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I Come Out Every Day16 min read

May 30, 2018 | Queer 101 | 0 comments

I come out every single day.

    The nature of being a queer person is very interesting. We don’t typically have two parents who are also LGBTQ+; we don’t typically know that we are a part of our minority group until middle childhood; no one can tell us that we are a part of the queer community, we have to come to that conclusion ourselves; in order to get support, we have to out ourselves and hope for the best. Now do that every day…     I can remember growing up in the 90’s and hearing about the gay community. I was old enough to watch Will and Grace and remember loving it, but not exactly sure why. I remember the episode of Seinfeld where the male leads kept saying that they weren’t gay but that “there’s nothing wrong with it!” I remember hearing about AIDS, but not really understanding what it was. I also remember much of the rhetoric that came out of the television and reverberated in my family’s conversations: “I don’t have anything wrong with people being gay, I just don’t think they should be shoving it down our throats!” “You don’t have to tell everyone about your sex life all the time!” “It’s inappropriate to talk about these things in schools. I’m afraid that they’re trying to recruit kids into their community!”

“I’m afraid that they’re trying to recruit kids into their community!”

    Fun stuff right? While things have progressed (in certain communities), there is one constant that remains true: We are straight until proven gay, and once we’re gay, it’s a secret and not appropriate for many settings. We are expected to figure out that we’re queer, tell only the select few people who absolutely must know, and then to assimilate to hetero-normative culture and stop “forcing it down the throats” of people who don’t want to hear about it. It’s quite the oxymoron: if you want support, talk about it. If you want more support after that first time, talk to someone else.     So what does this have to do with coming out every day? Well, I’ll tell you a little story. Once upon a time I had a really fun job working with kids. I was doing work akin to a Dean of Students (planning field trips, parent/student/teacher relations, etc.) and I loved it. Around that time is when I met my now feyónce (please let everyone know it’s spelled like this now). I mentioned to another teacher in a common space that he and I were finally boyfriends and I was so excited. A parent sent an email. I was told by the parent that I should not be talking about such things because her child wasn’t raised to support that sort of thing. I changed nothing, and continued talking about my life just as every other straight professional there might casually mention a vacation with their husband or moving in with their girlfriend. The parent sent another email.
    This time I wasn’t just being inappropriate, I was called the “bad gay” on campus because I couldn’t just be like the one other gay guy and never share anything personal whatsoever. In her mind the perfect gay person was entirely mute publicly about their status as a queer individual. Again, I changed nothing. Weeks later a threatening email came from the father. It specified that he (a large italian man) would happily come to campus to “talk” to me about my behavior. My fellow administrators fully supported me and were equally dismayed at this development. The staff responded forcefully about my right to be openly gay, the family backed down, the child graduated, we moved on.     One year later, a new parent sends an email. This time it was about my being in drag (I’m a fabulous drag queen) for the Halloween party, which is something I had done every year I worked there and was supported by administration to do. The parent again touted his family’s religious holdings and that the amount of money he was paying should guarantee that his son doesn’t know about my being gay and a “transvestite.” It was like whiplash for me. I just couldn’t believe that my being openly queer was actually having an effect on my job. It tainted the well for me and sadly my relationship with the school never truly recovered.

“It was like whiplash for me.”

    I come out every single day. If I mention having a feyónce (repetition to remind you to spell it this way) I come out. If someone notices my engagement ring, I come out. If someone asks me what I do, I come out. If I hold hands, I come out. If I advocate, I come out. If anyone comes to this website, I come out.     Every single day, all the queer people you know come out a thousand little times. We aren’t trying to force it down anyone’s throat. We aren’t trying to recruit for “the gay agenda.” We certainly aren’t trying to pick up your boyfriend, do it for the attention, demand special treatment, etc. And, every single instance of those thousands of times I come out a day holds the potential for discrimination. If I have a rainbow pin on my coat, I could get a bunch of thumbs up, or I run the risk of any person in New York City seeing it and verbally, mentally, emotionally, and most terrifying, physically assault me. The numbers don’t lie, this is happening more often each year.     If you’re the parent of a queer child, a teacher, social worker, or just an adult who wants to better understand the queer adolescent experience, remember this: coming out can lead to support, and coming out can lead to neglect and abuse. As a child, how is the queer teen supposed to know which they’ll receive? What can you do to assure them that they will be wrapped in love and support? Do you speak up when friends or family use derogatory language about the queer community? Imagine what you would feel like if every day, a thousand little times, when you casually mention having a boyfriend or a wife you could be met with violence. If you need support in this, please reach out to me to schedule a free call. Get started in my E-courses, developed to help parents best raise their queer child. They need you to understand this, because they live it every day.

I come out every single day.

    The nature of being a queer person is very interesting. We don’t typically have two parents who are also LGBTQ+; we don’t typically know that we are a part of our minority group until middle childhood; no one can tell us that we are a part of the queer community, we have to come to that conclusion ourselves; in order to get support, we have to out ourselves and hope for the best. Now do that every day…     I can remember growing up in the 90’s and hearing about the gay community. I was old enough to watch Will and Grace and remember loving it, but not exactly sure why. I remember the episode of Seinfeld where the male leads kept saying that they weren’t gay but that “there’s nothing wrong with it!” I remember hearing about AIDS, but not really understanding what it was. I also remember much of the rhetoric that came out of the television and reverberated in my family’s conversations: “I don’t have anything wrong with people being gay, I just don’t think they should be shoving it down our throats!” “You don’t have to tell everyone about your sex life all the time!” “It’s inappropriate to talk about these things in schools. I’m afraid that they’re trying to recruit kids into their community!”

