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Five Years Out of the Closet

Five Years Out of the Closet

Update: I started using he/him pronouns in July 2019. This article keeps the original”she/her” self-references in order to maintain a sense of timeline.

The first person I came out to was my sister.

I was a sophomore in high school, and it felt less like coming out and more like I was confirming something she had known all along. She was the one who’d playfully taunted me for being “as straight as a circle” since we were little kids. Her reaction, though, was one of openness and acceptance, and through that positive experience, I was able to tell my friends, closer family members, and eventually the general public that I was queer.

It’s now been five years since I’ve started to overcome my own internalized biphobia/began to talk about the gender dysphoria I experience/explain to others that no, pansexuality doesn’t imply attraction to everybody out there. In honor of Pride month, I thought I’d do a quick touch-base with you all on where I stand on certain Pride-related issues that are prevalent today. If you’re the type to get easily offended, feel free to smash that red X button and come back for another basic outfit post on Monday. The opinions expressed below are mine and mine alone.

On labels

Five years out, I’ve come to realize that gender identity and sexuality are as ever-changing as personality, and that it’s so hard to put labels on such complex parts of ourselves. I still can’t adequately explain how I struggle daily with gender dysphoria, yet am happiest in a dress and heels, or why I have so few cis straight female friends. As someone who usually demands concise, emotionally detached answers from others, it’s frustrating how I can’t just say “I’m pansexual because X! I’m not cisgender, but I still use she/her pronouns because Y!”.

On couples who think it’s okay to randomly proposition queer people for three-ways

Please stop. Not only are you harmfully perpetuating the stereotype that bi/pansexual people are naturally promiscuous, you’re also embarrassing yourselves.

On gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is defined as “a psychological condition marked by significant emotional distress and impairment in life functioning, caused by a lack of congruence between gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth.”

I find this definition to be pretty spot-on. I can’t speak for anyone else, but gender dysphoria to me feels like being trapped in a dark, windowless hallway with no way out and no end in sight. The hallway is lined with doors, each leading to a room that provides temporary relief – dress shopping, programming, talking to friends, reading, working out, blogging, sad Lana del Rey songs, the Internet. These rooms are interconnected, brightly lit, and filled to the brim with achievements and pretty things and validations. They have windows that you can view the outside world through, bright and inviting and filled with endless opportunity. You could spend all your time there, happy and satisfied and, for the most part, carefree.

Every once in a while, though, someone (or a group of someones) marches in uninvited, snatches you by the arm, and forces you back into the hallway. Suddenly, you’re forced to remember that, despite the magnificent rooms that you’ve built up over the years, you’re still trapped in a long, dark place all by yourself, and that there’s no way out, and you feel so lost and claustrophobic and lonely that you can barely breathe. Most of the time, people don’t mean to do it, but that doesn’t change much. You’re still stuck there, and it really, really sucks.

Don’t be the asshole who drags other people into the hallway.

On gender roles

I hate ’em. I will continue to open doors for old white men and get into overly polite standoffs with them over who goes in first. I will continue to call out people who tell me that I shouldn’t be lifting heavy items/going to the gym/living with male roommates/not “letting my [cis male partner] be the man”. I’m not afraid to make things awkward and I will be speaking up. #SorryNotSorry ????✨

On large corporations supporting Pride by plastering rainbows on everything 

I’m honestly torn on this one. On one hand, I’m super grateful that brands such as Hollister and Urban Outfitters are partnering with GLSEN to make the world a safer place for LGBTQIA+ youth to exist in, that walking through Philly and seeing rainbows everywhere are helping to create queer visibility, et cetera. On the other, I wonder if they actually care. I sometimes feel like the excessive Pride clothing and decorations are like the inanimate-object versions of cis straight women who party at gay bars because “they just want to dance” and treat their gay male friends like walking caricatures rather than actual people. They’re more than happy to exploit the campy, happy side of queer people, but will gloss over the harder issues because they’re not pretty enough.

I also totally wore the rainbow dress pictured in this post to Pride, though.

It took me a long time to come to terms with myself and who I was — if you’re having a hard time, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Happy Pride month! ♚

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© 2019 by Marty Noel Chenyao. All rights reserved.

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