Coming Out Stories: The Road to Realisation
My coming out story is, for better or worse, one that I’m telling as I write it, not just this particular article, but probably through everything that I work through and articulate here on Queereka. My ‘queereka moment’, if you will, only happened a little more than eighteen months ago, and was only further clarified by a relationship that started soon after, but more on that shortly. Needless to say, I am extremely grateful to be a part of a space like this that enables me to express my queerness at the same time as defining it. But that doesn’t mean this story doesn’t have a beginning.
I was born to parents who really wanted a girl, although they decided to give me a mostly androgynous (if not traditionally male) name, because they thought it sounded nice. I would like to think that this was a foreshadowing of Things To Come, but I have to keep reminding myself that my life is not a movie. Growing up, I hated being a girl and everything that came with it. I still remember staring in horror at the jewellery my parents gifted me as a traditional celebration the day after I had my first period. It was certainly not something I wanted to celebrate, least of all because gold was definitely not my thing. I guess I knew that this was not uncommon for many girls and I thought I was merely going through a tomboy phase, but it was one I never really wanted to grow out of. At school, I had crushes on the boys just like all my girl friends did; I’d watch their interactions, their mannerisms, how they dressed and behaved. I now realise what I really wanted was acceptance, to be one of them, not to be with them per se.
Before I could get to the point at which I am today, there were a few other revelations that had to come first for me. Growing up in a religious family, my skepticism came from a place of feminism very early on, although I didn’t know it at the time. The idea that the sex I was born with meant that I had to be treated differently and often segregated from or limited to places angered me greatly and I remember many arguments with my parents over this. Nevertheless, it took me until I left my home and family to realise that it was possible to not have a religion (everyone I had known up until that point subscribed to a religion of some sort, even if it wasn’t my own) and still be a good person. The idea that morality didn’t have to be defined by an external force was the clincher for me, as well as the several atheist and queer friends I’d made that I loved dearly and most certainly did not think deserved eternal damnation for the way they chose to live their lives.
Shortly after this I decided to give dating a go, which was around the time that I also started to really examine both my gender and sexuality, and realised that they were two separate issues for me. After a series of dates with men and one woman that didn’t really go anywhere, I wanted to figure out exactly what was going on in my head and what I wanted.
A friend of mine held a 50’s dress-up birthday party, for which I decided to go as a ‘greaser’, Fonz-style, complete with rolled-up jeans, fake-leather jacket and brylcreem; and it was awesome, so liberating and possibly the most comfortable and happy with myself I’d ever been. I always preferred dressing androgynously, and who doesn’t love the occasional dress-up, but this was different. It was like a light-bulb to a room only seen through a two-way mirror had finally been turned on, and I could see the person I wanted to be, I enjoyed so much being, waiting on the other side. I realised I liked presenting as a man, but I knew I didn’t necessarily want to be one. I did some research and eventually, the concept of being genderqueer was what appealed to my thought processes the most. I don’t see myself as wholly female or male, but rather as just a person that enjoys both, mostly one over the other and sometimes neither.
Pretty soon after this, I met and began dating someone who, to my surprise and relief, almost instantly recognised, accepted and appreciated that part of my identity. At the same time, I also realised that a part of what attracted me to him were his more feminine characteristics. I said so, which led him to try to define his own gender identity, given the fact that he enjoyed those aspects of his body and psyche too. Pretty soon we both came to the conclusion that we were both happily genderqueer and we fully appreciate that fact about each other. As for my sexuality, I would probably call myself bisexual (leaning towards being mostly attracted to androgynous women) or more accurately, given the circumstances, pansexual.
This then raised other questions about what this would mean for me, because I’m with someone who is physically male, and part of me feels I should test out my ‘mostly attracted to women’ hypothesis. But at the same time, I’m perfectly happy with what we have and I don’t like the idea that you can’t know you’re attracted to a particular gender for sure until you’ve actually been there and gotten the t-shirt. All I can say is for now, I’m finally getting to understand and feel comfortable with myself and that’s enough for me. I also acknowledge the cis- and straight- privilege that our relationship benefits from, when viewed by the casual observer, which often leaves me with a fair share of guilt that I’m also coming to terms with, but perhaps that might be the subject of a future post.
I guess the story I’ve told so far is one of coming out mostly for, and to, myself, and it’s been a fairly long one at that. I know I still have a way to go, in terms of understanding myself better and coming out in the traditional sense to my family and those further around me, but I’ll write about that bridge when I come to and cross it.