New Post on Medium: “Weight Loss Didn’t Make Me Feel Beautiful”

I talked about a conversation with a guy on a gay dating app that sparked some body image issues that I have, how they started, and how I feel about my body, today.

Here’s a little teaser to get you excited about it:

“With the weight of this continuous journey on my shoulders as some jackass on Scruff tells me that “240 is too much,” I felt myself snap. It was like he was looking into the eyes of my middle school self, and confirming the voices that implied I was ugly. Imagine having the nerve to tell someone recovering from those issues “don’t take it personally,” when it has always been personal. I might not be 240 pounds, but I’m scared to death of going back to that weight. Though there is nothing wrong with being overweight, the insecurities about my own body run so deep, that even something as simple as missing a workout makes me feel like my body is inflating all over, again. I feel like I’m going back to the days when people only saw my weight, and used that as a factor to determine that I was worthless. I was not beautiful to them, internally or externally; I was a conglomeration of fat cells over an empty soul.”

Check out the article here!

Empty Wells

Coffee shop productive (in post)
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I’m just going to blurt out a bunch of stuff that I’m thinking because I’ve been super unproductive and I need to at least write SOMETHING this week that makes me feel like I haven’t been incredibly lazy (when it comes to writing, at least. I know I’ve been working hard in other realms of my life.) I’ve been waking up about two hours later than I normally have been, and I feel like that’s been spiraling into how I run the rest of my days, and I’ve honestly been hating it. I used to be great at just getting myself out of bed, but lately, I’ve been like “eh, let’s close our eyes for another 5 minutes,” which then somehow turns into another hour and a half. I can’t say I’m proud of this, but I try to give myself the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that my body needs that extra sleep. For what reason? I don’t know, but listening to your body is important. However, I now feel like my body is taking advantage of me.

I have writing projects I know I need to get done, but like most of the writing projects I’ve been working on, there’s a fair amount of emotion that goes behind it, and those emotions haven’t been easy to confront. I keep thinking “is it too soon to write about this?” But those thoughts are so often combatted with “if I don’t write about it now, then the feelings just won’t be the same.” Which, I guess both are true, but all in all, I feel like this is all just a subconscious excuse to stall. Why am I stalling? What is there to wait for? I’m not getting to success any faster by staring at a mostly blank word document and hoping I can get words to appear. I have to put the work in, and I have to do whatever it takes to just get that work done.

But…of course, there’s another side to that. These last few weeks, I haven’t been in the mental headspace of allowing myself some relaxation. About a month ago, I was doing well at telling myself “okay, just ONE episode of Jessica Jones, and then you have to get to work,” and that was keeping me on a pretty good track. Lately, every moment of my day has been filled with me thinking “okay, you have to do this right after you’re done Twitch streaming, today,” and subsequently, trying to fill every moment of my day with trying to stay productive. It’s kind of been driving me crazy. Sometimes I feel like my mind is just trying to tell me to stop, relax, and give myself a damn break before getting into the work I need to do. Maybe I need to listen to that.

But it’s hard, because I also feel like I haven’t been productive, despite organizing and running a month-long charity campaign on my Twitch channel for The Trevor Project (which is still happening), which alone has been enough work to be considered a job. When I’m not working on that, I’m sitting in front of my computer, trying to be productive by sheer willpower (with little to no results), so lately, there hasn’t really been a moment where I’m just…relaxing, simply for the sake of it. I’ve valued balance for so much of my life, and now, I’m trying to sweep that under the rug. Maybe that’s been a detriment, a product of the environment I was raised around that doesn’t agree with my brand of adulthood. I was taught that being busy means being productive, and that relaxation was a privilege granted when you’ve been busy enough to earn it. While I believe in staying busy to be productive, I also heavily value my time where all I’m doing is something that requires little to no productive effort. Though, whatever the reason is, I know me best, and losing touch of that has started to make me slip into a version of myself that’s hindering progress.

I don’t like being my own worst enemy, but as a content creator, that can just be part of the job description. For so long, I’ve fought between “I just want to relax for a bit” and “I’m not being productive enough,” and I’m realizing I need to finesse that combination in order to create some progress. I sometimes punish myself for taking breaks when I know I have a lot to do, and for sleeping in when I wanted to be up earlier, but maybe that’s part of what’s hindering, well, everything. I put this pressure on myself to hopefully avoid the pressure someone else may put on me, but I’m starting to feel like I’ve been going about it the wrong way. Willing myself to squeeze words onto a word document, when all my body wants is just forty-five minutes to escape reality, might be what’s drying the well of productivity to the point of cracking. A moment to just breathe might be what I need in order to re-fill it.

