Pride month is hard for me.
I identify as a cisgender queer woman…and also as a Christian. With a very Christian family, and a very Christian upbringing, I think you can piece together why this is so. However, I’m also an activist. For most of my life, I have done my best to show as much love and solidarity towards the LGBTQ+ community without outing myself – I once didn’t do a good enough job of covering it up and was nearly kicked out of my home.
It’s especially hard when the internet exists. The internet is like an entire other universe for me, and when I joined Tumblr in 2011 at the ripe age of 13, I was happy and queer. I was out, but only online, and in circles at least six times removed from anyone I directly knew – so not very much in real life at all. This was a happy medium, until my writing online became more and more popular, and people from my church and my family started having suspicions. I don’t blame them – I’m very, very queer. This aside, my parents come from a part of Africa in which the sentence for being LGBTQ+ is jail time or death. See what I’m saying here? Every year, when June rolls around, I want to write. I want to say so, so much. I want to talk about my breakup with my longterm girlfriend. I want to go to pride marches. I want to do so much, but I’m stuck in the closet, peering out through a crack in the door.
The issue seems trivial to some people I explain it to. I usually get tons of “just come out, they’ll get used to it” speeches from well meaning people who fail to understand that coming out just isn’t an option for me.
Apart from my faith apparently conflicting with who I am (for the record, I don’t think it does, I think that God very much knows I’m queer, and loves that I’m queer) coming out isn’t a once-off event. There’s no universal announcement you can make to everyone you’ve ever met in both your past & future, and tell them: Hey! I’m here and queer! Get used to it!
Coming out happens every time anything to do with your sexuality comes up in a new group of people. I don’t know if I could ever come out to my family, let alone to my church, or to the extremely conservative families I work for. It’s a concept that’s just…it’s exhausting to even think about.
So, for those of you with friends who are somewhat out or not out alone, here’s how you can be a good ally:
- Never out anyone. Ever. The consequences for them may be unimaginable for you, and it’s not your place. Not ever.
- Don’t try to get people to come out. It’s (a) not imperative and (b) not your business.
- Nobody owes it to you to “tell” you. If and/or when they are ready to come out, don’t be that person who says “Why didn’t you tell me!?” It’s selfish and also nonsensical. It’s not your life in any way, shape or form.
- Be kind. Pride is hard to have if everything in their world prevents them from having it. So, be nice. Be a good person.
This pride month, look out for your friends. Look out for people you know.
And, to my LGBTQ+ community, stand with pride. Today, and every other day.