On being out

[Cross-posted on Pillowfort]

I’m not out to anyone in meatspace and I always feel so guilty about it. My family probably won’t kick me out, or cut me off, or put in me in any physical danger. I’m white, and not a trans woman, and I’m not super-visibly disabled, so I’m probably not at risk of extreme violence if I come out to my classmates. So why don’t I come out?

Part of it is my time on Tumblr, I think. When you constantly hear about how you’re not really oppressed for your identity, or that the part of your identity that really matters to you is nothing compared to the “SGA” parts of you (whatever that’s supposed to mean, when you’re gender-queer)…it feels like I should be out, that I’m privileged and should have no problems declaring my identity to the world. So I feel guilty that I’m not out.

Part of it is just how messy and complicated my identity is. In the online spaces where I am out, even trying to describe what exactly I feel like is almost impossible! And that’s even before you get to the issues that I have with communicating pretty much anything. It’s easier to be out online when you can edit yourself- not something I really have the privilege saying aloud.

Part of it is my disability. I have Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) which makes me terrified with opening myself up to people. And my identity is something so personal to me I just don’t want to deal with people in meatspace knowing it about me. It’s easier to share online- I can always block people if they react in a negative way. And it doesn’t feel as ~real~ to me, when it’s online (as real as anything can feel to me, anyway. But that’s a whole different topic).

It probably doesn’t help that I don’t have anyone in meatspace who I feel comfortable with. My parents always used to tease me about having “crushes” that I never actually had. They made me so uncomfortable, because of course the assumption was that I was a girl who liked a boy, or, if not that, then a girl who liked a girl. The possibility that I wasn’t a girl, or that I didn’t like anyone, never occurred to them. I told them I didn’t like anybody but they didn’t believe me.

After a while, my parents stopped teasing me about crushes. I’d say I was grateful but it’s hard to notice an absence like that and actively appreciate it. And besides it was replaced with…other things that made me uncomfortable.

And instead I got car rides where my mother tried to tell me that “It’s just like having a special friend. Why don’t you want that?”. And “There’s something wrong with you.”

I moved four states away for college.

I think I’m out to my sibling as ace? Maybe? And attracted to men? My memory of the time is really foggy…I remember feeling bad though. Like it was forced out of me.

I think there was a time too, when I was sitting with a bunch of friends at my birthday party. They had had a discussion about sexualities? Genders? I can’t remember which. And they asked me, and I said “I don’t know.” Because that’s always the safe answer, right?

And later, we were downstairs and about to have cake, and one of my friends started talking really loudly about how “all of us are queer, A and B and C are queer, and [deadname] doesn’t know!”, and my parents were there and they could hear but I didn’t know what to do.

One of my other friends told them to shut up, though. For that I’m grateful. I don’t think my parents heard.

So. I’m kinda out? But not really. And it’s weird, and messy, and I feel guilty about it, somehow.

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