Reflections On Coming Out

October 11th was National Coming Out Day, which was established after the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This celebration of identity is intended to promote equality, safety, and tolerance for all, regardless of sexual identity.

People’s willingness to share their coming-out stories is a significant part of this movement. As someone who studies storytelling, I can tell you that stories are a powerful expression of the cultural and individual aspects of our identities. It makes sense that collecting coming-out stories would yield a great many insights about the commonalities of both oppression and acceptance.

But what about those stories that haven’t been told, either because they’re not yet as culturally acceptable, or because the risks remain too high for individuals to come out? On the one hand, individuals who come out as child-free liken the extreme reactions they get to those that gays and lesbians get when coming out. On the other hand, high-profile sex bloggers like Clarisse Thorn fear that coming out as kinky to people outside the internet would lead to even more negative reactions than coming out as gay or lesbian might.

Coming out definitely carries concrete risks, though the possibility of acceptance is an immeasurable (potential) benefit. Right now, coming out as a recognized sexual orientation seems to be the norm, though the child-free and BDSM examples above reveal that there are many identities that would benefit from greater tolerance.

You can find resources for straight supporters/allies here, here, and elsewhere on the internet.

Thanks to Wikimedia for the image.

Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist.

About Jeana


Jeana Jorgensen, PhD recently completed her doctoral degree in folklore and gender studies at Indiana University. She studies fairy tales and other narratives, dance, body art, feminist theory, digital humanities, and gender identity.