Tag Archive: courage

Out of Africa

There are a few reasons that I feel I need to write a serious blog post to you today.  First, I am leaving for Kenya in just shy of 3 weeks, and I am absolutely terrified and beyond excited.  Second, while I’m gone, this blog will go inactive, unless someone is there to care for it.  So three, I am scoping out caretakers for the site until I return.

This isn’t a big obligation, but if you ever felt like blogging about sex, sexuality, or the like, this is your shot.  I’ll be gone for four months and internet is spotty in Kenya, so I probably won’t have time to upload any content.  If you want to put something here, just email me at bonkiep@gmail.com or comment on this thread (or facebook me, if you must), and I’ll get it up there.  Your help will be greatly appreciated.

As for the actual post, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about homophobia on the international stage.  While I am in no position whatsoever to try and sum up what the nearly 200 countries in this world have integrated legally and socially into their codes against LGBT people, I can offer a few handy links to give you an idea.

The best source I’ve found to-date about the legal discrimination placed against LGBT people is this pamphlet issued by the International Lesbian and Gay Association called “State Sponsored Homophobia.” It goes state-by-state, listing all the applicable sodomy and obscenity clauses in national documents which apply to gay people.  The problem, of course, is that the document does not even begin to touch on the traumas, trials, and tribulations of transfolk in foreign countries, which is often an even more torturous road to travel.  As I’ve written before in my article on Queer Literature abroad, the story of Randa the Trans illustrates how even in the relatively progressive state of Lebanon, there are incredible hurdles for transpeople to clime in living the life they want, and if so desired, changing their body to fit that life.

As a queer person who is about to travel abroad, this reality terrifies me.  Queer activists in many countries, especially Russia, the Middle East, and Africa, are harassed, beaten, and stalked for their affiliations and beliefs.  They are murdered as examples to the LGBT community.  They are beacons towards a world of tolerance often swallowed up by the waves.

I am a person who despises injustice in all its forms and idolizes the people who fight for equality by putting their lives and futures on the line.  Yet, as a foreigner, I find myself worrying about my own personal safety.  What if I slip up and mention my girlfriend?  What happens if I attend a meeting for LGBT people in Nairobi?  Will there be angry mobs outside my door?  Will I be watched?  Vilified?  For me, perhaps this is an over-reaction- I am insignificant on the bustling streets of the city.  But am I really?  I’m a mwanza, a white person, sticking out like a sore thumb.  A white person in a black country means something, even when it means nothing.  People pay attention.  I do not honestly know how safe I am.

Now imagine that being your entire life.  Imagine always wondering who is watching you, who is checking the people you let into your apartment at night, who is noting where you go for drinks in the evening, who you dance with.  It’s an ugly, unnerving feeling, to be unsure who is out there and what their intentions are.

For the starkest picture, compound this constant alertness with the fear that strikes every woman at some point in her life: rape.  In many countries, most notably South Africa, civilian vigilantes still use “reparative rape” as a means of “converting” LGBT people back to normalcy.  And rape itself is not an unusual problem.  This article from BBC highlights the threat of gang rape in public latrines in Nairobi slums.  These are all issues staring me in the face during my study abroad.  The focus of the program isn’t ecology or African literature- it’s sustainable development.  That means addressing the structural problems of HIV/AIDS, rape, discrimination against women and LGBT people, the devastation wrought by poorly-run government programs and the slow decay of urban slums.  All problems are linked.  One cannot isolate one issue from another.

I can’t offer a solution to any of this yet, but perhaps after some field work, I’ll be able to report back with some perspective.  I don’t know where this journey will lead me to, but I know where it starts.  When I began my studies in International Relations, I thought there was no room for LGBT and sexuality studies in Africa, that other problems came first: water, access to medical care, etc.  But everything is interconnected, and I see now that the hardest and most obscure battle to be fought may be the one that needs the most help.  In closing, let me remind you to be thankful for your freedoms, but also never to compromise.  Always push for true acceptance, for real equality.  The battle is to be fought everywhere.

((side note: the bill to get rid of DADT just passed the house.  If it gets through the senate before the end of the year, President Obama will sign it and the discriminatory policy will be no more!))


I wanted to wait a little while to post about the rash of gay suicides because of all the media attention that was suddenly focused on them that obscured so many of the details in their stories.  So now that it’s “over” and most of the world has forgotten about Tyler Clementi and Billy Lucas, I want to return to the real problem associated with gay bullying, and it has little to do with bullying at all.

