Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Coming Out and Passing


One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start writing a blog.  The reasons were two-fold.  One, I want to improve my writing skills and find my own voice.  Two, I feel that as a feminist, academic, and leather boi, I have a unique voice to add to the discourse surrounding the GLBT community and my Leather community.  As with all of my writings, my opinions stem solely from my experiences and belong only to me, not to my club or even my family. 

The topic of this first writing is about coming out, one that seems appropriate for an initial post.  I hate the term “coming out” because it implies that you do it once, and then you are “out.”  In my experience, coming out is something I do every day, all the time.  Perhaps the term is meant to imply coming out as the first time you are honest with yourself about the fact that what you desire for your life is different than everyone else around you, but I have found that my sexuality and my desires are constantly changing and evolving, so even that process is not as static and singular as the term “coming out” implies.

When deciding to write this blog, I struggled for weeks on whether or not to share it on my facebook profile.  For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, you know that while I don’t write explicitly about my extracurricular activities and my non-heteronormative life choices, I also don’t hide them.  This blog, though, is going to be much blunter and more honest than my profile, and I am not out to all of the important people in my life, particularly my parents.

Coming out to one’s parents is often viewed as the quintessential moment of coming out.  Our parents tend to be some of the most important people in our lives (I know that they are for me), but they also are some of the most judgmental.  They view our life choices as a reflection on them, and so they take our perceived failures personally.  I believe that this is the reason coming out to our parents is the ultimate “coming out.”  My reasons for not coming out to my parents are many, but the biggest one is that my parents have made it clear that they do not want to know about my sex life.  My parents don’t even want to know that Andrew and I sleep in the same bed because we are not married.  Since my partner and I are able to pass (which I will talk more about in a second), it makes bringing up issues such as bisexuality, open relationships, and BDSM more difficult.  For most people, including my parents, heterosexual = heteronormative, and everything else belongs under that big umbrella of queer, or as my parents would probably say, “things I think are unnatural, wrong, and weird.” I believe that if I were to have a serious same sex partner that I would come out to my parents.  For now, however, it is kinder to my parents to pass.

I sometimes hate the fact that Andrew and I can pass so well.  I am aware of the millions of privileges we are privy to only because he happens to have been born with a penis and I, a vagina.   However, anyone who knows us knows that we are far from a heteronormative, heterosexual couple.  I identify as cis-gender, but as a boi, somewhat gender queer.  We are open, poly, and in a Daddy/boi relationship, so when people assume we are in a normal, heterosexual relationship, I feel very uncomfortable, almost like a liar.  Part of me wishes that I could just have a sign that says “queer, non-monogamous leather boi” that I could walk around with all of the time so that people wouldn’t continually be making false assumptions about me and my partner, specifically in terms of societal gender roles and expectations.

I also feel like passing gives me privilege that does not belong to me, privilege that I wish to the depths of my soul I could share with my brothers, with whom I feel a kinship and closeness that I have never felt with most “straight” people.  We can hold hands in public without fear; we can get married within the church where we worship.   I can take my partner to a family reunion and not have everyone in my conservative, Catholic family feeling uncomfortable.  I want these privileges for my brothers.  I want them so badly that it hurts, and every time I pass, I feel that I am somehow betraying them like Peter, when he said he was not one of the disciples.  I share my difference with my brothers, and I don’t want to hide from it.  I am queer, damn it, but having to come out constantly when, and in fact, because I pass so easily, is exhausting.

I will conclude with a very honest admission:  The number one reason that I come out to a person that I just met is most likely because I want to play with them or fuck them, and most people assume that because I am in a relationship, I am off limits.  And that is the most aggravating assumption of all.

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