As I’ve mentioned, I’m really out and proud about my identity, at least on my college campus. I really love this about myself and I’m very happy to be out the closet and content. However, as great as it, sometimes, just like everything else in life; it does have its disadvantages. With these recent realizations, I decided to make a pro and con list. I’m not suggesting that anyone go back into the closet, but I hope this might help someone considering coming out. If anything, I think it’ll be a great way to recognize one’s privilege.
1. Pro: Embracing your identity
I use the phrase “embracing your identity” all the time because I think it is a very life-changing thing to do. When you finally embrace your attractions or feelings; you live your true self and be unapologetically you. It might sound cheesy, but it’s awesome. Take my word for it.
2. Con: Fear of being ridiculed
The LGBTQIA+ Community needs allies for support because, by some people, we are still looked upon as sinful, weird, or just different. In a society where people just want to be “normal,” certain things put you at risk of being ridiculed. Examples include: walking around in clothes that express your identity, showing affection in a queer relationship in public, and practicing allyship in the wrong spaces. I’m not suggesting you don’t do these first two things; actually, I promote it. However, a con of being out and proud is being treated differently or sometimes risking your safety when doing these things. I suggest making sure that you are in safe spaces before choosing to do these things.
3. Pro: Finding community
A big advantage to being out and proud is finding a community of people who identify the same way or exist within the same community. This can make for a great support system of people to help with the struggles you may face with being out, but can similarly be a place where you don’t have to worry about them. While you certainly don’t have to even identify within the LGBTQIA+ Community to be part of a group of people who do, if you do identify, it’s a great group of people to surround yourself with.
4. Con: Dating can be hard
You might be thinking: “Well no, it’d be so much easier if you’re open about who you’re attracted to!” This definitely isn’t a reason not to come out, but it does present certain challenges. One of them that I only realized recently, as evident in movies such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is that there is almost a requirement to find someone who is also out. While there are plenty of people who are out, there are also plenty of people who are still in the closet. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone who is not as open as you are.
5. Pro: Education
The LGBTQIA+ Community is comprised of more than just lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning. There are so many different sexual and romantic orientations as well as gender identities. Being out and proud, there’s a good chance you’ll have a desire to educate yourself more; which can really make you more well-rounded and aware of the world around you.
6. Con: Labels
While I do not feel this way, some people believe that labels are a bad thing, especially because identity is oftentimes very fluid and static. When you’re out and proud, you may feel that you need to be out with a boxed term and be confined to it forever. This is totally untrue, but some may see this is as a con to coming out and being out.
As someone out and proud, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I definitely understand that there are pros and cons. However, I think it’s good to recognize the challenges and advantages of living this way. It is your choice how out you want to be, or if you want to come out at all. It’s your identity, and yours only.