Today, I think, is Coming Out Day, and the Outer Alliance have asked people to write about their coming out stories. I remember being dragged to a discussion group once which was discussing the fact that in terms of mainstream literature, quite often gay people only seem to exist in terms of coming out, and the emphasis that is put on that as a single action.
I can't speak for everyone, or indeed anyone other than me, but for me coming out has never been cut and dried. Being twelve and confessing to friends and my mother that I might be attracted to girls (and being told that it was a phase) went on for about four years, until I was finally comfortable enough to just be open about my sexual orientation in a way that made me feel I didn't still need to come out, although in certain circumstances I still did. Then, a while later, I started my first serious relationship, which happened to be with a man, and had to negotiate a strange sort of re-coming out, or trying to reinforce my queerness while acknowledging this relationship. And later still various other comings out, as bisexual-queer, as polyamorous which would be irrelevant were it not included in this coming out again as attracted to and having relationships with women
I will probably always have some people to whom I have to come out as queer, and that frustrates me. There are some ways I will probably never come out fully, for example I can't imagine coming out as polyamorous in certain circumstances. And the response has switched slowly from "is it just a phase" to "do you really want to put that label on yourself", and most of the time I do, because of the echoes I have of being sixteen and at summer camp and able to be myself, able to make jokes about my take on the world.
And I am aware I'm privileged. I am aware of all the areas in which I can come out, in which I am safe and unthreatening, in which I am in environments which are at worst unwelcoming, but not threatening, and that possibly my comings out don't matter.
And finally, I should use this day to say something, about my current coming out, and exploration of gender, and I have come over just as coy as I always do in these matters. I am starting to identify as genderqueer, and to present as male some of the time, and realise that I don't really think of myself as female, although I don't have a problem with female presentation, I just don't want it to be the only option. And I don't know whether I think of myself as male either, I just know that throughout my teens I thought of myself as a courtly lover, and still kind of do (which brings it's own bundle of problems with gender roles and sexism) And telling you this is probably self indulgent, and unimportant, but I thought I should. Because coming out is always about being allowed to show an aspect of yourself, to be more yourself, and it is mostly coming out about identifying as me, not a woman or girl or even courtly lover.