“I’m afraid that they’re trying to recruit kids into their community!”

    Fun stuff right? While things have progressed (in certain communities), there is one constant that remains true: We are straight until proven gay, and once we’re gay, it’s a secret and not appropriate for many settings. We are expected to figure out that we’re queer, tell only the select few people who absolutely must know, and then to assimilate to hetero-normative culture and stop “forcing it down the throats” of people who don’t want to hear about it. It’s quite the oxymoron: if you want support, talk about it. If you want more support after that first time, talk to someone else.     So what does this have to do with coming out every day? Well, I’ll tell you a little story. Once upon a time I had a really fun job working with kids. I was doing work akin to a Dean of Students (planning field trips, parent/student/teacher relations, etc.) and I loved it. Around that time is when I met my now feyónce (please let everyone know it’s spelled like this now). I mentioned to another teacher in a common space that he and I were finally boyfriends and I was so excited. A parent sent an email. I was told by the parent that I should not be talking about such things because her child wasn’t raised to support that sort of thing. I changed nothing, and continued talking about my life just as every other straight professional there might casually mention a vacation with their husband or moving in with their girlfriend. The parent sent another email.
    This time I wasn’t just being inappropriate, I was called the “bad gay” on campus because I couldn’t just be like the one other gay guy and never share anything personal whatsoever. In her mind the perfect gay person was entirely mute publicly about their status as a queer individual. Again, I changed nothing. Weeks later a threatening email came from the father. It specified that he (a large italian man) would happily come to campus to “talk” to me about my behavior. My fellow administrators fully supported me and were equally dismayed at this development. The staff responded forcefully about my right to be openly gay, the family backed down, the child graduated, we moved on.     One year later, a new parent sends an email. This time it was about my being in drag (I’m a fabulous drag queen) for the Halloween party, which is something I had done every year I worked there and was supported by administration to do. The parent again touted his family’s religious holdings and that the amount of money he was paying should guarantee that his son doesn’t know about my being gay and a “transvestite.” It was like whiplash for me. I just couldn’t believe that my being openly queer was actually having an effect on my job. It tainted the well for me and sadly my relationship with the school never truly recovered.

“It was like whiplash for me.”

    I come out every single day. If I mention having a feyónce (repetition to remind you to spell it this way) I come out. If someone notices my engagement ring, I come out. If someone asks me what I do, I come out. If I hold hands, I come out. If I advocate, I come out. If anyone comes to this website, I come out.     Every single day, all the queer people you know come out a thousand little times. We aren’t trying to force it down anyone’s throat. We aren’t trying to recruit for “the gay agenda.” We certainly aren’t trying to pick up your boyfriend, do it for the attention, demand special treatment, etc. And, every single instance of those thousands of times I come out a day holds the potential for discrimination. If I have a rainbow pin on my coat, I could get a bunch of thumbs up, or I run the risk of any person in New York City seeing it and verbally, mentally, emotionally, and most terrifying, physically assault me. The numbers don’t lie, this is happening more often each year.     If you’re the parent of a queer child, a teacher, social worker, or just an adult who wants to better understand the queer adolescent experience, remember this: coming out can lead to support, and coming out can lead to neglect and abuse. As a child, how is the queer teen supposed to know which they’ll receive? What can you do to assure them that they will be wrapped in love and support? Do you speak up when friends or family use derogatory language about the queer community? Imagine what you would feel like if every day, a thousand little times, when you casually mention having a boyfriend or a wife you could be met with violence. If you need support in this, please reach out to me to schedule a free call. Get started in my E-courses, developed to help parents best raise their queer child. They need you to understand this, because they live it every day.

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Nathaniel Gray

Nathaniel Gray

Founder, Writer, and LGBTQ+ Empathy Mentor

Nathaniel is a social worker, mentor for parents of LGBTQ+ youth, and facilitator/empathy mentor. He started out in NYC as a singer/dancer/actor from the heartland (O-H-I-O) getting his BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. After years of performance, Nathaniel turned to working with youth, as an educator and administrator at Fusion Academy. Since then he has completed his Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University and started The Proud Path, as well as worked with the Ali Forney Center and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, agencies addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. His mission is to learn everything he can about the coming out process to assist others through it, and develop empathy within those who never have to.
Nathaniel Gray

Nathaniel Gray

Founder, Writer, and LGBTQ+ Empathy Mentor

Nathaniel is a social worker, mentor for parents of LGBTQ+ youth, and facilitator/empathy mentor. He started out in NYC as a singer/dancer/actor from the heartland (O-H-I-O) getting his BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. After years of performance, Nathaniel turned to working with youth, as an educator and administrator at Fusion Academy. Since then he has completed his Master’s in Social Work at Fordham University and started The Proud Path, as well as worked with the Ali Forney Center and the Hetrick-Martin Institute, agencies addressing LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. His mission is to learn everything he can about the coming out process to assist others through it, and develop empathy within those who never have to.

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