I guess this is when someone would say “treat yo self.” Make sure you’re treating yourself for the hard work that you do, because you deserve little rewards throughout your week. Keep yourself motivated, and know when the well is empty. Find healthy ways to fill that well. Kick ass. Repeat.

Let’s Get Therapeutic

tim-goedhart-334149-unsplash
Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

So, I value authenticity and transparency in a lot of situations. Because of that, I’d like to keep it real with y’all. One, because I don’t want to be ashamed about what I’m about to talk about, and two, because I don’t want you to have to feel ashamed if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. So, well, here it goes.

I’m starting therapy, today.

A lot of people may read that and think “oh no! He must really not be doing well,” and some others might think “good for you, it’s awesome that you’re aware enough to know you need help with some of these issues!” And, well, both would be correct.

The thing is, I’m not doing well. For all intents and purposes, I’m doing okay, but there are a lot of anxious thoughts that get so overwhelming, that I eventually just start sobbing. I can only avoid thinking about them for so long before they come back up (on full blast) and start affecting my life in a way that harms productivity, and simply being able to just exist without feeling a crippling amount of feelings. No matter how logically I try to rationalize against my anxieties, the anxious thoughts always win, even though the logic could be absolutely spot on. But heck, it hasn’t even been a year since I lost my mom, I’m starting a whole new career that has no set step-by-step process for success, and I’m navigating the world of dating in the face of all of this grief. Who could blame me for being this anxious?

At the same time, it’s pretty amazing to finally just admit to myself that this is the step I need to take in order to feel more empowered. I’m such a mouthpiece for mental health, and I’m always preaching the message that you need to take care of yourself before you can make progress in your life, or take care of others, and it feels good to be doing something that I know will do that, for me. I’d always been a little hesitant about it, because I grew up feeling like having emotions made me broken, or that not doing well meant that I should be avoided. The several amount of times I heard people in my family say “leave him/her alone, they’re cranky” contributed to that heavily, and I don’t want to have that fear of loneliness due to what I’m feeling, anymore. I don’t want to feel pitied, and then left alone to figure out how to put myself back together.

It’s okay to not feel okay, and it’s okay to need professional help when it gets to be too much.

It’s like having a scab. It’s there, and you may not feel the pain in that scab all the time, but that doesn’t mean the wound isn’t there. For so long, I thought that maybe I was fine because I had gone a while without having really intense anxious thoughts. But like logic would have it, the anxiety just kept getting worse. This last week has been the worst I ever felt, and I can’t imagine what it would be like if it were to be any more unbearable than it is, right now. I don’t know what this appointment has in store for me, and I realize that all my problems won’t go away with just one session, but it feels amazing knowing I’m starting the healing process.

I’m talking about all of this because I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t get help. When we physically get hurt, we have no hesitations about going to the doctor. It’s so normal, so routine, and you only bat an eye at it because it’s a little scary to see your body in ways it doesn’t normally look. Mental health, like physical health, should not go untreated. If you feel like something is wrong, there’s no shame in making an appointment for therapy and seeing what they can do for you. You shouldn’t have to get to the point where your own thoughts make it hard for you to feel happy.

Thank you for listening. If it would help you to hear more about this journey, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m mostly doing this for myself, but if my experience in therapy can help anyone else, I would be willing to talk more about it in the future.

Getting Published is Hard

 Source: Dan Meth via Buzzfeed
Source: Dan Meth via Buzzfeed

Whoops, that title is a bit misleading. I’m not actually published right now, but I’m in the process of trying to get published! And like most things that we really want to accomplish in life, it isn’t easy, emotionally AND mentally (and maybe just a little physically tiring, but only due to the emotional and mental exhaustion.)

