Rachel’s National Coming Out Day Reflections

Rachel wearing a multi-coloured headband, pouting

On my birthday this summer I hit the strangest of milestones – I had now spent more of my life ‘out’ than ‘in’. The older I get the stranger I find the concept of coming out. However, until society abandons heterosexuality as default, us queer folks are going to have to keep coming out.

For those of us who can, coming out is never a singular event, and sometimes our first time is less significant than our 45th or 400th. On #NationalComingOutDay I’ve been thinking about the ways that we come out, and the ways that I’ve come out.

Texting your best friend because you can’t say the words

In the mirror as your oldest friend straightens your hair

At the end of a phone call to someone important

Through tears in a broken-down car

Sat on the curb outside a house party

During your English lesson

At the bus stop

Outside the pub

In your bedroom

In his bedroom

In her bedroom

On your Myspace profile

On MSN messenger, hoping she is too

When you started wearing waistcoats and sweater vests on nights out

To the box office person as you fight to pay for the cinema ticket on your first date

To the kind and discreet cashier at WH Smith buying Diva Magazine

Playing ‘I have never’ during fresher’s week

To your new lecturer in your essay

To the bouncer after being refused entry on Canal Street

In the club cubicles

On the dancefloor

Over shots

Over rum

Over wine

On the last 192 home from town

Answering your colleagues’ cryptic questions

To the 80-year-old you’ve been pulling pints for

To the guys trying to buy you and your date drinks

When the guy tries to kiss you at New Year / after the gig / on the work’s do

When they’re trying to ‘set you up’

Over the buffet at a family party

At your second cousins 21st

At a family wedding

At work’s Christmas do

On a hen do

In the toilets at your grandparents golden wedding party

At the hotel reception when they double check that you wanted a double, not a twin room

To the Maître d when he asks if you are ‘sisters’ despite you looking nothing alike

When the taxi driver asks about your ‘husband’

Correcting your partner’s pronouns to your gas / water / electric / internet / phone providers

Buying her a Valentine’s / Christmas / Anniversary card

Buying her flowers

Paying for her meal

Filling out the census

Filling out a job application

To new neighbours

At a protest

In a workshop in answer to “Miss are you gay?”

Through the widest smile to someone who has just stepped out in their 80s

Because they needed to know that you were safe to talk to

Because you felt brave

Because you couldn’t keep it in anymore

Because if you didn’t, you’d never know

Because you wanted to.

– Rachel

Rachel is 19 years old and sits on a wall holding a flower.

Rachel in a cardboard box, grinning and pointing at the camera

Rachel sits in a rehearsal room quietly reading a script.

Rachel giving a speech