Why Someone's Choice To Come Out Doesn't Require A Formal Announcement

by Ryann Graham

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. There I was, just an 11-year-old boy, reading Sports Illustrated, when a gust of wind opened my window.

A beautiful fairy floated in and asked, “Would you like to be gay for the rest of your life?” And I said, “Absolutely!” Then, I snapped my hand in a circular motion and traded in Sports Illustrated for the latest copy of Vogue. And, that was the day I decided I was gay.

This is the story I jokingly tell my friends when I have the conversation about being gay. I don’t mind the laughs and questions that inevitably follow; I just wish all coming-out stories were as easy-going and stress-free.

Your heart is racing; you have a slew of mixed emotions and anxiety because you aren’t sure how people will react. You figure out who to tell and then the moment comes. You open your mouth and utter two words that will change your relationship forever: “I’m gay.”

Coming out can be among the most stressful and difficult times in your life, which leads me to ask the question, “Why do people have to ‘come out’ anyway?” I hate the idea that just because I am a gay guy, I have to always remember there will come a moment with every new person I meet, when I have to formally address the fact that I am gay.

Don’t get me wrong; I love who I am and am glad to be where I am in life, I just don’t like the idea of being expected to announce that I am gay or else, I am “keeping a secret.”

I remember talking to a group of my friends about another mutual friend, who “came out” on Facebook when he announced he had a boyfriend. My friends were upset he didn’t tell them he was gay first.

They felt like he should have told them, and they wouldn’t have cared. My response was, “Just because he didn’t tell you guys doesn’t mean he was keeping it a secret.”

At that moment, I felt the urge to also tell them I was gay, but then I thought, “Why do I have to make an announcement for something I can’t control?” I held my tongue and changed the topic of conversation.

I’ve reflected on that moment and realized that no one should have to announce being gay anymore than a heterosexual person should have to announce being straight.

Just because I am gay doesn’t mean I have to change my Facebook status or make Instagram posts twirling rainbow flags just to make other people feel more comfortable about it.

Newsflash: Not all gay guys are walking caricatures. Some of us like "Star Wars" and football, some of us don’t. Some of us are your best friends, so expecting us to make formal announcements about our sexual preference makes for an awkward conversation that need not be.

No gay person should feel as though he or she is keeping a secret if he or she chooses not to draft a social media post or grab all of his or her friends and family for an intervention-style coming out party.

It is 2015; there is no right or wrong way to be gay and there is nothing wrong with it. It is time that we, as a culture, start treating it that way and stop expecting announcements from gay people -- that's a step in the right direction.

Just because someone didn’t announce being gay doesn’t mean the person was hiding it from you. If you are ever curious about it, just ask. The only way to overcome being afraid of what you don’t understand is to learn about it… or wait for the magic fairy to come floating through your window — whichever comes first.