I submitted Stained, a story I shared with you all on here, as well as an academic non-fiction piece I wrote three years ago on Silent Hill 2, and how the childhood innocence of two characters is what protected them throughout the game. The teacher whose class I wrote it for (who also happens to be my absolute favorite college professor) told me I should submit it, because she thought it was amazing! I mean, I did put a lot of thought and analysis into that one, and the fact that  she loved it was flattering enough to where I felt it was time to send it in, and try to make it a star. 

Of course, the process of trying to get a piece of writing published isn’t just as easy as throwing a word document into cyberspace (I mean, I guess it can be, though? Anything is possible!) I had to review both submissions for basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, as well as have my Silent Hill 2 paper reviewed by another set of eyes (thanks, Kasie!) Then, you have to write a query letter to sum up what you’re trying to do with the written piece. After all that, you get to wait for the dreaded email back, which could take MONTHS, to tell you whether or not they like your piece enough to publish it. The first time I submitted a piece of writing for publication, I think it took them six months to get back to me. Six months of dread does not do your psyche any good, but alas, this is the life of a writer.

That feeling you get right after you submit a piece of writing for publication 😬 welp, it happened. Now we wait.

A post shared by Jeffrey Brutlag (@ageekinthecommunity) on

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Aside from the hit to the psyche, what matters most is that I did it. I submitted works of mine that I’m very proud of, and made one more step in the right direction as far as becoming a published writer. Since this was such a big goal that I set myself for 2017, I barely even notice the dread I feel about whether or not they’ll accept my pieces, because I’m still on the high of actually clicking that “submit” button. It’s been years since I’ve tried submitting something else to a literary magazine, so finally getting back into it really ignited the fire in me to keep creating more written pieces that I can be proud of! (Though in reality, some might end up being garbage. Yay, being an artist!)

I think this is something that a lot of us can struggle with, when it comes to achieving goals. It’s not that we don’t want to accomplish our goals, but the desire to reach them, and the actually process of getting them done are two very different things. Saying we want something to happen gives us the energy to do it, and maintains the desire for the goal to actually happen, but the real satisfaction comes from actually doing the work. I felt so much better about the process of getting published after actually working on it, knowing that what I’m doing is what I need in order to succeed. Despite knowing it may not be easy, sort of like how I know getting published won’t be easy, doing the work and not worrying about the difficulty is really what matters in accomplishing your goals. It’s easy to get swept away in the daydream of succeeding, and though the daydream may be a necessary step, pulling ourselves into reality to make those dreams come true is where things truly get magical.

When you’re working toward a goal, what are some steps you take in order to motivate yourself to do the work in order to achieve it? Let’s get motivational in the comments! 

And My Descent into Insanity has Begun (Aka: National Novel Writing Month)

Okay, so maybe not literal insanity, but definitely some resemblance of it.

But yes! National Novel Writing Month has started! I’m so excited to be working on a novel, and this time of the year is definitely a great way to get motivated! Essentially, the goal for all the participants of NaNoWriMo is to get to 50,000 words by the end of the month, which isn’t necessarily a full novel, but is definitely a giant start. I’ve participated twice before, and only succeeded one of those times, so let’s hope I can do that again.

I’m so pumped about this event, that I wore this shirt on the first day:

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There has never been a more honest shirt, out there. 

As I’m writing this, it’s day two of this month of non-stop writing, having written only 506 words on the first day. But hey, this is fine! I’ve got time, and given I work 40 hours a week and have obligations at home, even just starting is a great step! It would be nice if I could meet that daily word goal of 1,667, but life happens, so we just gotta roll with the punches and work harder when we have the time!

Something I’ll be trying to do this month is specifically set time to write a few times a week, time where I won’t go out with friends, get interrupted by TV, and just write. What I’ve learned is that, if you take your independent creative projects seriously, and set the time aside for them as if it was an actual job, then those around you will also take it seriously. Incorporating that into this goal of getting to 50,000 words by the end of the month is definitely something that will help, not just for times like this, but in a life of content creating, in general.

For all those out there who are participating, I bid you good luck, and an endless flow of coffee/caffeinated beverages of your choice! Even if you don’t get to 50k words, at least you started! Starting is the hardest part, and that’s what this month is all about. No need to feel discouraged if you don’t reach the goal; you already achieved something huge just by jumping into it!

If you’d like to be writing buddies with me, here’s my NaNoWriMo profile! I’d love to see what everyone is writing during this crazy (but exciting) month. 

