Aftereffects Of Coming Out

Aftereffects Of Coming Out

Whenever I write a big, scary blog post, I never really know how to follow it up. Should I just go back to ‘business as usual’ posts about how I’m getting on with my dissertation (not as quickly as I’d like), or do I need to take this time to be serious and deep since that’s what people are probably expecting?

I also considered making a post made up of all the bits and pieces of things I’ve wanted to talk about on my blog and haven’t been able to for fear of outing myself — like how I hate that menstrual supplies are called by silly euphemisms like “feminine hygiene”. You know what I really don’t want when I’m already bleeding out of an orifice? To be made uncomfortable with misgendering and assumptions. For everything to be pink and swirly and make me feel like, as well as the aforementioned bleeding, there’s something wrong with me.

But I don’t know. I didn’t really think I could make a whole post of those kinds of rants, and I thought it might not be … comfortable for everyone. Nobody’s been unsupportive so far; that is to say, I haven’t had any mean or abusive comments, and a few people I might not have expected to get it have sent me messages saying they like me for who I am or whatever. However, I’ve noticed a sort of conspicuous silence too. Maybe it’s just changing blog culture that means people don’t comment so much, but compared to my original coming out post, the number of people I heard from — especially internet-only friends, even those I’ve known for years — was small.

Like I said, it might mean nothing. Maybe people just don’t comment on blog posts anymore. Maybe all of those internet friends are busy and that’s why I haven’t heard from them in weeks, even before this. Part of me thinks there are maybe some people who aren’t comfortable with me being non-binary, though, and while I’m unapologetic about it, I don’t really want to shove a whole load of stuff in their faces all at once, just because I can.

I’ll shove it in their faces gradually, instead. Much better.

Just like I’m super subtle with this mug hanging around in my room at uni.

I have been surprised by the positivity, so far. I’ve seen so many people attract Twitter trolls and abuse, so I assumed that would happen to me. So far, though, it hasn’t, even though I tweeted about it quite a few times and using popular hashtags. (It was Trans Day of Visibility the day after I came out, and I made a few jokes about my poor planning using the #tdov tag, which I might have thought would be where haters were hanging out.) Of course, I came out in a relatively safe environment, because this is my blog and I can moderate the comments and generally speaking people know there are going to be queer issues discussed here, so if they’re not okay with that, they don’t read it. Elsewhere, I might not have been so lucky.

My siblings, too, have been supportive. Within minutes of me sending an email to my whole family with a link to my post (by far the scariest part of the process), they emailed back saying they got it, and what would I like them to call me? My brother even said this:

Which is pretty astute of him given that he lives on the other side of the world and also doesn’t see the stuff I post on Facebook since he deleted his account, but I’m intrigued to know what made him think this and how long he’s been thinking it. What gave it away? Was it just my insistence on wearing trousers in this year’s family Christmas photo when I’ve always worn dresses in the past, or was it more than that? I’ll have to ask him some time.

I don’t make a habit of talking about my family on my blog because, you know, privacy and all that, but I know people (especially people who know me) will wonder how my parents reacted. They were the people I was most worried about coming out to, even though I’d technically told Mum already, a couple of years ago, and yet I did it. And well… they haven’t acknowledged it at all.

Neither of them replied to my email and in the days that have passed, nobody’s mentioned it. I wondered if they’d actually got it, but I know they’ve checked their emails and it didn’t bounce back to me, so they must have done. I’ve been too afraid to ask them what they thought.

Honestly, this is fairly much how my dad behaved when I came out as gay by means of a letter however many years ago. My mum talked to me about it, but Dad said nothing at all. I spent the next couple of years being as obnoxiously and obviously queer as I felt able to, even when it occasionally felt like a risk, and it paid off, because they’ve become a lot more accepting and supportive. (Though I think me being ace helped; I don’t know how they’d actually respond if I had a girlfriend or whatever.) Since I came out to my mum as non-binary ages ago, maybe she feels we don’t need to have a conversation, or maybe she just doesn’t know what to say.

I don’t know what to say either. I was a lot more prepared to come out as gay because despite growing up in a very heteronormative Christian environment, I’d spent several years as an overly-invested ‘straight’ ally before I realised that wasn’t what I was, and so I hadn’t internalised so many fears. I also wasn’t really closeted — I came out to my family after barely a couple of weeks. With being nonbinary, I’ve been hiding it for three years. It’s a lot harder to unlearn that and to feel comfortable being obvious and making jokes about it.

So. That’s a work in progress, I think. I imagined this was probably what would happen — that it would be kind of awkward and a bit of an elephant in the room. I wouldn’t have come out to them if I’d thought it would be worse.

Anyway, on the whole it’s been a relief, because now I can talk about stuff here that previously felt far too personal. I probably could’ve pulled off the whole ‘cis ally’ act, but I would’ve felt like I was confessing something, and I wouldn’t have been able to say everything I wanted to say. I might give it a little while before I start delving too deep into that, though — give people who aren’t so sure a bit of time to adjust. I’m not going to not talk about it, though, so if anyone’s really not okay with that… well, you might as well leave at this point.

