I always thought that the expression “coming out” was pretty hilarious. Coming out of what really? I don’t remember having been locked up anywhere, but maybe my memory is faulty.Only abnormal and strange things seem to come out from the closet if you ask me, just like Harry Potter and Shakira’s inner she-wolf once did.
The bottom line is that gays need to stop being treated like circus freaks. Everyone needs to stop going up to people asking them “Are you gay?” or whispering in their friend’s ear “Is he or she finally out?”
The harshest part about those questions is not the individuals’ concern or curiosity about your sexual orientation, it’s the big doe-eyed face they make when asking you. Honestly, every time someone asks me if I’m gay, I always wonder if there’s something stuck in my teeth that make people look at me in such a funny manor.
The problem is linked to the expressions we use in our everyday life. Coming out wouldn’t be so hard if it wasn’t so, well, official. Doing your “coming out” is frankly intimidating!
Consequently, I did some research and got tips from many other individuals to ease one’s coming out process.
My first realization is that many different variables come into play in an individual’s life that makes each coming out experience extremely personal. Therefore, it is impossible for me to offer you foolproof advice that will make your coming out pain free. I will try my best though!
I realized this after interviewing Xavier Tremblay*, a gay Concordia student currently studying sociology. “I am trying to get into politics, something like this [revealing his sexual orientation] wouldn’t help my chances quite yet,” said Tremblay.
For those reasons, Tremblay has only told a select group of friends that he liked men. His situation doesn’t get any easier, though. “My parents are very old Catholics,” said Pelletier. “Only one cousin knows [that I am gay] but she is a lesbian who was outcast by the family five years ago.”
There is no magical solution to help in cases like these, but two of Queer Concordia’s board members shared some helpful thoughts.
Andrew Figueiras’ parents weren’t too keen on homosexuality, but he still felt the need to tell them about his sexual orientation. “The reason I told my parents wasn’t so much to get it off of my chest, but more so because I wasn’t being myself,” said Figueiras. “I didn’t want to go on with them having another perception of me. I wanted them to accept me for me. There is no solution but be true to yourself and be honest.”
Barb Charalambides, another of Queer Concordia’s board members, suggested that weighing your living conditions in the balance might help out. “I had been living on my own for two years, so I wasn’t at the risk of being kicked out,” said Charalambides. “I had already established myself as an independent person. It depends on the personal situation and how emotionally strong you feel about dealing with it.”Queer Concordia is an on campus resource centre for queer, lesbian, gay, trans, two-spirited, bisexual, asexual, intersex, questioning, and allies. Might I add that they are extremely welcoming. Support systems just like Queer Concordia help deal with severe issues like homophobia.
Two types of homophobia exist: external homophobia is shared by the people surrounding you as opposed to internal homophobia which is hate that consumes your own thoughts (and consequently leading to hating yourself for being gay).
“Internal homophobia can lead to many psychological problems,” said Dr. Catherine St-Aubin, who teaches medicine and has studied homosexuality for her conference Homosexuality: From Pathologic to Normal. ”Shame, hostility, and self-hatred are all possible consequences.”
“What is even more worrisome is that homosexuals have between two and three times more chances of committing suicide than heterosexuals,” said St-Aubin.
Discrimination may be one motivating factor, but homosexuals may be at the source of it. “Coming to Montreal, I found that there was much more discrimination in the queer community,” said Charalambides. “I’m from the West coast of Canada and it’s a smaller community there so everyone is more interested in supporting each other.”
Everyone I have talked to seemed to agree that you should still be open about your sexual orientation with a select few people. It takes a major weight off of your shoulders and helps you deal with these harsh social issues.I’ll finish off by talking about a brilliant interview I had with a lesbian communications student who asked to be called Freja Kershaw for this article. “Nobody knows in my class that I am a lesbian,” said Kershaw. “I don’t introduce myself to people like that. If they figure out that I am gay, good for them. If not, it doesn’t matter.”
*Names were changed due to the personal nature of the article and to respect confidentiality.