Also, if you want to see snippets of my novel as I’ve been writing it, please feel free to become a patron via my Patreon page! I’m doing a ~special~ where $3+ patrons will get all snippets/NaNoWriMo related content during the month of November, that way it’s a little cheaper (it’s usually $5 a month for sneak peeks of my work) to be a part of. Don’t feel obligated, though! Your support would be very much appreciated, but not required!

And lastly (sorry about all these plugs!) if you’d like to know what kind of content I’ll be posting during the month of November due to National Novel Writing Month being a thing, check out my latest video!

 

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone! It’s guaranteed that we’ll all go a little bit insane during this month, but be sure to take breaks when necessary to avoid a total descent into that abyss. Again, no guarantees. 

Meeting Celebrities at Phoenix Fan Fest!

I made the last minute decision to go to Phoenix Fan Fest this past weekend, and I’m beyond happy that I made that I did! I wasn’t sure how to feel about it at first since it doesn’t get as much press as Phoenix Comicon (which is another local convention that I’ve attended a few times), but I figured since David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things would be there, as well as Brett Dalton and Elizabeth Hendstridge from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, the event had to be at least somewhat close to the quality of Phoenix Comicon (which I thoroughly enjoyed). So alas, I rallied up a few friends and we headed out to Fan Fest!

 Da Phoenix Fan Fest Crew! Me, Tori, and Maddy! 
Da Phoenix Fan Fest Crew! Me, Tori, and Maddy! 

 

It was definitely way less hectic than it was at Phoenix Comicon. Most of the events/panels were located in the east half of the convention center (I don’t think anything Fan Fest-related even happened in the other half), and there was significantly less people at this convention than there normally is at Phoenix Comicon (way less than half, that’s for sure). I wasn’t really surprised, since this event didn’t seem to get as much press as other conventions, but it was definitely a plus to not have to barrel roll our way through crowds of Harley Quinns, Overwatch heroes, and Deadpools just to get through one door. 

The exhibitor’s hall was less impressive than I was expecting, but it was combined with the autograph booth area for the celebrity guests, as well as the area for interactive displays (the combination most likely as a result of the event being much smaller than large-scale conventions). However, the one thing I DID appreciate in this exhibitor’s hall was the ratio to people selling handmade goods/art to stores or companies selling mass-produced products. I feel like every other booth I saw was an artist selling prints or a stitcher selling hand-sewn plushes, and I appreciated that these exhibitors seemed to be highlighted way more than they are in bigger conventions! Typically they’re stuck in a corner of the exhibitor’s hall called the “artist’s alley” where there doesn’t seem to be too much traffic, but at this convention, they were mixed into all of the rest of the booths! I feel like it should be like that at the bigger conventions, because all of those artists deserve way more attention for how much talent they have!

The biggest reason I went to Phoenix Fan Fest is because of two of the headlining guests, Millie Bobby Brown and Elizabeth Henstridge. I paid for a photo op with Elizabeth, and my friends were nice enough to let me hijack their photo op with Millie. The Elizabeth photo op happened shortly after we arrived, so we browsed the exhibitor’s hall for a bit until it was time for me to head over. Apparently I got there just in time too, because despite getting to the photo op at the designated time, the staff told me that she was going to be leaving in ten minutes. I still had to actually get my photo op ticket printed out, so they assured me that she would still be there after getting my ticket printed. Now that I’m actually thinking about this moment while writing this, no one ended up being behind me in line, so I’m wondering if they kept her from leaving so that I could still get my photo…which was very nice, on their part. However, I felt a little gypped, because it felt like this change in scheduling happened without any notice. It’s still all very confusing, to be honest. Despite all that, I still got this incredibly dorky photo!

 Cheesin' with Elizabeth Henstridge (AKA: Jemma Simmons from  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D !
Cheesin’ with Elizabeth Henstridge (AKA: Jemma Simmons from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D !

 

Mind you, when I say “dorky” I meant that I’m the dorky one. She was incredible.

