Why is there a need to validate our sexuality in this day and age? Why is there even a need to come out at all? Why can’t we just love who we want to love, be with whoever we want to be with? Why is it assumed that we’re all born heterosexual, with young girls being told that one day they’ll find their Prince; oblivious to the fact that for some it might actually be a Princess? Because it’s 2016 Ireland, and although people think we’ve made leaps and bounds since the Yes vote in the marriage referendum, we haven’t come that far yet.
We understand what it means to be straight, and we understand what it means to be gay. For decades we’ve been campaigning for gay rights, proclaiming that gay people were born this way and were not able to change their sexuality. Eventually, people began to accept that others were gay. They did not entirely understand it, but they got their head around the concept. Then along came bisexuality; people were finally comfortable coming out and admitting that they were attracted to more than one sex. There are many different sexualities out there, and it’s up to each individual to find one that fits their preference (or they may choose not to label themselves at all). We’re now aware that heterosexuality isn’t as “normal” as we once thought, so why is there still a need to say, “I’m gay.”?
After the success of the marriage referendum, some may think that the process of coming out is way too dramatized. That it shouldn’t be a case of proclaiming, “Look at me, I’m different!” When really, nobody actually cares and you’re not that different at all. It seems that now, if you come out people are thinking “What’s the fuss about?” Because it’s just another gay, bisexual or queer person. We know so many of them now, and that’s amazing. Coming out should not be dramatic, nobody wants it to be. But for many people, it is.
As much as we like to tell ourselves that the world is a kind, loving and accepting place, sometimes it just isn’t. Yes, people have become more accepting of the LGBTQ community since the marriage referendum, but we still have a long way to go. People seem to forget that, although our generation are overwhelmingly accepting, some of the older generation are still alive, kicking and not too happy about same-sex relationships. There are parents out there with a “not on my doorstep” attitude, and small town syndrome is still prevalent all over the country.
When young people come out these days, it can still be dramatic. They go into it knowing that they could lose some of their best friends and closest family members, and for some of them, they do. You might think it’s not that big of a deal because your family voted Yes in the marriage referendum, but for some people coming out, it’s a huge deal. And granted that it all goes well, that your family say they still love you and your friends couldn’t care less: if you’ve waited 23 years to come out and you’re finally comfortable with your sexuality, it’s a big thing. You should be able to celebrate that without complaints that you’re making a fuss.
There have head shaking and sighs about LGBTQ people throwing their gayness in your face since the beginning of time. What started with “I don’t mind gays, but I hate when they flaunt it” has turned to the likes of “I’m not judging you because you’re gay, I’m judging you know because you’re talking about it on social media” as time has gone by. And what that boils down to is this; you are flaunting your non heterosexual sexuality by coming out and being visible. By having a presence, and letting people know that, “Hello, I’m Laura. I’m 26, I’m a nurse, and I’m gay.”
Ask an LGBTQ person about why they make such a big deal out of their same-sex relationship and you’ll get the same answer as you would from any heterosexual couple. When you’re in a relationship with somebody, they become a big part of your life. You’re proud of the person they are, you want to show them off and show others that you are together. It’s normal.
It’s not about flaunting anything. It’s wanting to show affection to your partner, to let them know that you appreciate and care about them. It’s about kissing them goodbye outside of the car, rather than hiding away inside. It’s about being comfortable holding your partners hand in public, just because you want to be close to them. It’s not a statement, and it shouldn’t be.
Ideally, we would love to live in a world where nobody had a problem with the LGBTQ community. But unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. This is why people still feel the need to “come out”, to label themselves and this is why sometimes the process is still quite dramatic. We don’t want it to be, but in reality, it is. And until there comes a time where we have complete acceptance of the LGBTQ community, some feel that they have to ensure they are visible. That they can say, we’re here; we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual, and whatever else. They still have to remind people that they exist.
The generation below us need to see that LBGT people are here, that LBGT people are visible, and most importantly that LGBT people are normal. They need to have someone to relate to, whether it’s a family friend or a famous Youtuber that they can identify with. With visibility comes the breaking of stereotypes, like the camp gay man and the big butch lesbian. It can only get better from here, but we have to be patient.
As much as we all want coming out to be a thing of the past, we need to respect that for some people it’s still a huge deal. Until it’s a thing of the past, the LGBTQ community will still feel the need to validate their sexuality. Because once upon a time, they had somebody they looked up to and thought, “He/she is just like me.” Maybe they want to help somebody too.