It surely would seem that suddenly there’s a wave of people coming out as part of the LGBTQ+ community. In the last few years, I’ve come out formally to my friends and family as queer. Many of my friends have also become more open about discussing the fact that they identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender. We finally feel comfortable admitting that we’ve been hiding a large part of who we are for long enough. Because more people are living their truth, it would seem that coming out as LGBTQ+ might be the “cool thing.” But as anyone who is actually out will tell you, being out isn’t trendy. It’s actually makes you very vulnerable.
As someone who has come out multiple times, it’s not an easy thing to do. Speaking your truth, out loud to other people is really scary. Especially to people who you know and love. There’s certainly a worry that people will reject you. That fear of rejection is enough to keep people unhappily in the closet for years. You’d think that as you say it out loud more, coming out would get easier, but it doesn’t. Every single time is just as scary as the time before.
Even though it’s super scary to come out, there are more safe spaces to do so. That could be why it seems like more people are doing it. Social media gives people the community they need to live their truth, even if it’s just a little bit. After coming out publicly, many of my friends revealed that they, too, were out and we all felt a little less alone.
And those safe spaces are what destigmatize the community. We’re making great strides towards true inclusion, which makes it easier for more people to be out. But those steps don’t mean that being out is trendy. It means that people are feeling more comfortable to be themselves. This is especially true with younger generations, who are already less obsessed with identifying labels. As they see the advancements we’ve made, they are more comfortable with just being who they are.
But, whether people want to believe it or not, being out isn’t trendy simply because, despite the strides, we still live in a world focused on heterosexual and cisgender. For every person who is accepting of our lifestyle, there are many others who think that we’re sick freaks. And the people who feel that way have huge platforms and power, like heads of state and religious leaders. When the people in power think you’re living some sort of twisted lifestyle, they’re going to do everything in their power to strip you of every right you have.
We’ve seen this countless times with the current administration. Pretty much since the beginning, the Trump administration has actively been trying to strip away the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. This administration flat out denied U.S. Embassy buildings from flying the Pride flag on embassy flagpoles for the month. They have recently also announced plans to implement a new policy where members of the community can be denied the right to adopt children for “religious exemptions.” This follows a similar rule through the Department of Health and Human Services where doctors can claim this same exemption to deny LGBTQ+ Americans health care services.
While the whole LGBTQ+ community is certainly under siege, none are more at risk than the transgender community. Being trans, especially a transperson of color (even more specifically a woman) is deadly in the country. And the Trump administration just keeps doing more and more to make their lives more dangerous and difficult. This includes housing discrimination, mainly focused around federal monies going towards homeless shelters. They’ve also rescinded the bathroom ordinance set by the Obama administration, which gives students protection to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. And of course, there’s the military ban.
Being out isn’t trendy when you can go out with your girlfriend and get the shit beaten out of you. The lesbian couple who openly shared the story of being attacked by a group of men for refusing to kiss aren’t an anomaly. Lesbians are often festishized by hetero csigender men. This, combined with an overwhelming sense of entitlement leads to them thinking that lesbians exist for their enjoyment, like porn come to life.
While I’ve been fortunate to not have been physically attacked, I have encountered men like this too. Ones who feel that if they see two women on a date, they have a right to insert themselves. They’ve asked inappropriate questions, crossed physical boundaries, and been generally creepy. Once, a man approached my date and me and told us that his girlfriend was interested in us. He was basically trying to proposition us to have a threesome with his girlfriend, likely while he watched. We laughed it off uncomfortably, and waited until after they had been gone for a bit to leave. It’s easy to say that we should have stuck up for ourselves more, but we were shocked and terrified.
Plus, for every person who comes out to their families and is embraced, there are several who aren’t. Being out gets kids and adults disowned from their families and kicked out of houses. Knowing that the people who should be on your side are going to shun your for who you are? That isn’t trendy, that’s fucking brave. Because those kids and adults have to literally start living their lives all over. But they’re stuck out in the middle of the ocean with no compass and no map. Being out isn’t trendy when you can end up alone.
That’s why you can’t call an influx in people not wanting to hide “trendy.” Being out isn’t trendy; it’s an act of bravery. Because there are plenty of terrible things that can happen to just because you want to be yourself. Living out and proud as a member of the LGBTQ+ community takes a lot of courage, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Living your life the way you want to, even though you know a lot of people are against you is hard. Even with the best support system, you are still vulnerable.
So if you think that people finally getting fed up with hiding themselves is a sudden “trend,” you might want to have a better understanding of the word.
Because more people are opening up about their gender and sexual identity, it seems like the cool thing. Coming out isn’t trendy, it’s an act of bravery.
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