I read, with some interest, the EW interview with Sean Maher (Firefly!) in which he comes out of the closet after a career of almost 14 years, citing extreme fear as to why he didn’t do so much earlier. I really feel for this guy as straight people, honestly, have no idea just how damn scary it is to come out and how, unless you are a celebrity, you have to keep coming out your entire life. It isn’t a one time thing, not even close. Every new person you meet and every new social situation you find yourself in, you as a gay person, have to make the decision to come out or stay closeted. Also, the fear over coming out doesn’t really get any less. Sure in some situations, it is easier, but in most you have to make some judgement calls about the people you are with and whether it is even safe to reveal your sexuality.
I am an ‘openly’ gay woman. I say openly in comma marks because even though I am out at work and to my family and friends and online, I am not out in all areas of my life. The one place where I’m not out and where this is slightly bugging me, is my German class. My German class is not just a group of random people I learn German with, I have known most of them for almost a year and besides spending 3 hours a week learning German together, we also go out to the pub and to dinner every couple of months. These are people I would class as my friends or at the very least, very good acquaintances. I feel like, at times, I’m being dishonest. I have never lied about my sexuality, it has never come up, but I feel I haven’t been completely honest. I just avoid any questions about my love life or if asked directly, I play ‘the pronoun game’. The reason I don’t admit I am gay is that I’m too damn scared to. I’m scared of being shunned by them, being the class outcast that no one wants to sit next to or speak to because they are gay. This fear has no basis in reality. No one in my class has made even a remotely homophobic remark. Yet still I have this irrational fear.
You would think coming out would get easier over time and the more comfortable you are with your sexuality, but it really doesn’t. There always seem to be situations where coming out is just too damn scary. I wish it didn’t need to be this way.