This moment is/was/always will be a blur, and it was not at all how I expected it would be. The staff told me where to put my belongings, I entered the photo area, saw that Elizabeth was there and she appeared to be talking to someone, and that’s when I was like “oh snap it’s actually happening.” This is where the blur began. I remember her complimenting my shirt, to which I said “she (Peggy Carter) is my hero,” and then Elizabeth basically said she felt the same. There was then an awkward pause where I could have probably been like, “let’s do a crazy cool pose that will make you think your fans aren’t all awkward dweebs like I am,” but no. I just stood there, put my arm around her, and made sure to muster up the cheesiest of smiles. After that, I think I said something like “nice to meet you,” which I remember feeling weird about, because having an interaction with someone for less than thirty seconds doesn’t necessarily constitute “meeting” someone. 

Long story, short: a photo op isn’t an ideal way to meet your favorite celebrities, but it’s a great way to make sure you look as embarrassing as possible with them.

After that split second of my life was over, we explored the exhibitor’s hall for a bit longer before heading down to the Stranger Things panel with David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown! I wasn’t able to get any great pics because of how far back we were (which makes me regret not bringing my good camera) but oh my goodness, these two humans are absolutely incredible. Their dynamic felt a lot like he was an older brother who desperately wanted to embarrass his younger sister, and she desperately wanted to not be embarrassed. They’re not allowed to talk about Season 2 of the show at all, and David decided to taunt Millie for a good cumulative 10-15 minutes of the panel by saying things like “YOU GUYS, I JUST WANNA TALK ABOUT THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF SEASON 2 OH MAN IT’S SO GOOD,” to which she’d be like, “NO DON’T DO IT.” It was hilarious because she so genuinely believed he was about to spoil it, but you could tell he was messing with her so hard.

Also, Millie held a stranger’s baby. I mean, what other twelve-year old actor would do that? She’s also incredibly mature for her age, and that was so refreshing to see. I have high hopes for her as a rising star.

Immediately after their panel was over, we had to head upstairs for the photo op with Millie, where we waited in the HUGE (but not necessarily intimidating) line. My friend and I decided that we should come up with a solid plan for a pose, given my lack of preparation earlier that day resulted in a dorky face that probably broke a world record, so we decided “gang signs.” 

Funny enough, that’s all that my friend could say to Millie once we actually got into the photo area.

I feel like Millie was too confused about what we were trying to set up for, because she kept trying to figure out what exactly was going on. That’s when my friend uttered those words (which was more than I could do at that moment, so props to her) and we snapped right into these incredible poses:

 From left to right: straight up gangster, valley-girl gangster, and sassy gangster.
From left to right: straight up gangster, valley-girl gangster, and sassy gangster.

 

Of course, Millie happened to be the most adorable out of all of us. No surprises, there.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D panel with Elizabeth Henstridge and Brett Dalton was up next, and I was pretty excited for it, considering they both seemed like pretty incredible people. I already knew that Elizabeth was hilarious through her social media posts, and Brett had kind of a dorky charm from what I see on his Instagram every once in a while, so I figured it would be a hilariously fun time. 

Somehow, they managed to exceed all of my expectations. 

They handled a few pretty gross questions with incredible professionalism, which I’m sure they’re trained to do, but I was surprised at just how gracefully they did it. One in particular I remember was a guy saying that Brett had the height/build to play Nick Fury for some sort of spin-off series (which made no sense, since Fury is already played by a different actor in the current Marvel universe), and asked Elizabeth if she’d be willing to play the girl who has sex with him.

I’m not even joking, that’s basically how he asked the question.

But aside from that, they were dorky human beings who made me smile to the point where I regretted not paying for the photo op with both of them. Most of the answers they gave to questions started out as serious and well-meaning, but went off into hilarious tangents, one of which somehow turned glitter into a sexual innuendo. They definitely ended at least half of the questions by asking the person if they even answered their question, so that should give you an idea of the nature of these tangents. However, it added to their charm…somehow. 

I was even surprised to hear someone ask Brett about what it was like to play Mike in Until Dawn! I wasn’t sure how many people at the convention would know of his role in it, and considering it’s one of my all time favorite video games, it was cool to hear him talk about the production of it. Also, apparently everyone in the cast loves the guy who plays Fitz in the show, Iain De Caestecker. I mean, the guy seems like an adorable person, so I guess I can see where they were coming from.

Shoot, Elizabeth even had a moment where she made sure to remind Brett that men are also attracted to him when he brought up that he had an “effect on women.” I have quite a soft spot for celebrities who destroy the notion of heteronormativity, so this made me respect her on a WHOLE new level. 

