When I came out, it was hard at first to know that people were talking about me, to know that people who were only mildly affiliated with my life were probably chatting with other people who also were only mildly affiliated with my life and saying things like, “did you hear Molly Sprayregen is gay now?”
I’m not trying to be vain. I’m just being realistic because I, too, have had those conversations about people I didn’t know that well. And now that I’m on this side of it, I am starting to wonder why we all care. Sure, when it is someone who is close to you, it matters, but when it is someone you once knew in high school or a girl you haven’t seen in years, does it?
It wasn’t embarrassment that made me feel so odd when a friend would tell me some acquaintance asked her about my recent revelation because she’d heard I’d come out. It just made me uncomfortable to know I’d become a topic of conversation.
Most of the time, these people probably didn’t remember I existed unless I happened to grace their newsfeeds, and now suddenly, simply because I had started to date girls, they found me interesting. What about that made me so much more worthy of gossip? Why did that change in my life effect people who were not even a part of it?
It isn’t that those people aren’t accepting, but it is as if, once they find out, they have to take a step back, look me up and down, stroke their chins a few times, and reevaluate the way they think of me. The funny part is most of them probably didn’t think of me any way at all before.
When I picture the way people throw those types of comments into their conversations, I can’t help but feel like what I am going through becomes devalued–my entire gut-wrenching journey shrunk down to a quick “omg” moment over brunch.
When I launched my blog, the messages I received directly were from people appreciating my writing and what I had to say. Some messages my friends and family received were, “Oh my God I didn’t know Molly was gay! How could you not have told me?” People have this notion that they deserve to be informed when someone they know decides they are going to do something that doesn’t fit into their heteronormative world, like a person’s coming out is a piece of news that everyone has a right to obtain. My coming out was not a secret, but it was also not something about which I felt everyone affiliated with me should be methodically informed. I’m talking about the people I’d never call up if I had a boyfriend, people I’d never call up to tell about an exciting achievement or invite over for dinner.
Sometimes when I don’t mention that I’ve come out during a conversation, it feels like I’m telling a lie. Because we live in this world where I’m expected to alert everyone about it, even when I am with people with whom I’d never under normal circumstances discuss my love life. No heterosexual pauses a conversation to let the other person know that she dates boys. No heterosexual tells friends and family members she barely talks to when there is a change in her romantic life. Why should I have to?
It is okay to talk about me coming out when it is for a productive reason, but when it is simply a juicy piece of information to share, I just don’t get why its something people I’m not close with need to be discussing.
I want people to talk about me coming out when it helps them understand something about being gay that they didn’t before. I want people to talk about me coming out if it helps someone struggling with her sexuality learn not only to accept, but to love herself. I want people to talk about me coming out when it is to say how excited they are for me that I am one giant step closer to finding true happiness and true love. I do not want people to talk about me coming out when it is nothing more than a slice of gossip on the side of their morning coffee.