I will admit that in a way, I used the gay suicides media blitz for my own benefit.  Capitalizing on the sudden outpouring of support that world gave to these teens, I submitted a proposal to my local high school aimed at creating a more tolerant and thoughtful student population through a 18 week Gender and Sexuality studies elective for juniors and seniors.  While the response was positive (my curriculum will be recommended the next time the Social Studies dept. undergoes curriculum review, probably in 2013), many people in the school’s administration cited ongoing anti-bullying campaigns as a way of helping promote tolerance of LGBT students.

This strikes me as slightly laughable.  Though my high school has one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying programs in the state, it didn’t stop my peers from tearing down GSA posters and putting up homophobic slogans in their place, nor stop them from complaining to the principle of “gay propaganda” during Gay History Month announcements.  Our anti-bullying program never once mentioned LGBT students as a population not to pick on, and so, it seems, they’ve been exempt from protection.

So many problems, including the suicides of these young boys in the past months, stem from this silence.  The Nation’s correspondent Richard Kim wrote an amazing piece about this phenomenon– how “gay bullying” isn’t a villain contained by the school yard, but one that’s fed by our insecurities in talking about LGBT issues.  And the response to these suicides shouldn’t be a push to punish the students who precipitated them by bullying, but to tackle the society-wide silence which allows them to bully.

“When faced with something so painful and complicated as gay teen suicide, it’s easier to go down the familiar path, to invoke the wrath of law and order, to create scapegoats out of child bullies who ape the denials and anxieties of adults, to blame it on technology or to pare down homophobia into a social menace called “anti-gay bullying” and then confine it to the borders of the schoolyard.”

Harry Potter Stands Up for Gay Rights, Won't You?

Harry Potter Stands Up for Gay Rights, Won't You?

As if I hadn’t said it enough, the problem is so easily solved by TALKING.  Gay intolerance seems like an insurmountable problem until you break it down into component parts.  Even if your child is bullied at school, told by the media that he/she/ze is inadequate or moral wrong, if you- just you, the parent- can reach out, say it’s OK, be a pillar of support at all times, then suddenly there’s a ray of  hope in the world for that child.  This is exactly the kind of issue where just one person can save a life.  If you are a student, reach out.  If you are a parent, reach out.  If you are a teacher, administrator, store clerk, employer, day-care worker, REACH OUT.

Gay teen suicides may come in rashes, but they don’t disappear.  If a child identifies as LGBT, they are 400% more likely to attempt suicide in their lifetime.  Even when the news isn’t covering it, it’s happening.  Don’t turn a blind eye.

Three’s Company

For one of my classes this week, we had to watch the movie, “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (And Your Mother Too), which is, among other things, a very overtly sexual coming-of-age story.  In one of the pivotal scenes (spoiler alert!), the two main characters- two male friends who talk about their exploits with girlfriends and lovers non-stop)- get really drunk on mescal and eventually have sex with each other.  There is a moment in that scene, when the woman they were both originally trying to seduce falls away from view and they truly catch sight of each other, that gets me at the core.  The next moment they are embracing, kissing, and falling onto the bed before the inevitable camera cutaway.  Watching this, I found myself once again confronted with a familiar feeling from my childhood of obsessive romantic-comedy watching.  Though I find nothing that inherently sexy about gay male sex, watching this scene, I’m smiling like a goofy little girl, content as can be.  I’ve fallen in love with the relationship of the actors.

Perhaps some of you have felt this also- where you look at a couple and are completely overcome with happiness or jealousy or some kind of intoxicating emotion.  Looking more closely, you realize that you don’t want to be either of the people in the couple- you want to be the couple. When speaking about this with Beth, we compared it to rooting for a couple that you know to be doomed, because they mean something more together than the individuals do by themselves- they are beautiful, lovable, etc. because they are together.

I found the most marvelous article in Nerve about a woman who has been in a lot of threesomes which actually speaks to this idea.

“I came to realize I was more attracted to couples than I was to individuals. I might not remember some of these people at all had I hooked up with them one-on-one. But as a pair, I would fall in love with their familiarity; their affection for each other got me off. The most recent couple I fell for, James and Noël, were rock stars, straight up. They were reckless drunks, bursting with manic energy as bright and chaotic as their tattooed sleeves. After five minutes with them, it was clear: they were it for each other — and I was smitten. I found myself flirting shamelessly with both of them, slyly working to command their collective attention and approval.”

