OPINION: Coming out shouldn’t be taboo

Shelby Petrie

Coming out can be, and often is, an extremely nerve-wracking experience. The coming out process is not one that occurs overnight; it is something that can take days, weeks, months or even years.

Every year on Oct. 11, America recognizes National Coming Out Day. This is a day for members of the LGBTQ+ community to feel proud of who they are and for a few brave souls, maybe even come out to their family and friends for the first time.

It takes a great deal of courage for someone to come out to the people they love, which is why this day is so important for the LGBTQ+ community.

However, as a member of this community, I often wonder why we even have to “come out” in the first place. Do straight people have to announce their heterosexuality? No, because heterosexuality is the socially-established norm. People are presumed to be straight unless otherwise stated.

A myriad of double standards and inequalities exist between the heterosexual, cisgender population and those of us that deviate from this. Straight people don’t have to deal with the crippling anxiety of what might occur should their family choose to reject them and their sexual orientation or gender identity. They don’t need to worry about the looks they may receive in public for holding their partners’ hand. Cisgender people don’t have to worry about having their gender misconstrued, invalidated or condemned. Gender and sexuality are not black and white. It all falls on a spectrum.

I came out roughly four years ago now and my life has forever been changed because of it.

I often think back on that time and wonder if I should have waited or kept it to myself. I have friends that have still yet to come out because they don’t feel ready or are simply too afraid. The only issue is that by not coming out, you are keeping a huge part of yourself hidden. It feels like living a lie. This is something that a heterosexual person will never understand.

Coming out is something I wish we didn’t have to do. It would be amazing to live in a world where being straight and being anything within the LGBTQ+ umbrella were equally common; where children weren’t shielded from the mere existence of homosexuality because parents perceive it as perverse.

Ultimately, coming out can be a monumental step in a person’s life. It is something that should be celebrated and does deserve its own day of recognition. However, it is also something that shouldn’t need to happen because it shouldn’t be so taboo to start with.