I feel like I should have something to come out about something….
I had listened to this great TED talk that discussed the way everyone has a closet to come out of: Ash Beckham: We’re all hiding something. Let’s find the courage to open up
That being said, one of the responses I get when I talk about LGBT issues around people, some of the most common comments refer to how few LGBT people there are and why so few people make such a big deal about everything. Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert on LGBT issues. I don’t do this in real life either, but I try not to let an opportunity to stop bigoted talk either, so conversations come up. I may fail and I may make things worse sometimes, but I’m working on it. The first thing that’s easy to debunk is that this is not a substantially small sect of the country, and even if it were, why are they less worthy of everything?
When I first started researching feminism and intersectional feminism, I came across the big conversations around where the LGBT community fit into it all and so I had to do some research. One book that I found incredibly helpful at understanding the width and breadth and diversity of this community was this one: The Other Genders: Androgyne, Genderqueer, Non-Binary Gender Variant: Intergender, Mixed Gender, Ambigender, Agender, Neutrois, Nullgender, Bigender, … Self-Defined Gender, Unlabeled Gender – Ken Wickham. It gives numbers on the many genders that don’t fit in the binary concept of it that most of us had. Then I found this book that gives a good history of the existence of non-binary gendered people for long before transgender was even a word: Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes – Gerald N. Callahan. But again, there’s more to what’s going on with gender and sexual preference than the pure anatomy of it (but it totally helped to get a bit of an anatomy lesson in the beginning). So after that, there came the rest of the history I required: Transgender History – Susan Stryke
Since then I’ve been interested in finding books with LGBT protagonists. Unfortunately, I’ve been terrible at actually reading these books. The unfortunate thing is that so many books that I find tend to stay in the “coming out” part of their story and it doesn’t give the reader an idea of what happens next. There are exceptions, my favorite is The Tale of Yin, which takes place in a time and place where it’s not stigmatized and they just had the relationships they had. The Terracotta Bride was also interesting for its treatment of LGBT relationships and a general lack of needing to come out.
It is the LGBT community that the term “coming out” most often refers to, but there are other closets, as Beckam mentions above. A book with a closet of another kind was Girl in Translation about a girl who was much poorer than she let people know because of her immigrant status.
We all have closets to come out of, are you going to sneak out of one of yours today? I think I’ll try one out later.
Happy National Coming Out Day!