I find this equation for intimacy to be at once incredibly beautiful and intriguing.  I’ve never been in a threesome, nor have I had the opportunity presented to me, nor had I (until recently) even thought seriously about the idea, as I simply assumed that feelings would inevitably complicate things.  However, this article, and the sentiment of falling in love with couples, makes me hopeful.  I have always felt bizarrely attached to couplings I witness- in movies and tv shows, in real life, in books, and so forth- to the point where I feel that I almost love their relationship.  Somehow, within the context of this paradigm, such feelings seem more normal- and more explorable.

For most of society, the primary opposition to threesomes comes from the debasement of intimacy that they supposedly cause. Because sex is “made for two people,” the introduction of a third simply demeans the closeness of the interaction.  Now I don’t hold  it against anyone who does believe this, but I find two things troubling about that format for me:  first is the presupposition that all sex must be for love, which I honestly believe it does not.  This isn’t anti-romantic, simply practical.  As a sexual being, one can have sex without committing to the full spectrum of emotion that a long-term, committed relationship demands.  Second, however opposite, is the assumption that threesomes cannot be intimate.  For this, I’d like anyone who agrees to read this lovely article on intimacy by Greta Christina.  All of the things she talks about- listening to your partner(s), being engaged and attentive, being selfless and selfish simulteously, giving yourself over to the moment- can all happen in the context of a relationship, or a one-night stand, or a threesome in any form.  It simply takes the right people and the right situation.

In one sense, I value monogamy and dedication to another person.  Yet in another, I am equally devoted to the love I feel between those outside of myself and my relationship.  I find it beautiful, electrifying.  I have no idea what this means in practice, nor if or how I would carry it out, but I like the concept all the same.

While for personal reasons, I generally try to avoid writing about my girlfriend on this blog, I felt it was appropriate (though no particular event spawned it), to include a little bit about her life and why I value her so much as a person.

The other day, I was participating in a panel on LGBT issues for a group of 7th and 8th graders at the Unitarian Universalist Church nearby, and I was struck by how removed I’d become from the coming out process.  One of my fellow panel members had yet to come out, and she was talking to the students about her fears and hopes about telling her parents eventually.  I was very happy and nervous for her, yet her whole explanation seemed so far away from my present situation.

I dealt with few of the anxieties that plague many LGBT teens when coming out.  My parents and I have a very good relationship with open lines of communication, I have a religion which openly accepts my orientation, and so on.  I like to say I lived the gay fairytale.

This, of course, brings me back to my beautiful girlfriend.  Beth has not had the easy ride I had in coming out.  While I remained closeted for a little under 4 months, she felt unable (and to an extent, found it unnecessary) to come out until she reached graduate school.  Her family came from a very religious background which was not terribly supportive of LGBT people and the subject was rarely broached in family conversation.  While she assures that she never feared being ostracized by her  family, she worried nonetheless that it would drastically change the dynamic in her household.

Yet in the course of the past few months, she’s faced all of this- coming out to her parents and the rest of her family…for me.  To me, this takes baffling courage.  I recognize it as the kind of courage that happens every day though, and it makes me incredibly proud and full of awe.  Every day, people facing the same challenges as Beth are forging on into the unknown towards a more open and honest life- sometimes for their loved ones, sometimes for themselves, but always in the pursuit of something more authentic for their lives.

It has been my privilege to watch Beth’s story unfold from the very beginning.  It has been my joy to hear every development- every family member who has extended their blessing, every acknowledgment of her worth as a daughter, a cousin, a friend, regardless of her sexual orientation.  And I can’t help but feel honored for it.  That somehow, at the core of all of this, I fit in.  I can find some relevance in the shifting paradigm of her world.

Beth, ever modest and understated, claims that her coming out isn’t really a big deal.  And yet, I’m having Thanksgiving with her family- something I never thought I’d get to do.  Another small speck of permanence enters our lives, and her coming out has made it possible.  Perhaps it hasn’t changed everything, but her courage and her poise throughout this process does mean something.  It feels like a ripple of hope for everyone out there who might think they have the odds stacked against them, who might be scared or ashamed to come out.

Somewhere inside, we all have the strength and courage to do what Beth has done.  And for that, I am grateful and excited for the future.

