Tag Archives: coming out

Pride Month: The Need for the Coming Out Story

In the past I have made my thoughts and opinions of the coming out story very clear; they are not particularly my favorite story to read/watch/listen. I even wrote an essay on my issue with the coming out story and how I feel it is an overused plot for lgbt+ fiction and how the genre needs to move away from that plot so that lgbt+ characters can be treated as something beyond coming out as gay.

Today though I want to say something different; although I still have the same feelings concerning the coming out plot in lgbt+ fiction, I want to talk about how the coming out plot is important to readers of lgbt+ books as members of the lgbt+ community or as a loved one of someone who is lgbt+.

It Happens to Everyone in the Community

Coming out as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, or Queer (if I missed a form of sexuality I’m sorry, things just keep on getting added and I don’t keep myself as updated as much as I use to) is something that every member of the LGBTQA has the opportunity to go through.

The story is different for each person; coming out can have negative consequences; I’ve read and heard stories of teenagers being thrown out of their homes or disowned by their families because they’re not straight. In some worst case scenarios it has lead to said person taking their own life. It’s a scary realistic fear every person who’s not straight (I don’t feel like typing LGBTQA right now) has in their mind.

In the past based on what I’ve been told by older friends, the option was never to come out to family members. Just live their romantic/sexual lives in secret and in a sense catfish your loved ones into thinking you just haven’t found the ‘right member of the opposite sex’. Although this solution seems like the easiest one, it’s not the right one. It’s not good to hide and lie to your loved ones, even if the end result wouldn’t be a happy one, it’s better that they know the truth. Atleast it’s better than them finding out via accidentally catching you watching gay porn.

Not all coming out stories end in hurt, some families and friends are happy and supportive of those who come out. If the coming out story, both in reality and the media, has done anything for everyone, it’s given us a form of normality. It has taken the dreaded confession of what a person is and weakened the possible reaction of hate. It has helped turn hatred towards someone for not being straight into understanding, support, and joy. Or atleast reduce the amount of homeless gay teens (hopefully).

It’s a Coming of Age Story

The coming of age story is a story where the protagonist goes from youth to adulthood. I’m not saying coming out as gay makes you a responsible adult ready to take on life, but things do change and your world is shifted.

What better plot to a coming of age story than to have your protagonist come out as gay? It could be the central plot to a story where the protagonist spends most of the book wondering what will happen once they come out as gay and suffering anxiety because of it. Or coming out can work as a macguffin where it simply serves the purpose to get the plot going and your protagonist doing things.

At the end of the story the protagonist will have changed, hopefully for the better (unless the author is Orson Scott Card). The protagonist can either have a very nice happily ever after, or a very vague unknown open ended outcome.

It Can Give Courage, Discussion, and Understanding

The first time I learned of the concept of being gay I was eight. I didn’t think it was a big deal, just a little off. Then puberty hit me; I hoped and prayed that it was just a weird phase I was going through. I thought that being weirded out by two men kissing a little was enough to prove I was straight to myself and supported my hope that I was going through a weird phase.

There wasn’t much LGBTQA media aimed towards teenagers (that I knew of) in the early 2000’s to 2008 so I didn’t have access to coming out stories until I was more or less an adult. I did have the internet through, access to Japanese manga, and an older friend who took the time to listen to me.

These stories that vary from worst, best, and okay reactions to coming out as LGBTQA. They can give someone who is going through what I and others went/are going through courage to talk to their parents, family, and friends and discuss what is going on with them in their life, and these discussions even lead to weeding out who’s a real friend and who’s a fakeass bitch. I can’t guarantee to every person reading or watching a coming out story that things will have a ‘Kurt Hummel being embraced by his dad’ reaction, but it can always, hopefully, open the door for discussion and the ability to face the fear of the unknown.

Bisexuality is Real, Don’t be an Asshole About It

Many people say that bisexuality is someone who doesn’t want to come out as gay or something for people who just like to sleep around with both genders. Don’t be one of those assholes please. Be supportive of your friend or loved one who knows that they do love both genders.

Part of My Own Story

There are two versions of my coming out story; the one for school and the one for home. The one for school was the shitty one; shortly afterward being outed I was harassed by a classmate for two and a half years (I think he dropped out of college and has a kid now. I gave him the wrong answers to a final exam so he didn’t graduate on time).

Coming out at school was done because Melissa Richardson outed me. Melissa Richardson is a fake ass cunt who loves the band Bowling for Soup. I will say thank you to her for allowing genuinely kind and loving people into my life who were nice to me during my time of being shunned by my peers. I hope whatever version of Christianity you’ve made up for yourself this year is to your liking. The mantra of “this shit is over after May 2008” played in my mind until I got my diploma from highschool, hugged my dearest friends (I’m sad to say I lost touch with all of them), and left those who wronged me to the rest of their lives.

