Why I Had To Come Out
What was going on that made me think I have to come out? To family. To friends. At work.
I think my story is a little more unconventional than others.
I Had No Language To Describe Myself
What I find really interesting when I look back (now remember this began 22 years ago) is that I didn’t feel the need to label myself, you know as gay. Well, lesbian was more widely used back then. From when I first kissed a girl, all the way up to now. I don’t like to label myself.
When I started seeing the girl that asked to kiss me (see How I Knew I Was Gay), I didn’t think ooooo hang on. What does that make me? I’m not with a boy like all my friends so what IS that? How would I describe myself?
Well, I didn’t. I didn’t find it necessary. I was just me.
Part of that is I didn’t know the language to describe myself. The terms gay, lesbian and sexuality – they weren’t in my consciousness.
Do I Really Need To Come Out?
I think because I didn’t use these labels to describe my sexuality, I didn’t feel the need to have this whole reveal party. I didn’t have this need to tell everyone. There was no build up inside of me, like I know a lot of people have. Other people didn’t use labels to describe my sexuality either, so it was never such a big deal in my head.
I think because it wasn’t such a big deal to me, I thought why should it be a big deal to anyone else. To be fair, I still think that!
How University Helped Me
At school, I don’t recall anyone being openly gay. Or maybe they were and I was closed off to that. I don’t remember anyone anyway. As I said in my last article, I was at school when Section 28 was in place. Heterosexual relationships. That is all I had ever seen and known.
And then I went to university. That opened up a whole new world.
My degree was in the arts – Theatre Design and Scenography. I was working with actors, dancers, musicians and fellow theatre designers.
When I look back EVERYONE was gay or experimenting at university and we socialised mainly in the local gay bars.
I found a safe space and community to explore more of who I was.
But even at university, I still wasn’t introduced to words like lesbian and gay.
I didn’t describe myself as gay. I didn’t tell people I was gay. I was just me. Doing what felt right. It’s who I was. And I didn’t need to put any of that into words.
Why I Had To Come Out
I guess you could look at all that and think, you weren’t sure of how to describe who you were and how you felt. Yes, that could be true. I didn’t have the awareness of the vocabulary, the labels that we use today. I was just following my heart. I also felt it wasn’t anyone else’s business. It didn’t matter to me, so why should it matter to anyone else. That was what I thought.
So what changed? Nothing really changed for me.
It was more about other people and their need to figure me out. To put me into a box.
I see it like this. You meet someone through work and you want to know what they do. Because instantly that tells you a lot about the person, right? You pigeon hole them and the work they do day to day based on that information. You can make sense of it in your head then. AND you can introduce them to other people easier.
I didn’t NEED to tell anyone that I was gay. I was perfectly happy as I was.
The trigger was that others wanted to figure me out, to label me. Initially it was my family, my friends and those at work.
Why did I have to come out? I didn’t feel the need to. It was all about other people.
It is safe to say that before I came out I felt light and easy going about who I was. And after I came out, I really struggled. Other people’s need to define me and label my sexuality meant I have experienced much judgement, criticism, harassment and bullying.
I’m going to talk about HOW I came out in another article. I’ll talk about coming out to family, friends and why I went BACK in the closet at work. That’s a whole other story…
I’d love to hear your story.
Why did you have to come out?
What were the circumstances around that?
Stay Tuned – The Coming Out Series
If you have any questions, if you want to know anything specific, leave me a comment and I will make sure I answer it over the coming weeks and months.
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About Gina Battye
Gina Battye is a world renowned LGBT+ & Authenticity Consultant and Advisor for TV, Film, Theatre, Radio, Global Press, Fortune 500s + Leading Global Organisations.
Find out more about Gina and her work at www.ginabattye.com/media and chat with her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.