The Unicorn is one of the mainstream symbols used by our queer community. However, I couldn’t find a sound explanation why this is so, other than the reason that the Unicorn is considered feminine and unique/rare, which are said to connote gay people, particularly gay men. Apparently, that is just ridiculous stereotyping and it isn’t really a valid representation of the entire queer community. In fact, if you were to study the legend behind this mystical animal, you would find that there is no relation of it to someone being gay.
Putting the Unicorn aside, I think it is more appropriate to use a symbol of a Butterfly. A parallel can be drawn between the metamorphosis that occurs for a Butterfly and the will it takes for a gay person to finally come out. Allow me to give a succinct explanation. There are 4 stages of a Butterfly’s growth: (1) egg (2) caterpillar (3) cocoon (4) Butterfly. Stages 1 to 3 represents the growth that we are undergoing while living inside that stuffy closet. For them, it’s all about eating, going unnoticed as much as possible, shedding their skin and camouflaging. For us, it’s all about hiding our sexuality and the 5 things I would be talking about in a while. The final stage signifies our development from being closeted to eventually opening those doors to gay freedom!
The life cycle of a Butterfly takes only about a couple of months, which is way shorter than how long it usually takes for us to come out. However, this is understandable since we humans typically make life more complicated. The closet is our comfort zone when we are confused and/or scared of our sexuality. However, instead of just wallowing in uncertainty and guilt, we have to dispell that fear by educating ourselves and, equally important, others as well. After all, this is one way of summoning courage to feel okay with your sexual orientation.
Now, before you let that picture on the left side happen to you, there are some things you should do while still lounging in that closet of yours. On the other hand, if you want to come out already as sexually ambiguous while doing the things below, that is perfectly fine too. To that, I say, “you go, girl!”
- Internet – We live in the Information Age. It is quite easy to access any kind of information we want through the glorious World Wide Web. We can find tons of websites that can help us understand all there is to know about the LGBTQI community. There is a plethora of online sources that provide information covering religion, politics, personalites, pop culture and other online news stream that are related to human sexuality. Here are some of my recommendations: Jenna Anne, Lizzy the Lezzy, Afterellen, Autostraddle, knowhomo, shewired, Zach Wahls’ speech, Graeme Taylor, and a whole lot more. Google is your best friend here.
- Films/TV/News – The media is not only for entertainment, but also for learning. Since it is a window to get a sense of the world out there, we watch to know that we are not alone and to learn about other gay people. Aside from the news, a lot of TV shows and movies are giving voice to the queer community nowadays. The entertainment and infotainment business are not always known for providing the whole picture of what goes on out there. Thus, media literacy is always key. We learn not only by soaking in knowledge like a sponge, but also filtering out information to find out what is true and what isn’t, as well as what is good and what isn’t.
- Books – Literature is, of course, essential to research. Again, as a testament to living in a free society (we should never take this for granted), there are a lot of fiction and nonfiction books that you can read on about gender and sexuality.
I share this advice for those of us who love to express ourselves by writing whether it be through diaries, journals or blogs. Writing can be therapeutic. Its process requires you to think, ponder and reflect. In this way, you get to evaluate and reevaluate things, and gradually, acquire a deeper sense of the world around you, who you are and what you stand for; all of which are important in finding the strenght to come out.
3. Date both genders
I have never dated guys since I’ve always been sure that I am not attracted to them. So, it has never crossed my mind to do some experiment in the straight world of dating. Yes, it wasn’t easy telling guys that I don’t feel the same way when they try to court. I know how sucky it feels to not have the person you want like you back. However, I’m the type of person who refuses to try something when I am already sure that I don’t like it. Although I said I was bisexual the first time I came out, I did that only to test the waters, to see what kind of reaction my friends would show towards me being “partially” gay. What can I say? I lied. Lies are always a part of the process of trying to come out. But now I don’t have to do that because my sexual orientation doesn’t matter to them.
So anyways, I do encourage closeted gay peeps to try dating both genders. I believe that some of us gay people need to get this out of our system and date in order to reach a 100% certainty of our sexual orientation. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t go on a dating spree and break a lot of people’s hearts, just because you don’t feel at ease with yourself yet. More importantly, if you must have sex, please be safe about it. There is already too much going on inside your closet. Don’t add STD and/or pregnancy into the mix
4. Find support
Sites that have helped me during my closeted days are Afterellen.com and Autostraddle.com. For our gay brothers, I believe Afterelton.com is a good website for online support, aside from learning about all things gay. There is also a lesbian Filipino site called lezworld.com.ph/forum, which has active members there.
As for the real world, you can find support in LGBT school organizations, LGBT groups, as well as friends and family members that are there for you no matter what. If you’re the I-don’t-give-a-damn-about-people-who-don’t-accept-me type, it may be easier for you to come out (to your friends at least), get rid of those fake, unsupportive people and find out who truly cares about you.
So, you have done all the reasearch, have dated people and have found a support group, what else? Reflect. Get a mirror, look at your reflection and admire your beauty. Bask in all its splendour. You know that scene in a movie when a character stares at her/his reflection in the mirror, deep into her/his own eyes, as if seeing her/himself for the first time? Well, do that. Or, if you prefer, without the mirror. Anyway, you get my point. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Sure, your sexual orientation is just a piece of the puzzle that is you. I’m not saying you have to reflect on it all day and night. However, in order to have peace with yourself, you need to figure out your sexuality. Don’t just ignore or deny it. There are already plenty of close-minded people out there. Don’t be one of them. Connect the dots of information and feelings you have now about being gay. Sometimes, we are in denial not because we don’t know, but because of the stigma that ignorant people have towards homosexuality that brings down our confidence on coming out. That’s why I put Research on #1. We need to be informed about it in order to be prepared of whatever uneducated opinions homophobes might throw at us.
Courage and knowledge are two important things to have in deciding to come out of the closet. Sometimes, courage is just a by-product of being educated. Please do Nos. 1 through 5 – lather, rinse then repeat – until you find within you the will to spread your colorful wings and fly. Do this not just for yourself, but for others as well. More people need to come out. More people need to be informed in order to see a progress in LGBTQI rights. In the present time, the fight for gay rights is obviously not over yet. Hence, being gay can be a political statement or stance, even if you don’t mean it that way. I get that some people are political, while others choose to be apolitical. There are valid reasons why many gay people stay in the closet. (e.g. might get killed, lose their job) However, what irks me about the closet issue is that some queers want to stay discreet about their sexuality because they believe that it is a part of their private lives. In reality though, it isn’t. Straight people profess their love, get married, get all feely-touchy in public, declare their heterosexuality without the fear of being discriminated against. The fact of the matter is, sexual orientation isn’t a private thing, no matter how much closet-loving queers want to justify that. If it were, then the whole LGBT movement is pointless.
Personally, I prefer truth and tough love than staying in the comfort of not knowing. It takes time. I know. It’s all right. Come out when you feel ready. But don’t live in the seemingly blissful lie of it.
It is my hope that you don’t stay in the cocoon all your life, sexy butterfly.