Earlier this summer, continuing an annual tradition, we invited Daily Hive Vancouver readers who identify as LGBTQ to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
The first of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2017 creatively parallels the homosexual experience with fairy tales and even Harry Potter.
Name: Jorin McSween
Imagine, if you will, that coming out is like a fairy tale (which isn’t that far off since you are, indeed, a fairy). You’ve spent your whole life locked in a tall tower and after years of strategizing, you’ve finally made your escape.
You repel down the castle wall and run gaily through the enchanted meadow which you’ve been dreaming of for years. You are breathing the fresh, blissful air of freedom.
Right then, a posse of mischievous, well-toned fauns frolic past and make you feel bad for being lumpy and hating exercise as much as you do.
You then encounter a troll who makes you answer three riddles and memorize a list of baffling sex acronyms before you may cross his bridge.
Then, Professor McGonagall shows up with the Sorting Hat to tell you which “tribe” you must market yourself as being a part of. (Cub, chub, twink, jock, etc.)
Whilst all of this is happening, people from the castle are hurling messenger pigeons at you with opinionated notes attached. Several of which feature foreboding anecdotes about unicorns who once also traipsed through the meadow but then got AIDS and died.
The whole experience is a sensory overload. Processing an abundance of new factors and perspectives while still reworking your own identity is a lot to take in.
I struggled not just with coming out, but with pushing through the pressures that came with it. I was fortunate enough to have had a supportive and loving network, but had not been prepared for navigating my loud-and-proud lifestyle.
Here are a few things that I wish I knew then but totally didn’t and thus spent several years biffing it pretty hard in life:
1. Not everyone deserves your time and consideration.
While it is very kind of your parents’ friend’s concerned brother-in-law to call you or send lengthy emails, you are not obligated to hear them out.
2. You don’t need to fit the stereotypes to be legitimate.
You do not need to go clubbing (which I hate) or be a gym monkey (which I am not) or use the word “YAAASSSS” all of the time (which I only started doing ironically but now cannot stop). You are allowed to be whomever you want to be, however you want to be. Really, isn’t that the point of coming out in the first place?
3. Dating in the gay community is horrible and may kill you.
Best of luck! (sarcasm alert)
4. You don’t need to assign yourself a “tribe”.
Don’t waste your time stressing out about whether you are too tall to be “an otter” or too slender to be “a bear”. Just be yourself as best you can. There are far better things to concern yourself with. (After years of contemplation, I’ve decided that should the day come where all gay men must legally register as animals, I will mark myself down as “a capybara”.)
5. Beware the “I Told You So’s”.
People seem to really enjoy flaunting that they “always knew”. As though this is their chance to prove how worldly and intuitive they are. To these people I say: “Thanks, tips! I’ve actually known for quite some time, too. Something about Chris O’Donnell in that pleather, 1997 Robin suit tipped me off. But I am SO GLAD that you crawled out from underneath your rock just to get all self-righteous about it.”
I am not an expert on how to be gay. I am too young, too foolish, and too bad of a dancer to be considered an authority on the subject. But I am living my life as an openly gay male with pride, and I feel so fortunate to be in a day and age that allows me to pursue my happily ever afters.
Daily Hive is a proud sponsor of the Vancouver Pride Society