Queer 101: Coming Out

Happy National Coming Out Day! Coming out is something that every queer-identifying individual must face at some point in their lives. It’s nerve-wracking, freeing, terrifying, and it takes an enormous amount of courage to do. Today, we have stories from various Kenyon students about their experiences with coming out.

“Because I’m kind of “girly” (i.e: pretty much everything I own is pink and I dressed up as Tinkerbell last Halloween), I often run into the problem of people assuming I’m straight. That’s why the phrase “Actually, I’m Gay” became my best friend when I started coming out this past summer. Maybe one day I’ll change my aesthetic, but for now, I’m gonna stick to the frilly dresses. I like them a lot, and (as we all know) nobody should have to change what they like if they don’t want to” – Caitlyn March ’19

“For quite a while I had decided that I wouldn’t come out until I was in a serious relationship, until I had something at stake, something to prove to my family that this wasn’t a phase, something to validate the disapproval I worried I might face. Several things made me realize this plan wasn’t right for me.
First off, serious relationships – and queer relationships at that – are difficult to find at Kenyon. Second, I gained a new-found confidence in myself, and my identities, that I had not had prior to Kenyon. Through the support from loving friends and groups such as Qdubs and Unity, I really developed this sense of feeling complete within the queer community at Kenyon. This support helped me embrace and love my identity as a queer woman. The support also made it difficult for me to face the isolation I felt when I went home over break. I was hiding parts of myself from my family, parts of myself that I really loved, and it made me feel fragmented whenever I was home. So I set a date for when I would come out (Thanksgiving break) and I started rehearsing what I would say. Even though I hadn’t done it yet, just making the decision that I would was so liberating, I felt like I couldn’t wait to tell my family.
And I didn’t. On an early Saturday morning I was talking on the phone with my mom, and early in the conversation I started debating whether or not I should tell her over the phone. I knew it didn’t fit the script of having a face-to-face conversation, but I decided I didn’t really care about the formality. My mom was telling me about how her new boyfriend went to Dallas Pride and had such a wonderful time, and she expressed that she was happy that he was open-minded. That statement was all the validation I needed in the moment. I remembered my rehearsed script and began, “Mom, I have really happy and exciting news I want to share with you!” And I was happy and excited to finally tell her. The news was met with acceptance and love from my mom and my siblings, something I am so grateful for as I know it is not everyone’s experience. I didn’t come out the way I had planned or imagined, but the opportunity presented itself and I embraced it. I would definitely recommend doing what feels right to you and not worrying too much about the social scripts of how to come out.”
– Anonymous
“When I came out to my parents by emailing them, my mother’s response was something along the lines of “You do you, we’ll love you no matter what.” My father sent me an email back the next day. His email was something akin to a 5 paragraph essay about his experiences with other boys at summer camps as a child, his sexual exploits as a horny college student, and his experiences later in life as an attractive single man. I think that since I had shared sensitive information with him, he wanted to return the favor so that I would feel more at ease, which is very sweet. However, thinking about my dad in a “menage a trois…. or sometimes quatre” was, and still is, a bit frightening.” – Anonymous
“I came out to my parents on National Coming Out Day in 2013. I had known for a while that I wanted to tell them, and the idea that there was a day where somebody else in the world could be doing the exact same thing as me made me sure that it was going to be then. So I sat my parents down with my sister (who had already known for a while) and started telling them. I could feel myself start crying as I explained that I was queer, and my parents got really quiet. I didn’t expect them to say “we knew” or “we’re so glad” or anything along those lines. They’re not that kind of parents. They asked a few questions, some of which I had really hoped not to hear (such as, “how can you be sure?”) but mostly I think they were trying to process how a queer kid came out of the avid churchgoing and catholic schooling that I had been subjected to my whole childhood. At least they didn’t yell at me or fight me about it. They were just quiet. So I got up, still kind of crying,  and went upstairs to my room, the most awkward and uncomfortable conversation of my life over. I think they’re still processing my coming out two years later, and they’re still learning, but it was a good thing for me. After telling them I sobbed in my room for a few minutes and listened to Aftermath by Adam Lambert (incredible song), but after that I felt better than I had in a while. It’s still a process and it’s still unfortunate to hear them say offensive things they don’t mean, but we’re all learning, slowly but surely. It’s weird because coming out isn’t really a one and done sort of thing, It lasts a long time, and it might never really end. But that’s okay. I might struggle with my parents about my sexuality for the rest of our lives, but I know who I am, and that’s what’s important to me.”
– Annie Devine ’18
 Queer Resources 
Unity House
Contact Peter Wear ’16: wearp@kenyon.edu
Athletes for Equality

2 responses

  1. Pingback: 10 o’clock list: 5 Ways to Come Out (If You Want!/If You Can!) | The Thrill

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