OPINIONZ with Poyzon: Coming Out, Are You Ready?

I,continuously, amidst muted protests from my peers equate life to drowning. It is jam-packed with endless struggles that  heap upon other struggles with only a few moments of relief when you poke your head out of the water to breathe before you are down under again, fighting just to stay afloat for a moment longer. When life, being the practical joke that it is, hands you the unfortunate gift of being LGBT, you are in for a whole different set of teething troubles altogether. Nature is kinder though- it offers each of us a different set of tools to navigate  the complexities of life and coming out (to ourselves and others) is one of those tools that strengthens us.

Coming out is the one process that has no manual. No one has really figured out how best and when to come out since there’s no prescribed age, situation or time.. People come out for different reasons; some do it for closure, others for comfort, others just want to, and most have had enough of lurking in the shadows like night crawlers and want to let live. There are unfortunate cases of those who are outed and hence forced to own-up to their truth.

Whatever the case, the harsh realities in our narrow minded social order have me worried about LGBT teenagers who feel the need to come out  given the political climate and religious settings that have found a way of aligning themselves and normalising as cultural norms while stimulating all forms of homophobia. It is therefore important to handle the coming out process as delicately as possible. Mental preparation should be considered  to ease the person you are coming out to slowly into your truth. Personally, I used to speak positively of LGBT persons to the friends and relatives I intended to come out to every time a topic about them arose.

One should also consider telling the people closest to him/her first (close sisters, brothers, cousins, friends, aunts or uncles). These people should be able to let him/her be free around them. This kind of support gives root/ foundation to the individual and provides a much needed base of emotional bearing and love that allows for wholesome growth.Coming out of the closet should be to the people that matter the most (family, friends etc) and does not necessarily imply speeding off to a ‘kiss and tell’ spree; exposing your business to the whole world. Being gay doesn’t exempt you from the civility of enjoying your privacy.

Whereas it’s important not to let judgement and hate dictate when and how to live our lives, teenagers have to realise that the world won't roll out a red carpet and sound bells for you when you come out. It would be a great injustice to sell you a fading blurry flame that will burn out any time in form of a ‘coming out gospel’. You should know at the back of your mind that losing family and friends is a possibility during this process and therefore there is much need for you to manage your expectations.

There are those who personally wouldn't mind rubbing their ‘gayness’ in everyone's face that cared to lend them a sliver of attention- they would gladly do it without having to worry about themselves in regard to age or financial independence. These normally go with the ‘beat the cockroach’ mentality of belonging to the closet and live proudly. Others indulge in rampant sexual activity with their peers as they explore the vast landscape of sexuality exposing themselves to a cocktail of STDs. Some teenagers have wrong illusions of being supported by LGBT organizations so they adopt all sorts of rebel behaviour, commercialise their sexuality with the delusion that they can live off of being gay, which is unrealistic hence leading to a life full of disappointments and aching desperation.

However, take note not to become your own worst enemy during the coming out process and remember that how you do it matters. It’s vital to maintain a certain level of discipline  especially if you are still obtaining financial assistance from your parents- be it education or otherwise.

Coming out of the closet is meant to give you peace from speculations, not to bind your freedom. It’s simply meant to be a reaffirmation that this is WHO I AM and I am not less human than someone else. Like I mentioned earlier, coming out has no manual, it works differently for different people; you just have to figure out who you are and how you want to live.