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National coming out day
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Apparently today is national coming out day. Now quite apart from the fact that I'm not sure of which nation it's meant to be national to but have a suspicion it isn't mine, I generally find such events to be trite. Surely every day should be coming out day? Whenever anyone feels up to coming out, they should do so, and they should never feel pressure to do so before they are ready. And yet...

Well, before we go on, I suppose I ought to get this out in the open: I'm not entirely straight. Is that a surprise to anyone? No. Good. Let's carry on.

There are things I don't really talk about very often. I remember a post that elmyra made a few months back. In it she talked of queer rights and asked "Are you doing your bit?" and I was forced to conclude that I wasn't doing as much as I could.

See, my logic has always been that I will act as if everything in my life is completely normal and unremarkable. To me, it is. If something is relevant to the conversation at hand, then I will mention it; if it's not relevant, I won't make a big deal out of it. This is similar to the fact that I have brown hair. It is not something I hide, but nor is it something I shout from the rooftops. This is how I feel that my gender and sexuality should be. Just a basic fact of life of who I am. Of course, it isn't that simple.

I remember particularly one incident from several years back. That was back whe I was still active on Usenet. I was a regular and respected poster on rec.games.roguelike.adom. One day, I was making a post there along the lines of "you know you've been playing to much ADoM when..." It was some vaguely amusing anecdote about how I'd been doing something completely unrelated to ADoM and had it brought to mind anyway. I forget the exact details. Anyway, at some point in this post, I mentioned the phrase "my girlfriend".

There was someone who responded to this in a most put out fashion. He was quick to point out that he didn't mind that I was gay, of course, but was affronted that I was so eager to shove it down his throat. See, in his world, the only reason why I would possibly ever want to mention my girlfriend was if I was making a big song and dance over being a lesbian. It quite simply never occured to him that I might want to just mention an important part of my personal life in passing because it was important to me, or because it was relevant to the issue at hand. And I'm quite certain he wouldn't have noticed anything untowards if I'd said "boyfriend" or "partner" in place of "girlfriend".

Fortunately for me, many of the other people on the group recognised exactly that point and were quick to jump to my aid, but the incident stayed with me. To many people, being gay is not a crime, but ever wanting to talk about it or in any way display it where others can see is. You're fine, so long as you keep quiet and stay hidden. The sorts of things that most people justifiably take for granted can be off limits.

And of course, this happened in a community of geeks (I mean really, is it possible to get geekier than discussing roguelike games on Usenet without involving a Star Fleet uniform and a pair of fake pointy ears?) and geeks, in my experience, tend to be tolerant, not out of any sort of moral or ethical conviction, but because they just don't care. Worrying about someone's sexuality just gives you less time to be concerned over more important things like their OS choice or their collection of polyhedral dice. Yet even among geeks, there was still someone who spoke up to put me in my place. Sure, it all ended well, but things like that are tiring.

Essentially, every time I open my mouth to in some way reveal myself as queer to people who don't already know, then I'm setting myself up for something potentially unpleasant. Of course, often it doesn't come. A lot of the time, people are fine and accepting and really couldn't give a crap. But there's always the possibility there. And me? I'm just human. My energy reserves are limited. I don't always have the strength or the will to fight the good fight. When it's just people who aren't important to me, especially ones I'm not likely to see again, it's often easier to just avoid the issue entirely. They don't need to know. Why chance it?

Of course, it provides its own reason. Queer people of all varieties have to go about their lives as if everything is normal so that other people can see that it is normal. I believe that only when something is perceived as unremarkable can it truly be accepted. This is why I do my best to never try to hide any aspect of who I am. I don't always manage, but I try.

Also, in the spirit of this post by wearemany (who I don't know, but a couple of people linked to) if there's anything you want to know but have been afraid to ask, go ahead and ask here. I expect you all to be accepting; I do not expect you all to be knowledgable. I particularly encourage questions about anything transgender related, or anything that is specifically about me. If you have any questions about any general gay type stuff, then I'll do my best to answer those too. And if I can't, for one reason or another (my experiences regarding sexuality or all heavily influenced by gender related stuff), then I'm quite sure I can find someone who will be able to answer for you. If you feel more comfortable that way, I've temporarily enabled anonymous comments and disabled IP logging.

