Skeletons in the closet. It’s general definition is a discreditable or embarrassing fact that someone wishes to keep secret. We all have skeletons; some might be about appearance, thoughts, labels, or ones past. Most commonly, those skeletons are our identity. For a lot of us, sexuality is a considerable part of our identity but it is commonly kept hidden and “in our closets”. There are ideas around labels and coming out that need to change in order for this not to be a thing we keep hidden.
My sexuality has been a roller coaster. I came out as bisexual in fith grade and stuck with that label until sixth grade. Then in seventh grade, I went back into the closet, and in eighth grade I came out as a lesbian. Now, in ninth grade, people would say I am bi. I say “people would say” and not “I identify as'' because to be honest I don’t. Bisexual is defined as sexually attracted to two or more genders . All I really know about my sexuality is that I am not straight. I haven’t really figured out the whole preference thing, however I believe I have one, and I also haven’t found a label. To me, labels feel restricting. I feel as if people expect me to fit into that label perfectly, however that might not be the case. For instance, if I end up only dating only men then I would feel invalidated by that label. So, what do I identify as? Personally don't fully identify with any label. Labels are a way to stereotype people. They stop you from being your true authentic self.
Now why would I want to keep this all a secret, or more ironically: in the closet? You do not owe anyone a label or explanation of your sexuality. Some people may feel the need for a label to feel validation in their sexuality, but I believe we should leave this mindset behind. As I have figured out, trying to find a label is difficult and can drain you. You search for definitions upon definitions, and still can’t find that perfect one. You feel alone and as if the feelings you are experiencing are not real; no one else experiences them. I felt this way for quite a while, and I have finally come to terms with the fact that there is not a ‘perfect’ label for me, and that this doesn't make my sexuality any less valid. We should not have to spend time and energy on looking for a label. Just be who you are.
There is one flaw however to this idea of no labels: coming out. Because I don't identify specifically with anything I have found it harder to come out. Instead of just saying “I’m bi” I have struggled to find the words to describe what I am. I usually end up with queer or not straight. This is usually acceptable until you get that one person who is persistent on getting an exact explanation of queer. They don’t understand that that is the point of the word queer that ther is no exact definition for it. In response to such a person, I usually end up using labels to define my lack of labels. This is counterintuitive. We need to step away from this idea of needing labels, as it prevents people from coming out, and being who they actually are. So, when someone says they don’t identify with any label, leave it at that. As I said earlier: they do not owe anyone any explanation of THEIR sexuality.
The mindset around the idea of coming out needs to change. LGBTQ+ people are automatically put in the closet. You have no choice but to come out; you can't just be yourself. This stigmatizes the LGBTQ+ community, is not normal. We need to specifically tell people that we are not your average hetro. Now, I don't think the whole idea of coming out shouldn’t exist, but I believe that we need to change the idea around it. We are brought up in a world where it is though to keep “gay stuff” away from kids becuase it is seen as “innapropriate”, but at the same time we are showing kids hertosexual couples left and right. I remember being so relieved when I found out it was okay for someone to “like” the same sex as them.
This should not be how it works. We should be brought up in a world were kids are exposed at a young age to same sex realtionships, so they feel more acceptable. Parents should also not assume their kid is hetrosexual. When I was brought up, all the adults around me would reference my future partner as male. This made it even more confusing for young me, as it made me think that I was only allowed to like guys. We need to stop assuming kids sexualites and expose them to more diverse couples. This will help change the idea of coming out to more of a detail rather than a “I’m not normal” statement.
One of the biggest reasons LGBTQIA+ people stay in the closet is internalized homophobia. Homophobia and transphobia are unfortunately very real and very present. They not only stop people from being themselves from fear of being a social outcast, but they also have people fear for their safety. People will go to extreme terms to stop others from being themselves, and being with who they want to be with. Feeling as if you could get hurt from just existing, feels, as you can imaging, horrible. If you can in any way shape or form, help people of the LGBTQ+ community feel more safe and accepted, please do. I promise you, it will make a difference.