Before I go back to staring futilely at my dissertation, I’ll share again the video I linked to in my last post, of a poetry performance I did in late 2014 with Cambridge PEN. It was terrifying, and I had to take a LOT of anxiety meds just to stop shaking like a jelly, but I also think it illustrates that this whole gender thing is an issue that’s been on my mind for a long time already. Also I look great in dungarees (I apologise for the poor lighting).

10 thoughts on “Aftereffects Of Coming Out

  1. I’d save the things that bug you for individual posts when you want to post something but don’t have time/energy/absence-of-insistent-cat to do a long considered piece. For example, a paragraph on why a certain section of the magazine shelves being labelled Women’s Monthlies is both amusing and sexist is an entirely acceptable post.

    That way, you get several posts out of the list rather than one if you wish, but can still put a couple of things into one post if you feel they both strongly support a common thesis.

    1. True. I guess I’m just used to writing really long (1000+ words) blog posts and so when something can’t fill that length, I don’t write it or I combine it with other things. I really need to work on the whole ‘shorter posts’ thing.

  2. Hey,

    I just wanted to let you know my silence is not rejection. I don’t if anyone else was feeling this way, but I didn’t post because to me it didn’t seem like much a revelation. When you came out you said you were labeling yourself as “queer”, specifically because you weren’t sure what label you felt comfortable with, and I’ve watched with interest in the years after to see what conclusion you would come to. I noticed when you decided to call yourself specifically “asexual, biromantic”. And then I noticed your shift away from romance at all. You change your clothes and hair styles somewhat frequently, and some look more male and some more female, and truthfully, I think everyone has some of both genders. In some people it’s more pronounced than in other, so this new label didn’t seem to rock the boat all that much to me.
    In retrospect, this was a myopic perspective, because clearly if it meant enough for you to write a post tinged with trepidation and it felt big enough for you to call it coming out again then it meant alot to you and you would have liked a response. Sorry about that.

    1. That’s okay, and thanks for commenting now and telling me this! It’s always interesting to hear how other people perceive me and how they understand my own perception and presentation of myself, too. I knew it probably wasn’t a surprise to people who know me IRL, especially as I was out to a lot of them already, but I didn’t know how much that was true of internet people too. It definitely felt like a big step to come out, although a lot of that was to do with coming out to strangers more than to people I already know — I wasn’t sure how people stumbling across my blog would react, but I should’ve known people who have been reading for a while would have similar feelings to people I know IRL.

      1. You’re welcome and thank you for this post. It reminded me of the importance of trying to understand why somebody is saying what they’re saying, and not just what they’re saying, despite the difficulty of that task.

  3. The dungarees are masterful, as is the poetry. But of course, I would say that wouldn’t I ;)

    Also HOLY CRUD THE WHOLE ‘FEMININE HYGIENE’ THING DRIVES ME BATTY TOO. Like …. this is not a feminine thing. This is a “my body came with an inbuilt self-immolating organ that hates me and I need something to stop it doing so all over me on a monthly basis” thing. I can think of few things less feminine. Or indeed, really, human. What part of evolution decided that debilitating the female of the species with her own blood and organs was a good idea? Dammit, Darwin, I need answers!

    On a more serious note: not knowing how to follow up something serious is something I think we all feel. Mostly because, I think, our cues to follow up come from the reactions we receive, and when they are varied – or there are not as many of them as we expect – we can struggle to choose our line. Especially on a platform that can address all those responses at once. And let’s not get into the age old internet communication vs face-to-face either. Lack of immediacy, lack of body language, yadda yadda. It’s a complicated thing.

    1. I don’t understand why inaccurate euphemisms are even necessary! Just call pads and tampons “menstrual supplies”, avoiding both confusion AND misgendering of dfab trans and nb people, sheesh.

  4. I wouldn’t take silence as a rejection. I think a lot of people who have read your blog a while just kind of nodded and went, “Yep, sounds about right,” without much interest in commenting on the obvious. That was my reaction. I couldn’t exactly add much to the conversation, so I didn’t say anything.

    1. That’s what I’m gradually realising (especially as quite a lot of people have messaged me saying things to that effect now). I think when you’re nervous and insecure about something it’s really easy to read into silence as something negative.

  5. I don’t comment much on blogs sometimes, but I’ve always liked reading yours, and I just wanted to give what little support I’m able to from my corner of the Internet. I can’t imagine the courage it takes to publish a post like your last one, and I’m glad you found a label that feels more right for you – I’m sorry if that’s phrased oddly. I apologize for not commenting on your last post; I support you 100%, although that probably doesn’t mean much because I’m never around in the comments section. >< Also, I'm totally with you on the feminine hygiene labels…I think there's really no nice way to phrase "period supplies," but sticking "feminine" in the name doesn't help anyone. I could see a post on this in the future! And your poem is beautiful, you did a wonderful job reading it – I really hate public speaking, that must have been stressful!

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