In hindsight, I was wrong about a lot of things. For one, I was wrong about what it means to be queer. Years after coming out, some part of me isn’t entirely sure where I fit into the LGBT community. I know there’s not one kind of gay person… but I sometimes catch myself wondering if I’m faking it, just because I don’t fit the mould. The mould doesn’t even exist, but I’m still trying to unravel my own misconceptions…
Growing up in the country with conservative parents, I didn’t have much access to influences outside my sphere. Between having little internet access and not knowing anyone who wasn’t straight… I had a lot of ideas about where my life would go, and I was wrong about nearly all of them in the best possible way.
I always thought I would have to come out, once, and then everyone would just know forever. I thought that the question was, “do I come out?” and the answer is either yes or no… when really it’s a case of, “how much do I want this person to know about me?” This runs through my mind for every new person I get on well with.
I always thought if I ever wanted to talk to other non-straight people, I’d need to go to parties, whether I liked parties or not. But being queer can also mean playing Dungeons & Dragons with like-minded souls, or high tea with friends; maybe it’s sharing memes, or marches, and a smiling nod to the person with the LGBT-themed pins on their jacket.
I never thought that we would be….everywhere. I didn’t know there would be people like me at my job. Working at my favourite cafe. On the bus, after spotting one of the pins on my bags. Dating one of my straight friends. Behind me in a line to see a superhero movie (“well Wonder Woman is canonically bi, like me”). My sister. My in-laws. My school friend, coming out to me years after we were students.
I really thought I’d have to hide forever. I thought if I didn’t embrace exactly one stereotype I wasn’t a valid queer person. Of course I was wrong! Nowadays, one of my main reasons for being ‘out’ is that I want a send a message to those still closeted: “it’s ok, it’s not just you.”
Broadly, everyone faces pressure to be “something,” and though it’s different for everyone, I think the LGBT community cop it a lot harder. I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself to be queer “the right way,” without knowing what that even meant, but there’s no right way.