Coming out at home started with my cat because you have to practice with someone who can’t judge you too harshly. Eventually though the first human family member I admitted this to was my brother. I don’t remember why but I was feeling okay that particular friday night. I asked my brother something, he replied with a asshole remark, I brushed it off as whatever. I was eventually called back into the room and he hugged me telling me I was loved. I don’t know if it’s because two years of being a youth leader at our church gave him good observation skills about me not being at my happiest, or if somehow my low key status at school (look there were over 1000 students my graduating year, even with what I provided above I did go through four years being very low on the social radar) had somehow gotten to him.

He was very understanding, I think it’s because he was taking both psychology and sociology at the time. He did warn me that our parents were suspicious of my sexuality and to not come out by accident. That it would be better to come out in person.

The December of that year I told my dad I was gay; it was a scary morning for me, and the biggest relief in my life. I was still loved by my dad, I wasn’t thrown out, I wasn’t told it was a phase in life, I suspect he may have secretly prayed to God to make me straight or send ‘the right girl’ for me, or that this was a sign I was supposed to join the priesthood (I don’t understand why older catholics are trying to get so many people to become priests. Fuck that shit). Over time I’m sure he accepted it.

My mother found out via literary gay porn (yes my porn is in ebook format, no it’s not Fifty Shades, I can do better than that). It ended as well as it sounds.

Your Story Will be Different

I’m aware my story was more or less a walk in the park compared to others. While I did have a shitty time at school, my home life was more or less the same. To the teenager reading this little blog right now who is scared not knowing what they are, please take time to sort things out mentally and talk to a school counselor or someone you really trust about your struggle. You will know when you are ready (also for the love of everything sacred do not let porn of all things out you).

To the teenager who is aware they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual, or queer, I can’t guarantee things won’t be happy when you come out. Every situation is different, I have no end all perfect solution to this problem that doesn’t involve brain slugs or corgis. If you are planning to come out to your parents and fear being thrown out, please make precautions and make sure someone will be able to help you in a bad situation. There is also always hope that your parents or guardians will be understanding of the situation and totally accept you as is. And please, please, please do not consider suicide as an option should things go wrong. It’s not a solution. If you are feeling scared about your current situation please contact the National Suicide Prevention HotlineThey even have part of their website devoted to you.

To the Minority of LGBT+ that are Christian and unsure of if it is a sin, it’s not and Jesus loves you regardless of who you love, unconditionally. There are others like you that believe in God too, I’m one of them.

You Will Always be Coming Out

Something I’ve learned since coming out in the first place is that you are forever doomed to be coming out. While coming out to your family and friends is the main milestone in life, you will always end up coming out; it will either be to a homophobic person talking shit about gay people, it will be to new friends who haven’t realized you’re not straight, it will be to someone your friends set you up on a date with not realizing you’re not straight, it will be to whatever eventually replaces Facebook in the future of social media and you gotta answer what you are interested in for relationship purposes.

And finally you will come out to the person who matters the most to you, your future spouse. The one you want to love the most for the rest of your life.

My Problem With “Coming Out” Stories

I’ve said many times that I am not fond of coming out stories. They aren’t bad stories, and when I was younger I read a few of them and enjoyed them. I understand why lgbt youth would like these stories because it gives them something to relate to. Having a secret that must be kept out of fear of alienation from loved ones and peers is a big deal and can end with family and loved ones accepting you as you are, learning to love your difference, or downright throwing you out of the house.

Good Golly, This Shit Again?

It makes sense to me that whenever the main protagonist in mainstream media is gay that this is the primary conflict of the story since it allows readers/watchers who aren’t part of the lgbt community to get an idea of what it is like to be in the shoes of someone who isn’t straight.

However this brings the problem that I have mentioned and danced around in many blog posts/essays. It becomes a gimmick; while lgbt fiction and culture can still have a coming out part of a story, it wouldn’t take up the whole story or series. It would be one portion the protagonists life, then the protagonist will move on and do other things. In mainstream media outside of the lgbt category this is not the case.

An example I will use is the movie Gay Best Friend; I watched it on Netflix, thought it was hilarious, and I was pleased that the movie went deeper than what I expected out of a teen comedy. There was still the main conflict of coming out of the closet and how that action had waves of chain reactions because the main protagonist was accidentally and unwillingly outed as gay. Although the main protagonist does claim get over the fact his peers know he is gay, it is the primary source of conflict between him and those responsible for his outing towards the end of the second act and even after is only fully resolved at the end of the film.

