Why I Came Out

Pride Month seems to be accompanied by the inevitable discussion of “why?”, including why Queer people feel the need to come out at all. The reasons to come out, or not, are probably as varied as the individuals that have chosen to do so, but I thought I’d share my own rationale, and why I continue to talk about being ace, even though I’m married and it’s presumably none of your business.

For me, coming out helped me feel more cemented in my sense of self. And helped me feel like I was being honest and open with friends and family (and the occasional stranger because that’s how the internet works). I gained a stronger sense of who I was and a confirmation that that was valid and good.

I also wanted to be a living, breathing example of a queer, ace Mormon because at the time, I didn’t know any. I wanted to give others a role model that I wish I’d had. And I wanted to give my friends and family another person that they know that’s queer.

That’s probably at the core of why I continue to talk about being ace and what it means to me. It’s still a huge part of how I connect to the world and describes elements of my experience that I don’t know how else to describe. My ace identity, like all queerness and all sexual orientations and gender identities, is about far more than my sexual behaviors. It’s a fundamental part of how I connect to and relate to the world.

Related to all of that, is that I think coming out is a way of pushing back against the continuing heteronormative culture we all live in. Essentially, that means that we tend to assume that someone is straight, until proven otherwise. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be alienating and exhausting for those that aren’t straight. Everyone is assuming something about you that isn’t true and it feels like they don’t really know you or like they’re talking about someone else. So, you come out. You tell people that you’re different than this assumed norm. And suddenly, you can be yourself. You are living more authentically, more truthfully.

I hate being misunderstood and before I came out, I lived my entire life with people defaulting to misunderstanding me.

It’s like when a counselor in my bishopric always called me “Colin”, no matter how many times I corrected him (he even set me apart for a calling as “Colin Hilton”…). Or when Lithuanians assumed I was Japanese and absolutely refused to believe me when I insisted I was American, with English and Irish ancestry (don’t ask me why). Or when people think I’m a conservative farmer who loves potatoes because I grew up in Idaho (ok that last part is true, I ADORE potatoes). Or when more orthodox believers and zealous former believers assume that I don’t understand some point of Mormonism when I tweet certain things (trust me, I’ve almost definitely read whatever you’re sending me and have thought long and hard about things).

Being ace and queer is like all of those things. A part of who I am that runs deep and is inextricable from the other parts. So, to be me and to be honest and filled with integrity in my interactions with my friends and family, I came out. And continue to come out, all the time.

Maybe some day assumptions about other’s sexuality won’t be common place. But until then, come out and live your life. Though remember, coming out is for you and you alone. You don’t owe anyone coming out and if you can’t or don’t want to for any number of reasons, don’t. Your identity is yours and you are in charge of how it helps you connect to the world around you, if sharing it will help, share, if not, don’t.

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