In the past 10 years, rights for LGBTQ+ folk have come an extremely long way and it’s hard not to be grateful for that progress. We have fought stigma after stigma, and waved a finger at ignorance as we did it. But the battle isn’t over, and I think it’s time we address the glamorous aesthetic that coming out has acquired.
This article isn’t a sob story. I am not writing this to complain and whinge, but it needs to be made clear that the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ people do not end when they come out. Whether that be an internal battle or an external war, coming out of the closet is simply the first step into a scary world that we’ve decided to be ourselves in; a sentiment I’m sure a lot of people can relate to.
Being yourself is terrifying. Nobody likes rejection and so if you are being unapologetically yourself and are still rejected, the knife is twisted a little bit more. However, that rejection is all too familiar for a large majority of people that identify as LGBTQ+. This is not to say that the opinions I express in this article are universal for LGBTQ+ people, but I do believe that there is an understanding held by those that have come out about the aftermath of the closet.
Coming out of the closet has often been represented and discussed as the ‘be all and end all’, marking the end of a LGBTQ+ persons’ inner battle and allowing them to finally be themselves. And don’t get me wrong, coming out is impossibly hard, making it a huge release when it does happen. But that doesn’t last forever and eventually you must adjust to this new world in which you are so unfamiliar with who you are. For some time, you have been pretending to be someone else and so coming out is like meeting someone you vaguely know.
However, this is not to scare people away from leaving the closet. Do it. It is freeing, liberating and an amazing step in the direction of being happy. But there needs to be a warning of what might come afterwards.
Mental health is a difficult topic; so are bigotry and hate crimes. But it’s important that young, and old, LGBTQ+ people are aware of the world that’s out there, especially if they haven’t come out yet. I’m not saying these three topics are bound to happen, but in my personal experience, they can.
I came all the way out in February 2018 and my whole coming out took 1 year. Ever since, I’ve made true friendships, made deeper connections with family and existing friends and found out a lot about myself that I never knew or accepted. But I have had my struggles, and I know other LGBTQ+ people have had theirs. But all I can say is you will get through them because you can, because you were brave enough to come out.
The closet isn’t pretty or glamorous. In fact, it’s more like a prison. Coming out of it takes time, and adjusting to the world outside does too.