Why You Should Be Out

September 15, 2011

Some of you are wondering whether to come out of the closet.

You should come out.

Some of you are wondering whether to label yourself. “Gay, bi, lesbian, queer, experimenting… What’s the difference? I like who I like”.

You should label yourself.

Some of us can hide. We are stereotypically feminine, we like the things that we’re supposed to like (or we pretend well), or we have a very supportive inner network that will protect and cocoon us from the rest of the world.

True Blood's Queen Sophie-Anne: "I haven't enjoyed sex with men since the Eisenhower administration."

However, others don’t have that chance. They like wearing men’s clothes. Or they can’t restrain from kissing their girlfriends in public. Or they just want to take their wife and kids to a family picnic. The more of us stay inside the closet, the harder it will be for those that are forced out, by nature or by circumstance. We need to stay visible in order to keep the awareness that gay people exist and that it’s normal.

And with the importance of being out comes the importance of labels. If you don’t label yourself, you are seen as the “status quo”. Sure, you can argue that “but why does the world see me as heterosexual if I don’t say anything”, but that’s a moot point. Straight is the default option in most of our cultures. Maybe it will stop being the default if all of us keep reminding the society that it’s not the only option. Not to mention, if you don’t label yourself, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a label or that the old lady from around the corner won’t slap one on you.

Also, choosing a label (even if it’s something like, bicuriousexperimentingconfused) allows you to effectively communicate to the world what you are and where you’re going. Which is, of course, if you know where you are going.

I believe that being direct and open about your sexual identity is essential for your well-being and for your ability to be productive at work. An acquaintance that recently came out says she is no longer paranoid about what people think of her.

For workers who are not out at work, there might even be a wage penalty. A 2008 study from the Netherlands finds that, “Among gay/bisexual workers those with disclosed identity earn on average 8% more…. Independent of the specification used, the penalty for not being open… moves around the 5% [mark].”

It pays to be out on the job. And it pays to be out in your personal life.

At Pride This Year

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2 Responses to “Why You Should Be Out”

  1. pamelane said

    Couldn’t agree with you more. It’s confusing when we don’t label ourselves or even other people because that’s just how our brains organize life. Coming out to friends and family was the best thing I could do for myself, but coming out to myself and accepting myself was the most liberating experience ever.

    • Right, I guess there are two sides to this: “labeling” yourself makes it clear to others where you stand (visibility) but also makes it clear to YOU where you stand (self-knowledge). It’s very hard to understand your own emotions without classifying them in some way and sorting out what causes them and in which circumstances.

      By the way, I like your blog!

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