Coming out is a privilege

ZACH GOFF, Evergreen columnist

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Coming out is a privilege, not a right. During the month of June, I remind myself of all the people who cannot be open and proud because of their circumstances. Not only are there still countries that criminalize people for loving who they want, but at times our country still struggles to include diversity in conversations.

I am privileged enough to have a family that accepted me as I am, though there were some growing pains, and I must humble myself. After several years living out of the closet, openly gay, I forgot about the fear, and need to hide my sexuality from the world.

Many people who have come out agree that in the long term it’s been great to not have to hide part of themselves.

But every once in a while I’m thrown into a situation where I may not feel safe divulging myself to others and until I’m in a situation where I can’t correct people about my sexuality, religion, or any other minority that people are punished for belonging to, I don’t realize how much it comes up in conversation.

The truth about being LGBTQ+ is that it’s hard. I constantly must make judgments about people to determine if it is safe for me to mention my boyfriend in conversation.

Even in Pullman, on more than one occasion I’ve chosen not to contribute to a conversation about significant others because I didn’t think the people I was around would receive it well.

I love Pullman, it is my home away from home, and 95 percent of the time I feel safe. But there’s still that small percent where I’ll be walking home late at night where I won’t hold my boyfriend’s hand as we walk past someone because it is easier to be safe than sorry.

My story is a good one in terms of coming out. My friends immediately embraced me and told me they loved me. My sister, father, and mother all had questions, but ultimately I knew they had my back. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for every person.

I know a few people who decided to leave home because of how they were treated after coming out. I feel it is part of my job as someone who had an easy coming out process to help build a chosen family for those individuals.

That’s what an ally is to me: someone who can help make the difficult times a little easier for those struggling. I’m not saying handle the situation for them, but support their decision on how to handle it, especially when coming out.

It is not your story to tell, so be there for them when they decide to tell it.

Coming out is a deeply personal act. That person is sharing something they might not fully accept about themselves yet. How the other person reacts can affect the rest of their coming out process.

So if you want to be an ally, help make that process feel normal. All anyone wants is to feel safe and accepted with the people they love.