To close, I’m including a quick article, called “There Were No Closets in My House.” Suzzane Forbes gives us all an idea of what a world may look like when coming out (which can take many forms, not exclusively related to LGBT issues) is no longer necessary, where closets fail to appear in childhood.  Though I don’t plan on children, I could only wish such an upbringing for future generations.

Gen Silent

How often do you think about the sacrifices your grandparents generation made for you?  About their courage and commitment to WWII?  To the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s?  To the very first White House protests for gay rights by the Mattachine Society?

Probably not very much.  Frankly, we take a lot of the historical contributions of our past generations for granted, however much holidays like Veterans Day try to remind us to be thankful.  So that makes it all the more disturbing that more and more senior citizens, especially in nursing homes and assisted-care facilities, are being forced back into the closet after a lifetime of bravery and service to our country and ideals.

It probably comes as no surprise that your grandparents’ generation wasn’t the most open and progressive regarding LGBT people.  The anger, hate, and outright discrimination that they faced makes it all the more honorable for those who were brave enough to come out in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50s’.   Now, the same generation of people that oppressed them when they were younger is hurting them again.  In addition, the health care system is stilling denying rights to these individuals- to see, live with, and care for their partners, to get health care benefits and end-of-life care, and a million other essential rights for someone seeing the twilight of their life.

A short video promo here will give you a better idea of the problem:  http://carnalnation.com/content/58496/5/growing-epidemic-lgbt-seniors-going-back-closet?utm_source=CarnalNation&utm_campaign=bc8d57034b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email

I find it eternally shameful.

Female Genital Mutilation

For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, FGM (or Female Genital Mutilation, also known as female circumcision) will probably cause your stomach to turn over.  It is a common practice in many African countries, where the skin of a young girl’s clitoris and/or surrounding tissue of the vulva is cut, sliced, and sometimes even completely removed, then the edges of the vagina are actually sewn shut.

This practice occurs upon a young girl reaching adulthood and is rooted in the cultural values of many native societies as a way to ensure that a girl is “clean” and virginal upon marriage.  It is also considered to increase the pleasure of sex for her future husband, while simultaneously removing it for the girl herself.

Now there are A LOT of problems with FGM that would take hours to go into, but primary among them are the medical and hygienic issues that the procedure causes.  Since most FGMs are done in the home of the girl being cut, they are highly unsanitary- those who perform the cutting use dirty razors or sometimes even crude instruments like tin can lids, which can lead to serious infection and shock or death from blood loss.  FGMs are almost never done with anesthesia (as the process is outlawed in most countries, but performed ritualistically by families regardless) and many girls do not know exactly how the process is carried out, leading to immense psychological and emotional trauma, as well as physical.

It only gets worse after that- build-up of blood which sometimes cannot escape during a girl’s period can cause toxic shock syndrome, infertility, and death.  According to an article by the Guardian about the practice, “In Sudan, 20%-25% of female infertility has been linked to FGM complications.”

And this is not exclusively an “African problem.”  The same article by the Guardian chronicles the struggles of English girls with family abroad, who are taken home during the 6 week summer vacation to be cut.  For these girls, the trauma is even worse, as they are generally only told that they will be going on holiday or to visit an aunt, and the procedure is then forced on them.  I would HIGHLY suggest you read the article in full and if you can stomach it, the video, because I can’t detail it all.

What I’d like to focus on, in addition to the medical horror of the FGM practice, is the problems it causes for women who are developing their sexual identity. Because FGMs destroys all feeling in a woman’s genitals and can cause problems internally as well, it renders “cut” women almost completely incapable of sexual pleasure. One study among Egyptian women found 50% of women who had undergone FGM “endured” rather than enjoyed sex, and even among women will some ability to feel arousal and pleasure through vaginal sex, the psychological and emotional scars of a cutting makes intimacy even harder.  For girls as young as age 5, their first “sexual” experience was probably their cutting, where several of their close family members held them down and took a razor to the most sacred part of their bodies.  You simply do not recover from that.  Allowing another person to touch you where your family members have so abused your body takes an amount of trust I cannot even fathom.

For women who suffer the most extreme form of mutilation (having the vagina completely sewed shut), cutting renders them incapable of deciding their own sexual future.  Even if they are married or are in a committed relationship, the sutures which bind together the sides of the vagina have to be torn apart each time she wants to have sex (which is of course, not for her to decide, generally- but for her husband).  Afterwards, in many cases, the vagina is sewn up again, completely robbing a woman of her sexual agency.  After all, she can’t very well decide for herself when and how often she wants to have sex, if the act must be preempted by a medical procedure.  In addition, if she has surgery done to remove the sutures, or god forbid, reform part of the labia in a healthy manner, she may be tossed out by her husband, alienated by her community, or looked upon as “unclean.”

