Going out, by coming out


Elizabeth Chin, Staff Columnist

Welcome, everyone, to my last column. Over the course of my time reflecting on my adolescence through this column, I have had the unique opportunity to share pieces of myself with all of you. Now that my high school career, and thus my column, is coming to an end, I want to leave you with one final insight: the conclusion to my exposé.

In a world that frequently tells you who you are and who you are not, it can be difficult to solidify an understanding of your own identity and even more difficult to share that identity. Over the last six years of my life, coming to terms with being bisexual was confusing, and the thought of coming out was even more daunting.

One day in seventh grade, my dad took me to the Natick mall. We sat down at a table on the central, elevated food platform. As I took a crisp bite out of my macaron, he asked me the simple question, “Are you bi?”

My eyes glazed over hiding all emotion. I blurted out, “No.” That wasn’t the truth, but why would he ask me such a question? What did he know? How did he know?

My confusion quickly turned to frustration over the next few days as his words sunk in. I had only started questioning my sexuality a couple months earlier, and I had thought that no matter what happened, coming out would be on my own terms. I had been told over and over again by friends that I did not owe anyone a label or an answer. In that split second, my dad had taken away the one thing I had control over. My sexuality turned into a secret.

Two years later, I was entering high school, my sister was headed to college, and my brother was going to boarding school. I no longer wanted to hide from them, and the clock was ticking. When I told my siblings, I still did not have a label for myself; I only knew I wasn’t straight. After revealing I was “either the L or B in LGBTQ,” my brother cringed. I was the only one of us to challenge the unspoken heteronormativity in our household. In the following months, he made jokes such as, “I’m not weird like that fruity stuff,” and “Yo, are you still gay?”

In a way, he weaponized my sexuality, but I still knew he didn’t mean harm, and he eventually realized his provocative comments weren’t entertaining. My sister, on the other hand, just smiled and said she had already suspected it. Although neither of them could relate, they both accepted me and continued to simply see me as their little sister. The walls I had built started to come down.

Then came the formidable task of telling my parents. After the incident in seventh grade, I never wanted to have that conversation with them. I had known for a long time that they already knew; I wasn’t averse to telling them because I feared they wouldn’t accept me, but because I knew it would be uncomfortable. In the end, my parents ultimately “found out” through my Common Application essay. My parents and I never talked about it. Although I had included just a small mention of my sexuality in my college essay, it took a while for me to build the nerves to include that for them to read. I guess, in the end, my sleep deprivation and stress from senior fall helped me get over the “caring” part. If there was one good thing to come out of the college process, it was this. With my parents out of the way, I felt I was in a really great place. Everyone I wanted to know knew.

Then, at the same time this fall, I found out someone close to me had been outing me to other people. As I have mentioned, the idea of “coming out” has been key in dictating my own story. I think being outed is devastating and cruel in any scenario, but in my situation— having it come from one of the few people I had trusted with that part of myself—I was not just angry, but heartbroken.

After years of tearing down the walls I hid behind, I felt the need to take shelter again. I lost control just as I did back in seventh grade. In fact, I didn’t even lose control; I was stripped of my prerogative. I felt my sexuality had been turned against me just like with my brother.

Truly, it was a time of emotional overload. I was understandably disheartened and anxious, but I didn’t put my walls back up, even though I wanted to. Instead, I realized that it was one person, among many who, well, didn’t do that, and I wasn’t going to let this one person stop me from being happy. I wouldn’t allow them that much more power. It’s safe to say now that I’ve learned how to deal with adversity surrounding identity since my earlier years.

In my final column, I give you my coming out. And, now that I think about it, my entire column has been a series of coming outs. Although other parts of my identity perhaps don’t have as crucial real estate in my being, they’re all parts of me. We’re all made up of unique little and big traits. Any time we share a piece of ourselves, we are letting ourselves be vulnerable, but at the same time, we’re opening up to the possibility of connection and understanding. I hope that you all can look at your own closets of secrets and consider cracking the door ajar. Writing this exposé has helped me realize that the aspects of myself that I used to keep hidden are some of the best parts of myself: some of the parts most worth sharing.