It is National Coming Out Day

Shannon Barber
5 min readOct 11, 2016

Well hello.

If you don’t know already, I am your friendly neighborhood Old Ass Queer Gender Fluid Femme.

When I say Queer, I mean this.

For a time in my life I identified as bi because I hadn’t heard anything else that seemed to fit. Let yer Queer Auntie tell you a story. And for those readers who don’t think they know somebody Queer, now you do.

When I was a wee tiny potato, about 6 or so years old I was in love with four people.

Darcel Wynn of Solid Gold Fame. Ahem LOOK at her:

[image description: black and white photo of a beautiful woman with a long braid over one shoulder in a sequined low cut outfit.

I mean..yo. I remember watching her on Solid Gold and just, I wanted to marry her.

The second person I was in love with was, Freddie Mercury.

[image description: black and white photo of Freddie Mercury in profile, singing.

I mean..y’all. He was just so beautiful. And such a beautiful soul. Also wanted to marry him.

And of course Michael. Thriller era.

[image description: still image from the music video Thriller. Michael Jackson in a red and black leather jacket, dancing.

My last love was a Scottish boy in my class.

I recall informing my Mother that I was going to marry all four of them, we would live in a castle in Scotland with room enough for all our adopted kids, pets and assorted lovers. I look back at that and that is really how my heart has operated. At that age, I had no idea that there were gay and straight people, I figured everyone just made their choices and it wasn’t a big deal.

You love who you love, right?

When I saw a Gay couple once while we were out, I remember wondering if they were married? Did they live in a house? They looked so nice together, I wondered if they got their hair done where my Mom got hers done and did headshots at. That’s what was on my mind.

I had no idea until it was demonstrated to me that being not heterosexual is a problem for some people.

This was in let’s say about 1984ish? Nobody ever said Gay or Queer in a way that wasn’t a pejorative in some way. I was a sensitive little bean and I picked up on it, even from the most casual remarks I understood that my feelings, my love(s) were wrong.

And then the AIDS crisis came and everything was terrible. Men I admired and loved were dying, I heard adults in my life say the most awful evil things about them and to my mind, me by extension. I was terrified, I was depressed. I remember when I started to actually learn the facts about HIV and AIDS I was so ashamed to know people who mischaracterized and vilified + people.

In the early 90s I got to meet HIV+ people. I remember a girl fainted and I was annoyed. I shook his hand and hugged him. I went out of my way to scrounge up change to donate to a local hospice. When I was older in the mid 90s, I spent some time doing a bit of volunteer work, holding hands, wiping lips, reading to bedridden people who were waiting to die.

I didn’t know or understand the queer community at the time, but I was learning about it. I read as much Queer history as I could get my grubby hands on. I read gay erotica, I read John Rechy and consumed gay fiction.

I didn’t feel like I was in the closet. The concept of being in the closet didn’t really matter to me. It was less a matter of disclosure for me than it was trust. I did not trust most of the people in my life with my heart in that way. That said, I didn’t go out of my way to hide it either.

I didn’t “come out” per se because I felt no need to. For me coming out isn’t Queer Street Cred. It doesn’t make or break my queerness.

Coming out for me is a matter of trust and safety.

So when I was wee and very firm in my knowledge of my Queerness whether or not I had a name for it, I had no real desire to put a name on it to make it real.

Often when Coming out day comes around I see a lot of LGBT people doing a lot of work to insinuate without outright saying that if you’re in the closet, you’re somehow less than. That you’re not contributing to the community, that you’re a liar, that you’re just not gonna get your Rainbow Badge of Courage.

I reject that.

Yes, we live in the mother fucking future and in a lot of places, I can marry whomever I please.

That said, we still live in the world where Black Trans women are being murdered for existing. We live in a world where, parents kidnap their children and send them to torture camps to pray away the gay, we still live in a world where it is a question as to whether or not someone can lose their job because they are Queer.

This is reality.

And in reality, we can’t always make the open choice. We have to live. Those of us who don’t have a safety net, or live in Butthole where ever and in that place we will be in danger of losing our lives if we are out- we don’t need to come out to satisfy some bullshit sense of authenticity.

Realness is not how out you are.

Being authentic to who you are does not supersede survival.

I personally am out as fuck.

You don’t have to be. I still see you boo. I see you, I value you and your experience and today might not be the day. Don’t feel bad if you are in the closet. Maybe you don’t have yourself figured out yet, you’re good too.

Not all of us had the moment of clarity I had when i was 6 and in love with lots of people. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how long you’ve been considering, if you’ve gotten down with whatever gender in a sexual way.

I value your safety over knowing your personal truth.

Your life is more important to me than knowing the details.

To wrap this up I want to say this.

When and how you come out of the closet, if you come out belongs to you. It doesn’t belong to chirpy ads, rainbow banners or anyone who’d pressure you into coming out.

You folks, you’re who I honor today. You’re who is in my heart. I hope that in your lifetime you find the trust and safety to say out loud what’s in your heart.

You are seen.

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Originally published at on October 11, 2016.