A wonderful nonprofit in Kenya called Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization (which translates to “Women’s Development Organization”), as well as other groups like Human Rights Watch and  United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) are trying to combat this terrible practice.  Maendeleo ya Wanawake offers a ceremonial “cutting with words” process, which they urge traditional families to use instead of a physical FGM for their daughters.  One of the women in the Guardian’s featured video recommended a gynecological exam in the airport for children being taken between the UK and countries which practice FGM to enforce the ban in both countries.  While this would probably constitute a HUGE violation of privacy, it could also spare the devastation of an FGM for millions of young girls and women.

For me, this is one of the most crucial issues which can be addressed in a developing country, not only because of the emotional and physical damage done to women who undergo FGMs, but also as a means of promoting gender equity in general.  Women who are connected and in control of their own bodies, who can assert themselves as beings both sexually and professionally equal to men will move underdeveloped areas strongly in the right direction.  Self-assured women are resourceful, creative, hard workers, who, when given agency and control over their own lives (the choice to work or have children, to do both, to marry or to stay single, to have sex when and with who they want), will thrive.  But agency starts at this first, very physical performance of societal norms.  A young woman who has the power to say “no” or who had parents who dared to say “no” to FGM, will move forward with her life with the self assurance that this powerful decision has given her.

When I was given the power to chose whether or not I wanted to get a tetanus shot, I felt more respect for my body, because I was given control over what went into it.  In the same way, women who can chose against an FGM will gain immense respect for their bodies and for the power they hold as individuals.  A woman who refuses FGM will go on to spread the spirit of refusal, and create social change.  The societal pressures to perform FGMs is HUGE, so it is in the spirit of groups like Maendeleo ya Wanawake that I salute those who help women to end this brutal practice.  How will you help?

Focus on the Family

Every parent wants to raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child.  But sadly, finding out that their son or daughter is gay is rarely “part of the plan.”  When a teen comes out, their parents are generally taken by surprise, no matter how obvious it may have seemed.  They may feel overwhelmed or confused, asking , “How can a child that we have raised become something so alien to us?”  Accepting an LGBT identity dramatically changes the interaction between child and parent- suddenly, the child is the teacher, the one who has come to an understanding of a deep and complex idea without any prior knowledge from the parent.  And the parent is suddenly the student, trying to understand the new needs of their child.  Sadly, there are still households where coming out as LGBT is not acceptable religiously or morally, and worse yet, there are parents who are simply unwilling to learn about LGBT people and accept the role of student to their child.  This switching of roles does not, however, ALWAYS shatter a family dynamic.  In fact, in many ways, I feel that my coming out has brought my family closer.  And there are ways to make coming out and subsequent interactions easier and more beneficial for all family members.

Initially when I came out, my mother was worried, and with good reason.  The world was, and still is, often a hostile place for LGBT people.  I had a lot of Catholic friends whom she (and I) worried would reject me.  Although she accepted my orientation (and has a generally positive view of LGBT people in general), she urged me to stay closeted and never brought the subject up again.  At my request, she told my father, whose reaction was similar, but perhaps even more worried about the societal problems I would face become of sexuality.  Although I was initially relieved that my parents hadn’t been angry or upset, I knew in my heart that complacent acceptance was not what I was looking for from my parents.  I wanted them to better understand my sexuality- beyond just “Bianca likes girls and boys.”  They still clung the hope that I would “fall on the straight side of the equation” when I found a permanent partner.

So this is where my deep and abiding love of dialogue comes from: a lot of long, painful, sometimes tearful car rideswith my father, desperately trying to explain why I wouldn’t “grow out of being bi” and why his hopes for my marrying a man were hurtful, even though he only wanted the easiest life for me (one without the societal pressures of a lesbian relationship).  I can’t say we’re in a perfect place regarding that, but after 10+ months with my most amazing and supportive girlfriend, he is beginning to see that a relationship with a woman can be equally healthy and wonderful.  We’ve had several exchanges, but the most touching of which was an email I received telling me how happy he was to see me enjoying my time with Beth.

