In a time where everything is very unstable and uncertain, so was my “struggle” with my sexuality. I quote the word struggle because internally, I never questioned or felt guilty about who I was attracted to, both physically and romantically. From the time I began to consider dating people, I always knew that I was not straight, but really wanted to date people for how they made me felt, regardless of their gender or gender identity.
While for me it was never a secret, I never fully came out to my parents. I navigated my sexual life on an ask basis. If someone asked me about my sexual orienation, then I would answer truthfully. However, when it came to people assuming that I was only into men, I never went out of my way to correct them. I never knew if it was because I didn’t feel like explaining myself or because I was scared about what people would think.
While I start to really navigate these feelings, I think about the question of how my parents would feel about my sexuality, and I find myself responding with some variation of “I don’t know, but if it was a bad reaction I wouldn’t care because I don’t owe anything to them about this stuff.” But as I thought about it more, I think about the idea of “coming out” and the privilege I have to come out (or not).
While I personally don’t think there needs to be a moment in which I need to sit my parents down and come out to them, because I didn’t have to tell them that I liked men, however, I feel like there is slight ignorance in having such a non-attitude about these things. I have peers and friends who weren’t afforded the same safe space to treat their sexual orientation with the same attitude.
True Colors United is a foundation that works to find solutions to help LGBTQ youth experiences in youth homelessness. According to statistics on their website, LGBTQ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth. This is most often due to family conflict involving their sexual orientation or gender identity. While it’s not the only reason, rejection from family is a common and frequently cited reason for a LGBTQ youth’s homelessness.
So, while I may personally feel that coming out should not be an issue for those we love and hope to love in the future, the reality is that it is an issue. We cannot change the attitudes of those before us, but we can control our own actions as young people. Begin taking small steps by normalizing asking people their pronouns, because even if it “seems” obvious, it’s not. When inquiring about romantic interests, refrain from asking about any boyfriends or girlfriends, and perhaps ask if they are seeing anybody or if they have a partner. If we become inclusive proactively, we can work towards a future where we don’t have to handle situations like these reactively.