openly gay and to be very out. I think it’s wonderful when people can reach a level of happiness, confidence, pride, and acceptance that enables them to do so. However, I also believe I should not HAVE to come out if I don’t feel the need to. In some social scenarios, I might feel uncomfortable being out, and that’s okay. In others, I can let my rainbow pride flag fly. At the end of the day, I think it’s a personal choice. It’s up to you how out you are. For me, I am out to the most important people in my life, but I don’t feel pressure to slowly tick every single person I know off the list of people I have to come out to. Yes, being gay is one part of who I am, but it’s just that: a part. It’s my private life to disclose, my life, and my journey.

Coming out is a very personal experience, one that, for many of us, continues forever. My advice to you is do things only as you feel ready to. If you don’t feel ready to come out, that’s okay. If you want to shout it from the rooftops, that’s okay, too. Don’t feel like you have to come out to everyone all at once. Some people are worth coming out to, others may not be. Accept yourself and be proud, but don’t ever feel forced to share this part of yourself, especially with people who make you feel unsafe. Above all, be proud of who you are, no matter how in the closet or proudly out you are.

Tallulah Cardno is a Hufflepuff-Slytherin hybrid and a writer from New Zealand. When she’s not writing, she’s watching Disney movies with her bearded dragon, quoting Gilmore-isms because it’s a second language to her, or having a blast working with the kids and teens she works with. She is passionate about reading, unicorns, YouTube, feminism, animals, education, human rights, dark chocolate, birthdays, and Harry Potter. You can find her at herblog or onTwitter.

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