My parents have come a long way- my mum reads this blog as often as she can, which makes me infinitely happy, and my dad has reached out to Beth and her family in every way he is able to show his support.  Point being, there’s room for everyone, even the most accepting of parents, to learn more about you and your sexuality, if you’re willing to put yourself out there.

On the other side of the spectrum, though, I know many teens that are still closeted at home because of their family’s strong religious beliefs or simple blatant prejudice.  I don’t have much in the way of advice for you, sadly.  At the end of the day, you have to decide if sharing your true self with your parents and family members is worth the hurt and anger you may encounter.  I truly believe that any parent worth the air they breathe would still love their LGBT child, even if they are hurt, angry, confused, or conflicted.  But I have been proven wrong on this point.  And that’s a horrible reality to know.  For those of you living in situations where you fear the backlash of your family, from the deepest part of my heart, I apologize for your pain.  I invite you to search out people and organizations in your area who can help support you in your struggle.  It isn’t a fair one, but it need not be one you face alone.

PFLAG, as I have mentioned before, has chapters across the country and is the best support group I know for LGBT teens who need the love and acceptance of their parents’ generation- they can be a family in their own respect.

There are a lot of local organizations as well- Pittsburgh has a Gay and Lesbian Community Center on Grant Street and they hold youth nights every Friday night.  DC has everything from a Gay Jewish Shabbat service (Bet Mishpachah) to a Brazilian GLBT group.  ((The magazine Metro Weekly has an AMAZING listing of all the groups in DC))  And there are places like this in every city.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you.

I have always believed that family is who you let closest to you.   My girlfriend, my best friend George, my crazy neighbor Sarah, my 11th grade high school English teacher- these people are my family, even though they don’t share my blood.  They are there to support me, to listen to me, to share in my pain and my triumphs.  They are also the people who have accepted me unconditionally for the person I am and have embraced my sexuality as a part of my integral whole.  I hope that each and every one of you finds as good a family.

Coming Out Every Day

I think one of the most interesting misconceptions of the gay community has to do with “coming out.” In a lot of literature, it seems like coming out is a singular event, it-happens-once-and-then-you’re-out-for-good kind of deal, which any out LGBT person can tell you is completely untrue.

Coming out is a constant, ongoing process which takes a lot of care, trust, and good judgment.  It’s about deciding who needs to know, who you want to know, who has the right to know, and how soon to tell them.  It’s about how much of your true self you are willing to put forth at any given time.

I think of coming out as one of the most unique experiences our modern

culture offers: in a way, all people “come out” with small aspects of their personality- the classic football player’s love for baking or the business man who cross-dresses on weekends.  Just like these modern archetypes, LGBT people all keep an aspect of their life quiet for a period of time; they hide a chunk of their essence because of fear, misunderstanding, or insecurity.  But, unlike the baking football player, coming out as LGBT exists on a whole other emotional playing field, because the confession is no longer one of practice, but one integral to the person’s being.

If necessary, a football player can stop making cookies on Saturday night- he may be sad to leave his favorite hobby, but he can choose to do so if he feels that it is bringing upon him too much criticism or mockery.  An LGBT person, on the other hand, can never abdicate that part of themselves.  He/she/ze will always be gay and that cannot change.  A gay person can suppress that part of themselves- like transgender people wearing cis-gendered (aka- aligned with their birth sex) clothing so not to draw attention to their true gender identity- but they can never completely eradicate the feelings that make up that identity.

Which is why coming out is so difficult EVERY SINGLE TIME.  A gay person does not simply say “Hey world, I’m gay,”

and then never need to express it again.  They will always be telling new people about their partner, about their gender or their preferred pronouns, or their sexuality.  Coming out never stops.  And it is incredibly hard.

Being LGBT forces you to read people immediately and accurately so that you know how much of the truth you can give out.  It forces you to constantly measure yourself and your personal feelings against other people’s prejudices and values.  And occasionally, it means coming out in spite of them, putting yourself in the path of hatred or rejection, in


order to change someone’s point of view.

I can’t tell you how to come out and I can’t tell you who to tell first.  I can’t tell you when to do it for the first time, but I can tell you that there is no such thing as the last time.  You will always be coming out, always shaping and influencing with your disclosures and your trust.  And for that, the only thing I can say is thank you.  Thank you for your courage and conviction, for your belief in yourself and the purity of who you love.  Thank you for being ok with yourself and for slowly but surely teaching the rest of the world to be ok with it too.

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