The last part of our Phoenix Fan Fest experience consisted of us spending money on all the things we saw that, in our minds, we couldn’t live without. Believe me, I could have spent five times the amount of money I actually spent at this convention, but I managed to not dump most of my bank account onto these vendors.

Here’s a pic of me trying real hard to lay out all of my Fan Fest swag in an aesthetically pleasing manner:

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I could NOT pass up that Stranger Things print, which was made by one of my favorite artists. I absolutely LOVED the square prints of Sailor Pluto, Katara, and Sailor Venus, and the wonderful and talent artist selling them was doing a sale on them, so I had to snag them. And I mean, who could pass up those adorable buttons? Resistance was futile, when it came to these items.

As you can see, most of the things I bought were prints or handmade items, which is definitely a result of most of the booths being ran by artists! Even that Captain America shirt was made by the vendors themselves, using Puffy paint to make the designs on the shirts (which apparently means that it won’t crack or fade in the washer/dryer!) I usually make it a point at conventions to buy from at least one artist, but because there were several talented artists at Phoenix Fan Fest, I ended up buying from multiple. I feel better knowing that my money is going toward supporting their career of doing what they love.

Overall, I definitely loved attending Phoenix Fan Fest. It was all the fun of Phoenix Comicon without the stress of trying to battery-ram through crowds of people. We got there at about 11am, did two hour-long panels, waited in line for a photo op, and saw everything we wanted to see before 6pm. The only reason I’d go for the whole weekend is if both days had panels I really wanted to go to, since the small-scale nature of the event made it easy to experience it all in just one day. Regardless, I had fun, and I would seriously consider going again next year.

And if next years guests are people who I want photo ops with, I’ll think harder and prepare better, as to avoid any embarrassing faces. If you’re reading this, Elizabeth (let’s be real; you probably aren’t) I’m sorry my face decided to be dorky right upon being in a photo with you. I wish I could say it’s not you, but like, it was kind of you. So…sorry ’bout it.

Are LGBT People Obligated to Come Out? (For National Coming Out Day)

I’ve always found National Coming Out Day to be a powerful and inspiring day of the year. It’s a day that’s representative of the community saying “if you come out, we’re here for you, and you have nothing to worry about.” It’s a day that serves as a reminder to anyone who may be struggling with coming out that they aren’t alone, and that if they choose to come out, they will still be supported no matter how bad it could go for them. However, with how powerful it is to be out and to represent a community, it begs the question: is there an obligation for members of the LGBTQIA+ to come out? 

It’s hard to say what an exact knee-jerk reaction to this should be, because the word “obligation” puts a lot of pressure on those who might not ever be ready to come out. Sure, it’s important to come out to show the masses of intolerant straight people that we’re here, queer, and not likely going to disappear, but those same straight people who want to erase our existence also create the society that makes it terrifying for so many members in our community to even think about trying. Coming out can be dangerous, and losing sight of that would be a harmful misstep. However, society doesn’t make it any less scary by how aggressively it suggests that people should be out, putting out a rhetoric suggesting that we don’t have a choice in the matter.

Here’s an example: when rumors about a celebrity start swirling around about them not being straight, media outlets and people all over the web begin their own private (or sometimes very public) investigations. As a society, we do all we can to try and get that celebrity to just admit to whatever identity we think they are, as if they aren’t allowed the autonomy to keep it more private. We create the feeling of necessity in these poor people who might not be ready to let the world know. On some level, I think that they have more of an obligation than some others because of their potential impact on a larger chunk of society, but at the same time, it’s a more daunting decision for them because their audience is so large. Since they’re in the public eye so often, coming out would make for a powerful statement, and it could inspire anyone who’s struggling with their sexuality to do the same. However, treating them like they’re obligated to come out is incredibly unfair to them as a human being. We’re so quick to tell them to “just come out already,” but we don’t know whether or not they have aspects of their lives barring them from doing it safely. We don’t know if they have family members who are against it. We don’t know what kind of people they’re working with to where being out could be potentially dangerous. We don’t know what kind of fears they have in regards to their sexuality becoming public, and we have to respect that. When we’re antagonizing people to come out before they’re ready, we’re forgetting just how terrified we were to come out, ourselves. Treating it with such simplicity ignores the fact that it’s a truly daunting experience.

