The hardest and most exhausting statement I’ve had to repeat hundreds of times is “I’m gay.”
Since starting at USD this past fall, I’ve realized how much I’ve taken for granted that it’s been several years since I’ve had to come out of the closet. And over winter break, I was reminded of how envious I am of straight people.
During break, I discovered the trailer for the movie “Love, Simon.” At the end of the official trailer, it’s pointed out how unfair it is that only gay people have to come out. The trailer ended with several straight characters coming out to their parents.
In reality, what makes me laugh about these straight characters in “Love Simon” as they are “coming out” is that they, like straight people in real life, don’t have the same concerns or fears that I have or other LGBTQ+ people have.
The trailer fell short in revealing the inherent sense of fear that coming out has.
In fact, the FBI released data on Nov. 14, 2017, that anti-trans attacks alone have increased 43 percent between 2015 and 2016.
The FBI report also stated that between 2015 and 2016, there was a five percent increase in hate crimes.
This is in part why the student organization Spectrum stays pretty underground for their meetings.
Although several members of Spectrum are out of the closet around campus, others don’t feel comfortable sharing their sexual orientation or gender identity to the general student public.
Reasons for not coming out can vary. Yet, the main reason I have heard is the fear of accidentally being outed to family members during family weekend events. Spectrum members are also concerned about accidentally being outed via social media.
Spectrum protects members’ identities because some may depend on family members’ financial support to get through college. This support could even come in the form of a parent’s tax information to fill out FASFA and other financial information necessary for college.
Those who do make the brave choice to come out of the closet typically do so for a variety of reasons.
For me, I was sick of constantly telling lies as to why I wasn’t dating anyone. So after 16 years of coming out, I’m used to answering a wide variety of questions, such as the following.
“When/how did you know you were gay?”
“Who asks who out in a same-sex couple?”
“Is being gay a choice?”
And so on.
The main reason I continue to come out of the closet is so people who may not know a person in the LGBTQ+ community can ask me questions. It’s a good thing I’m friendly and open to those discussions.
And the reason why I do this is because I find it disheartening that in 2018, members of the LGBTQ+ community don’t feel safe enough to come out of the closet.