The Proper Way to Handle a Coming out Story (your mileage may vary)

I feel this type of story works out better on tv rather than movies or books; my two main examples will be the shows Ugly Betty and Glee. On Ugly Betty there were quite a few lgbt characters on the show; Marc St.James, Justin Suarez, Alexis Mead (behold a trans character no one made a big deal about in the year 2006!), and a few more. At the time of it’s premier only Marc and his love interests could officially be slated as gay since it was still a taboo for someone as young as Justin’s character to be officially stated as gay so the topic of his sexuality was danced around, but never confirmed until season 4. My guess is since Justin was in highschool things became more fair game for the character.

At first Justin states he isn’t gay with Marc (he’s kind of his mentor and a close friend despite being much older than Justin) understanding Justin’s situation and being patient with Justin as he talked about his feelings towards both genders and his friendships with characters that are barely ever mentioned. When it was announced Ugly Betty was cancelled it was pretty obvious the writers decided to stop giving shits about people in the audience getting offended and had Justin make out with a boy. Bonus points for everyone in Justin’s family knowing the whole time and very excitedly willingly to throw him a coming out party (even Marc is happy to see the Suarez family is so loving of Justin and proud of him despite being pissed off with them more or less wanting Justin to confirm his sexuality).

With Glee, we had Kurt, goodness he is gayer than Christmas. He was sarcastic, wore clothes that ranged from cool to ‘wha’ regularly and had an easier time “coming out” on television thanks to Ugly Betty. While Glee did premier during the last season of Ugly Betty, the later show did lay some groundwork that would make things Glee did easier to do on tv (do you REALLY think Glee would/could have had Kurt and Blaine’s intense makeout session had Justin and Austin not had theirs one year before?)

I admit there were times I found Kurt very annoying primarily because at the start of the show he was more or less the gay stereotype that viewers are supposed to see and say “oh, they’re gay! I didn’t have to think about it.” His coming out to his dad in the first season was very touching though. With Kurt’s dad behaving very loving unconditionally towards his son from that point onward to the end of the series even sticking up for Kurt when Kurt was doing something inappropriate (not cool pushing yourself on Finn when he has politely stated he is not gay and not interested countless times, thank goodness that gets addressed too.)

Like in Gay Best Friend there are waves of side affects that result in Kurt coming out of the closet that lead to bullying, harassment, and other characters growing and developing complete with Kurt more or less ditching the gay stereotype he started out as by the end of the series.

There’s also the character Santana’s own coming out story that started out as a throwaway gag of her having sex with her best friend. Not much detail is given concerning how her parents react outside of “yeah, they’re cool with it,” but she was outed by accident and things more or less go ok for her outside of her grandmother having very strict religious beliefs that “girls belong with boys, not other girls”.

I’d like to make special mention to the ABC Family show Greek; I didn’t see much of it (I just didn’t care to watch it) but there was a gay character with no gay traits who did have a very well handled coming out arc and developed past coming out from that point on. Feel free to correct me on this internet.

Other Media

My reasoning for saying television is the best way to have a coming out story is because it allows the character to stay in main focus and have the coming out arc then move past said arc and grow as a character without said conflict being the whole purpose of the character.

While this is possible in books, I have read few mainstream books where the main protagonist is gay, comes out, and does something other than come out as gay. Movies are even harder because more than likely you only have ninety to a hundred and twenty minutes of story to go through and having the protagonist “come out” can take up more time than expected with the possibility that said action can become the main conflict of a movie.

I’ve reviewed the books The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren and Will Grayson Will Grayson and I was very happy with how it was handled. In Will Grayson Will Grayson ‘coming out’ as an arc is treated like taking off a bandaid, quick. It allowed Will to move beyond that conflict and for other conflicts to be explored concerning love and relationships in terms of romance, friendship, and agape.

As I said in my review of The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren after the main character is outed as gay and goes to sanctuary prep and neat shenanigans happen from that point on. Although I dreaded the coming out portion it was there as the main plot point to set the story in motion and yes echos are felt from the protagonist coming out as gay.

 

If You’re so Knowledgeable then Why Don’t YOU do a Coming Out Story?

I have said previously that the book I am working on right now will not have a coming out plot. In the process of writing this blog post I have realized that really is an asshole thing of me to say I won’t do a coming out story. No I won’t add a coming out part to the story I am working on, but that doesn’t mean I will never do a coming out story.

Maybe later on I will find a way for myself to write a story where coming out is just one event in a protagonist’s tale and move on past it with the character able to grow beyond that event.

Once again please look up and purchase The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren, it is a great story, I have met the author and have had fun facebook conversations with him.