By Karin Gomez
Coming out for me is something that is always happening. I am agender, bisexual, mentally ill, and (probably) Autistic. Nobody knows these things just from being around me, so I have to think a lot about what, when, and how to tell people about these very important parts of my identity and history.
When I was 14, I realized that I am bisexual, and within a few months I was coming out to my friends and classmates. I am now 22 years old, and I still regularly come out to people about my bisexuality. Sometimes I even come out to the same person multiple times, if they start to think of me as having another sexuality (like gay or straight). Now that I have people I can trust, I rarely decide not to come out to a new friend. Coming out does get easier as you have more practice doing it, which is great because I have a feeling that I won’t be done coming out anytime soon!
When I was 20, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and began the medication schedule that currently helps me participate in school, work, and social events. I had those problems since I was a child, but it wasn’t until I made the decision to tell somebody that I could get help. I was “outed” by my self-harm years before I came out intentionally. I am glad that I finally learned enough about myself to come out in a positive way about my mental illness so that I could begin to treat it and manage it. Now that I have a more positive view of this side of myself, I am the one who decides whether or not to come out. When I make a new friend, I decide when and how to explain my brain. Every one of these coming out decisions is hard, but at least they are my decisions now.
At age 21, I realized that I am agender. I spent a lot of time reading and started to understand that if I want people to know I don’t feel like I have a gender, I would have to explain it to them. By this time, I had years of coming out as bisexual, so the coming out experience wasn’t new for me. However, it just added one more detail of my life that I have to make a decision about disclosing every time it comes up. At this point, I can’t keep track in my head of who knows what!
Throughout this time, and even as I write now, I have been simultaneously in search of a label or explanation for my brain while “coming out” under various labels to various people. Right now, I am in the process of testing that is likely to lead to a label of either Autism or Nonverbal Learning Disorder. In the meantime, I have to keep deciding how, when, and to whom to come out.
For anyone like me who experiences multiple invisible identities, coming out and staying can be a lifelong struggle. If you find yourself constantly wondering how much to disclose about yourself, please remember that you are not alone. Every day, people all over the world have to decide whether to come out. We think about whether it is safe, whether we will feel accepted, whether people will know what we mean, whether we will be believed, and so many other factors. Coming out about your gender, orientation, disability, or any other identity is something you might have to think about again and again for the rest of your life. At different times and with different people, the way you express yourself will change. The decisions you make about coming out are yours alone. You might feel pressure from some people to hide your identity, and from others to come out and represent. It’s fine to take those ideas into consideration, but it’s important to remember that in the end, you are the one who knows what is best for your health, relationships, and safety.
Karin Gomez is a resident of Arizona. They are studying Elementary Education and planning to be a middle school science teacher. Karin is married and has a dog and a cat. Their identities include agender, bisexual, autistic, atheist, and many more. They love to sew, watch youtube videos, cook, and dance in their spare time. When their partner finishes school, they and their partner plan to move to the country and raise their own food.
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