I’m Queer But Also My Life is Pretty Easy
Every year, National Coming Out Day comes around, and every year, I hesitate to use the term “coming out.” The phrase feels like it should be reserved those who have legitimately had it rough, which I have not, by any stretch of the imagination.
When I first started announcing my queerness to people, a part of me was, of course, afraid of rejection or ostracization. But a bigger part of me was already relishing the surprised reactions I assumed were inevitable. “WHAT?” people would scream. “YOU?! NO WAY. I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT.” Then I’d get to be the Bigger Man — even though I could have responded with righteous indignation, I’d play it cool. “You know, queerness is on the inside,” I’d say sagely. “So true,” the world would murmur.
These people’s entire perceptions of sexuality would be changed. They’d know they could never truly thank me, but still they’d try. “Please” they’d beg, “accept this Chipotle gift card as a small token of my appreciation.” Before I came along, they never knew that queer people ate at Chipotle.
But we do. We eat there all the time.
But I never got a big reaction or a Chipotle gift card. I never even got a gift card to a crappy off brand competitor, even though I would have been glad to give my business to Mike’s Discount Burritos. Instead, I mostly received supportive smiles and looks that said “…so, is that all, or…?”
I think I know why I’ve had the good fortune of receiving these nonplussed reactions. As queerness goes, I’m not very threatening to the status quo. For one thing, I date women and men. This means I’m roughly 50% less threatening to patriarchy than a woman who only dates women. For another thing, I live in Los Angeles, and no one in my social circles cares who I date, unless it’s someone who can get them a writing job. For yet another thing, I am — in a general sense — conventionally attractive. I’m relatively young, relatively thin, and most importantly, I’m white. That means that, by sheer luck, society at large has decided that it’s not grossed out by the image of me sleeping with another woman — just another way that the charming combination of white privilege and male gaze have wormed their ways into our lives. We’re all familiar with the image of the sexy young white bisexual woman. It’s perpetuated in many ways, and all of them are American Pie sequels. Such sequels are less kind to queer people of other orientations, races, genders, and body types.
To make my struggle even less of a thing, I didn’t even want to date women until my early 20s. My life would have been a much better movie if I’d had a childhood in which I asked my quirky neighbors if I was different, and dreamed up crazy yet charming schemes to escape my small town life. Instead, I basically woke up one day and realized that my brain had been nagging me to date women. I wrestled with the idea for a while, and eventually, I started dating women. And also kept dating men. Now I’m in a longterm relationship with a man. And that pretty much brings us up to speed.
I’m very lucky to have received virtually no negative response from anyone I’ve told. Responses have run the gamut from “good for you!” to “this is not as significant as your email’s subject line, ‘A MATTER OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE,’ implied.”
Maybe I didn’t give people enough credit, or maybe my short hair and constant screaming about the patriarchy gave me away long ago. In any case, I’m lucky that my coming out story has been pleasantly uneventful. Many others cannot say the same.
For all these reasons, I don’t feel like I fit the narrative of someone who gets to come out. But I like to participate in National Coming Out Day because I’m one of the lucky people who can afford to to trade a little vulnerability for visibility. I have the privilege of doing so because I know it won’t compromise my job, my friendships, or my home life. I’m lucky to be able to say, “Here I am, world [Facebook friends from whom my status is not hidden]! Maybe we can all realize that we know more non-straight people than we realized, and that LGBT issues are a little closer to home than we knew.”
In other words, I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m lucky that no one cares.