When someone is gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual, they are expected to come out to people. This is a form of an announcement that is expected from the LGBT community. We are expected to tell our parents, siblings, relatives, friends, colleagues and sometimes even a total stranger about our sexuality. Is this because a person wants to accept you as you are, or is it because they want to treat you different because you are not heterosexual?
I always felt the need to go around telling people that I am homosexual and this was because I wanted them to accept me, but what’s there to “accept”? Am I not human after all? Love me for being human and who I am sexually attracted to clearly doesn’t need any acceptance from you. The truth is that even after coming across homophobic individuals that never “accepted” homosexuality, I was still sexually attracted to men. This made me ask myself as to why should I do it.
Some people expect you to announce your sexuality so that they cannot say the wrong things. It is more like filtering out their homophobic words or actions to make you feel “comfortable”. A person might say “I wouldn’t want a gay child” until you mention that you are gay. That’s when you see them trying to backpaddle and attempt a lame cover-up by saying something like “A child is always a blessing, so if I had a gay child, I would still love him”. Now ask yourself about the potentially homophobic statement the person could’ve said if you hadn’t “come out”.
For how long must I feel unwelcome, misunderstood, misinterpreted, weird, socially unacceptable, imperfect and small before I announce my sexuality to people? There’s so much pretence after someone comes out to people. We need to understand the difference between living a lie and living for you. Living a lie is pretty much when you are living a life that is not yours. Living for you, on the other hand, is when you understand that you do not owe anybody an explanation. Not for your choices, your actions, your sexual preference or any other thing that is not actually their business, to begin with.
Coming out may be a choice, but why is it a choice given to any sexuality except heterosexuals? It is as if we are obliged to do so. It’s about time we understood that we owe nobody any explanation.
There’s a difference between “I am a homosexual man/woman” and being proud of it, to “I am a homosexual man/woman” then having to wait for their approval. There is really no need for me to announce my sexuality if the next person cannot announce theirs. I am proud of who I am, and I don’t need society’s approval for that. In the end, it’s a choice for someone to come out, but I question the reasoning behind it. It is almost as if you were not free up to then and you can only be so after announcing it.
Here’s something you need to ask yourself: Am I coming out for society’s sake? Or am I doing it for myself? Your answer will help you figure out a way forward. As for me? I live for myself. I do not want to be tolerated by society. Still, I would love to be respected and have society understand that I have human rights. Who I love and have a sexual attraction to? That’s my life.
I am not disputing coming out. If doing so makes you feel at ease, then do it. At the end of the day, life is about making choices that will make your life easier and happier. Just remember to do it for you and not for the next person.
If a person asks if I’m gay, I’ll definitely say yes, but I won’t go up to them to announce my sexuality.
These are the writer’s views, which may or may not reflect those of Engage Men’s Health and its affiliates. Engage Men’s Health offers free and confidential sexual health services to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM). Services include free HIV and other STI testing and treatment and free PrEP, which prevents HIV.
To book an appointment at EMH in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay or Buffalo City metros, WhatsApp message/call 082 607 1686.
To book an appointment at EMH in Pretoria, call 012 430 3272 or WhatsApp message/call 066 190 5812.