Coming Out of the Blue

When I was in eighth grade, I told my best friend at the time that I was bisexual. I did it over Facebook message (to be fair it was when facebook was still cool). Now the two of us approach our twenties, both out as bisexual, but still navigating the nuances of sexuality and how it appears in our daily lives: does he tell his roommate? Do I tell my boss? Should our classmates know? Our sexualities seem to be rejected by a culture that, ironically, still demands to know that we are not straight.
October 11th, 2016 was National Coming Out Day. And as more and more of my friends come out as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, I wonder: where are we coming out from? Why are we presumed and expected to be straight unless we prove otherwise in some grand Facebook post?
I personally have mixed feelings about “coming out”. While I think that representation is crucial, I disagree with the heteronormative society that demands LGBTQIA+ people come out. Visibility can be a trap. Visibility can be a process of self-reporting in an attempt to make ourselves acknowledged by the regime of “personhood” based on compulsary heterosexuality. You don’t have to self report to heterosexual people to have your identity be valid.
Coming out is a choice, not an obligation. If coming out means facing violence, homelessness, unemployment, or starvation, like it does to so many members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it is within your right to prioritize your safety. For whatever reason you stay “in the closet”, your identity is still legitimate. However you personally decide to be out, be it only to friends, only to family, or to no one at all, you are still valid. Do not allow heteronormative culture to define you, this is exclusively your identity.
Ultimately, whether you are “in” or “out”, there are people who care for you, and there are people who love you.