We even see the sense of creating obligation for people to come out in the subtle ways we talk about how we felt about our own coming out stories. So many LGBTQIA+ people will say that they felt like they were “living a lie” before coming out, as opposed to “waiting for a safe time to do so.” There’s this attitude that “staying in the closet” becomes equated with “not living your life authentically,” which is incredibly straining to the person who is struggling with coming out, especially when they might be in a situation where coming out could be unsafe. I’ll admit, coming out really does allow you stop “living a lie,” and it definitely helps with living a more authentic life. However, depending on the person’s current life situation, living authentically could come at a price that they’re not ready to pay. Whether it’s parents who have said some bigoted nonsense about gay people, or even something as simple as a friend using the word “faggot” nonchalantly, there are small moments around every corner that can make a person question whether or not it would be safe to expose such an important aspect of their identity. 

I’ve said this in many other pieces of content I’ve put online, but I’ll say it again: I still get nervous when I have to “come out” to people who don’t yet know I’m gay. There’s always that chance that the person will be against it, because reactions aren’t always easy to predict. Though I have a sense of obligation within myself to make sure my sexuality is visible to those around me, it’s still hard to make that leap over the wall of anxiety to make sure my homosexuality is out in the open. Granted, I don’t run around talking about being gay (that’s a hilarious visual, though), but in situations where I feel like I need to make it visible, I get anxious about whether or not it will be received positively. When I “come out” to people today, I’m not sweating with anxiety like I was when I hadn’t yet come out to anyone, but even that little bit of nervousness says a lot about how hard it could be for someone who doesn’t have it as easy as I do.

Coming out is a process, and it’s not just a one-time deal. Most often, you come out to friends and family first, but after that, you could be coming out almost daily to people you meet at work, school, social events, or wherever it is that your everyday lives take you. The family and friends part could be hard while the rest of it is easy, and vice versa. It could all be easy, or it could all end with losing connections and getting alienated. Because coming out can be such a gamble, it’s already a nerve-wracking journey to think about, much less actually put into practice. To act like we’re all obligated to act against this fear as soon as possible, despite possibly losing people we love most, starts to look insensitive after looking at all of these possibilities. Though it’s really easy to say “well screw ’em, you don’t need them if they won’t accept you,” that doesn’t change just how destroyed you could become when doing something as vulnerable as coming out.

To put it simply: no. No one is obligated to come out. Though coming out today in our country is definitely easier than it was ten or twenty years ago, it doesn’t mean that 100% of the people in your life will wave the rainbow flag in celebration of your sexuality. It’s one of the most vulnerable times of an LGBTQIA+ indivudual’s life, and because of that, even just one sign that the person doesn’t accept their sexuality could be damaging. In some parts of the world, it’s still a crime to be anything other than straight, and people get beaten senseless, even to death, just for being a part of our community. That’s enough to show just how terrible human-kind can be to us. Though coming out and becoming voice of representation would be a necessary way to combat discrimination like this, suggesting that people must come out against their own fears isn’t the way to go.

It’s no one’s job to force people out of their closets. Our own relationships with coming out will always be different from the next person’s, and no matter what that relationship is, the obligation has to come from within ourselves to be out and proud. Dragging everyone into coming out suggests that we all must be the same in order to stand in solidarity; acting on our own obligation to stand proud as who we are is what really shows the strength behind LGBTQIA+ community. 

Because this post speaks heavily about coming out, I thought it would be appropriate to put out some reminders in regards to coming out:

  • Come out ONLY when you’re ready, and when it’s safe.
  • Do NOT out anyone. That is their choice, not yours.
  • Do not come out as straight as a joke. It’s not funny.
  • If someone comes out to you, your reaction will matter. Make sure it implies nothing other than acceptance of their sexuality, and love for them as a human being.

To anyone who’s thinking about coming out, but still needs some guidance on how and when to do it, this article should definitely help. Having a support network is a big one when it comes to making the decision, though. Even if it’s just an online forum of people giving you advice, it’s more than enough to help gather your thoughts about coming out in the safest way possible.

No matter what you decide, whether it’s to come out tomorrow, in five years, or maybe not even in the foreseeable future, just know that you’re loved, accepted, and you have a giant family who will always have your back. You’re never alone, and I hope you always remember that.

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