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For what it's worth, I've seen a couple of friends use Coming Out Day to provide the all-important[1] excuse to rise the issue of Queerness with their loved-ones. I daresay it has arbitrary-date value, for the chronic procrastinators, too.


[1] In the ironic sense. Clearly in abstract terms it's totally unimportant, but when you're a scared little teenage wossname and the carry-on-as-normal policy has the fatal flaw that, in the absence of a partner for exmple, it is never specifically relevant, these things can be useful for Raising The Issue without Ramming It Down Their Throats[2].

[2] Which is exactly how the traditional, "Mum, Dad, we need to talk [...] I'm, er, I... I'mattractedtopeoplewithbrownhair *run* *wheese* *hide*" type thing can be percieved.

That post is very cool. As, in many ways, is yours. See, I can't, really, follow it up. I'm 95% straight, but a fair number of friends are either bi or gay, and, well, meh, they're my friends. I just don't care.

Maybe I could do something about being non-practicing poly (in the whole "single for best part of 3 years so in what way does figuring out I'm poly help anyway kida way?" sense), but most of my friends know anyway and it really matters not to me one way or another.

Ultimately, the guy that kicked up a stink on Usenet is an arse. The biggest regret I have in modern society is that there are so many like him.

Worrying about someone's sexuality just gives you less time to be concerned over more important things like their OS choice or their collection of polyhedral dice.

Truer words have never been spoken; thou art, ma'am, a veritable queen amongst geeks ;-)

I have this terrible urge to enquire whether you have any 30-sided dice. :-)

Alas, no. I'm fairly sure that I have dice of all the platonic solids (D4, D6, D8, D12, D20) somewhere, but I don't know where and nor do I have any more exotic ones. I don't think.

Do you run into the same problem I do? I belong to enough minorities that I just can't take the time to advocate for them all... and I certainly can't be a poster-girl for most/any of them, since I'm not representive of any of them because I have so many other things that make me an unusual FOO.

Religion: that's a mess we won't even go into
Sexuality: Straight and poly
Disability: Straddling the line of invisible versus visible and generally accepted, but still misunderstood and not really accepted or understood but severe regardless ... physical, but the physical causes problems that look a whole lot like psychological disabilities
Abuse survivor (survivor feels like the wrong word, but it is the trendy one, and I don't feel like coming up with my own. I was abused, and now I'm not.)
Sex: Female... okay that's a crap minority. It might even be the majority. But sometimes people want me to support it like a minority, and I'm probably not doing my part to ... oh whatever

And then, of course, there is supporting differences that I don't have. I'm white (the nice way of saying extremely pale), but that doesn't mean racism isn't a serious issue, just because I avoid most of the worst bits of it. And there's agism. Oh, and I'm fairly thin, but lots of people do get treated badly because of their weight, and sometimes that can be an extremely serious issue. I'm not sure of my handedness, but has prejudice against lefties died down enough that I can let that one go? I mean, I do write with my right hand because I was told to, and that was within my lifetime (obviously) - so, is it safe, or do I just not see it?

I am not a feminist. I am not a disability-rights activist. I am not a queer rights activist.

I am an equalist. I believe in equal rights for all humans. At least, I do my best to. And I'll do my best to support that. I don't have the time or energy to try to slice it up into all the little bits. Maybe it is often more productive to work on a slice, but we also need people to stand up for the whole, because once we fix one slice, we tend to slice up a new way to divide people into better/worse.

Oh, and I'm a human. In case anyone was wondering.

Oh, absolutely. The standard sort of poster child thing seems to be along the lines of "Look at me! I may be $minority but apart from that I'm perfectly normal just like you!" Which I'm not. I'm perfectly normal just like me, but for the people who need to have that sort of thing demonstrated, that often doesn't cut it. Of course people who are (to pick one at random) depressed are just like other people. And other people include people who are poly or people who are transgender or whatever. But for people who just aren't familiar with any of these ideas, it's more helpful for them to see them separated so as they don't conflate one with the others.

And as for advocacy, I try to always be an advocate for any of my minorities when I can. And I try to be an advocate for other minorities when I can. But I really don't have nearly enough energy to do everything I might want to. So I end up picking my battles. And that makes me sad, in a way, because I'd like to be able to fight more of them. Ultimately, though, I know it's the best I can manage, so I'm content.

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