When you’re in the closet, you imagine coming out to be this really transformative experience that will fix all of your ills and problems. As I sat in my room, an overweight, pimply sixteen year old with hair that was too long and an affinity for drama class, I imagined post-coming out Anthony would be this ripped, fit stud, who was clean and good looking and was successful and outgoing and fun. I was told that ‘It Gets Better’, and I thought that would mean that I would get better, too.
Fast-forward to the present. Post-coming-out Anthony just licked coconut water off of his kitchen bench because he spilt it and it was too expensive to waste. Pause in the present to see him sneeze onto his computer screen and then just kind of rub the discharge around with the back of his left forearm until the screen was clear enough to type this article. Rewind and feel really unsurprised that he’s single, and that the only time the word ‘stud’ has ever related to him was when he thought briefly about getting an ear piercing before his friends told him that he ‘doesn’t really have the right face for that…?’
I’m literally none of the things that pre-coming-out me thought I would be and, I’m not going to lie, I feel a little gipped by the whole process. In order to save anyone out there any future disappointment, I wanted to be honest with you. I make a list of some of the REAL things that happen after you come out.
What you’ll learn quickly after coming out is that everyone has probably known for a really long time. They'll make it clear they've been doing you a marvellous favour by not outing you and as a result, not acting in such a way that would’ve led to the physical, psychological and emotional upheaval of your entire life. I know. Generous.
You owe them for not ruining everything, truly. You do. They’re such peaches! There will be a lot of times when you’re having an argument with someone and they’ll turn around and say, ‘you’re so selfish, you know, did I ever tell anyone that you were gay? Because I’ve known for ages! The least you could do is drive me into town!’
And you’ll drive them, but you’ll make them pay for parking. And, just to dig the knife in, you’ll play Rupaul the entire way there and (hopefully) they’ll hate every second of it.
2. Miscellaneous Female (1): OhmyGod, I love you, you’re so SASSY.
Really, I’m not sassy. I’m insulting you because I don’t like you. Please stop touching me. This isn’t a joke, this is life. No I don’t want to hi-five you.
3. You’ll Still Suck at Sports
I was never much good at P.E and I distinctly remember playing T-Ball in one class and it taking at least three tries before I hit the ball. It travelled one metre. I walked to first base because I recognised that it all just wasn’t for me.
After coming out, it takes a while for you to break out of the idea that this all isn’t for you; that it’s something you don’t have to hide. So you’ll strike out a lot. Because you won’t realise that people are hitting on you, and if you do, it takes a while to break out of the habit of immediately saying no and walking away while you’re insides are screaming that somehow your parents are going to find out.
I remember after a lecture once, a guy came up to me and said hi. I’d noticed him looking at me during the lecture. It made me uncomfortable, because he was wearing a puffy-jacket and it was a warm day and my mind immediately jumped to the fact that maybe he had a gun and was sizing me up, because I figured that I probably looked like the weakest gazelle out of the herd of students in the theatre. He said ‘hi’, and touched my arm.
“Hi”, I said, “I saw you looking at me.”
I cut him off, “Do I have something on my face? I feel like I did.”
“Great. Thanks. Bye.” I said, as I trotted away. Because I’m an idiot.
4. Miscellaneous Female (2): So are you a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom’?
I guess what’s struck me most about coming-out is how it’s not a transformative process at all. In reality, it’s a complete re-affirmation of exactly who you are. Except now, everyone knows who you like to bone. Post-coming-out, you’ll still be as much of a mess as you were before; you’ll just own it. You’ll still do that thing where you subtly sniff your underwear to check if they’re clean even though you know they are because you washed and folded them and put them in the drawer (or mum did, whatever, this is about you). You still won’t give a fuck about Tom Daley if you didn’t before and NO, unfortunately Zachary Quinto won’t magically appear at your door and want to fuck you. ‘Live long and jerk off’ might just have to become your new motto for a little bit.
But there will be victories, like being able to watch Rupaul’s Drag Race openly/ before you go to bed. Being able to be open with people, and being able to be open with yourself. They’re small victories. But they mean a lot, even if you feel like you haven’t done anything at all, a bit like when my team won T-Ball in P.E.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to clean my laptop screen.
But with my right forearm this time. Because I’m not an animal.