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It’s time to stray from this entire idea of the closet

| James Ebben

Although I have one experience in my life that I would deem my “coming out story,” this was simply the most significant time to me amongst many. After telling my family and close friends I was gay, I found myself constantly having to “come out” to other people in my life. In a sense, regardless of how many people I have told, there're still other people who may not know, and in a sense I’d be closeted when it comes to them.

Upon acknowledging this fact, I’m instantly trapped in a sort of limbo between knowing who I am as a person and how others know me. There will never be a time where I am fully “out.”

When I first left home to head to college, I found myself in a new city where I hardly knew anyone. I had to come out to my roommates, my hall mates, my classmates, my teammates, my teachers — and the list goes on. Every time I encountered someone new, I essentially had to come out to them.

It’s far more complex and complicated than being in or out of the closet. The closet should be in some faraway land, tucked into a tiny cottage in the middle of the woods — and forgotten. The closet model is a broken one and one that needs to be done away with.

Now, back to my pivotal moment. I told my family I was gay before I told most of my friends. Little did I know that one of my acquaintances had taken it into her hands to alert all my friends before I had the chance. My friends allowed me to still tell them on my own terms though, not addressing the matter until I brought it up to them.

This process of telling these loved ones, for me, was a great and accepting one. However, I know that I come from a place of privilege, having a family that has other gay members, is pretty progressive and doesn’t take religion all that seriously.

But these “coming out” stories are not universal.

There are people who are kicked out, beaten and killed for expressing their identity. I don’t want to share my story and expect others to get false hope that theirs will be similar. Each and every person has their own unique lived experiences.

Although I was aware of this, San Francisco made this more apparent to me than ever. This diverse place, filled with people who had come from all over the country and all over the world, had gone through situations completely different from my own. My story is exactly that — mine. It’s personal; it’s something I share to bond with others, not something that belongs to the world. My lived experiences allow me to form connections with others, not something that represents every LGBTQ+ person in this country or even on this campus.