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Coming Out, Even if it is Just to Myself!

Raj Mattu

When I volunteered to write a blog about coming out for LGBTQ+ History Month, I had the words clearly mapped out in my head. ​​​​​​​I knew exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to convey my truth…

Now, the words are stuck in my head and my fingers are refusing to type. You see, I’ve rarely ever spoken about my sexuality to anybody, let alone written about it from a personal point of view. ​​​​​​​

Then I saw this quote by American author, Mark Twain, who said: “the worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”

​​​​​​​The poignancy of this quote left a bit of a stinging sensation on my psyche, like salt on a fresh wound. It made me sad that I had spent too many years repressing my sexuality and never fully embracing it. After a tough few years, post-pandemic, life took a different meaning. I wanted to feel liberated and closer to my authentic self.

This means having to acknowledge that quite possibly I’ve denied myself the happiness that comes with self-acceptance and being comfortable in one’s own skin. I don’t want that for anyone. It closes an individual to so many possibilities and a journey that could’ve been.

Besides, in this modern age, no one should have to hide who they are – whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Thing is… I do not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight and there lies the confusion...

We all hear the words ‘queer’ and ‘Q+’ but what do these actually mean? Also, if they matter then why are they still absent from some LGBT campaigns, networks and leading organisations?

Talking about pansexuality and asexuality, or admitting that I am both to even my gay and lesbian friends is tough when the ‘Q’ and the ‘plus’ are not consistently valued in the LGBTQ+ community.

International research supports the view that pansexual, bisexual and asexual people face mockery and stigma due to their sexual orientation even within the LGBTQ+/ LGBTQIA+ communities – with some people claiming it’s not even a real thing.

For someone like me from a South Asian (Punjabi) background – where I’m constantly reminded that a badly behaved or unconventional child (particularly a daughter) can bring down the reputation of an entire family – the pressure to conform to societal norms is very high.

Besides, it was never easy coming out when the people fronting LGBTQ+ awareness campaigns, media, film, TV, fashion, and music just don’t look like me. When I was a young adult in the 90s and noughties, I remember being constantly denied entry into gay bars and clubs because I was too ‘straight passing’. And the only time I did get in was when I was with my White friends. I’m hoping things have changed a lot since then.

To be fair – for decades I didn’t know how to describe what I was because there didn’t seem to be a name for it. I only knew that I couldn’t relate to being straight. Then one day I was driving down the motorway listening to a radio one documentary about what all the LGBTQ+ flags meant to people. I remember having that eureka moment in the car – ah, so I’m both pansexual and asexual! I never knew that!

·    A pansexual person is someone who has a sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction toward people irrespective of their sex or gender identity. They may also refer to themselves as omnisexual or gender blind.

·    An asexual person is defined as someone who rarely has a sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people. I would argue it is a bit more complicated than that but that’s a conversation to be had on another day.

Now we have high profile celebrities identifying as pansexual including Janelle Monae (singer, actress), Cara Delevingne (model, actress), Miley Cyrus (singer, actress), Brendon Urie (singer of Panic at the Disco). ​​​​​​​

More people are also starting to open up about their asexuality, including Morrissey (singer of The Smiths), Yasmin Benoit (model and activist), and Caitlyn Jenner (parent to Kendall and Kylie Jenner).

All the people above are celebrating being their authentic self and that can only be a good thing as the truth really can set you free! It’s great to see more people of colour coming out too, though I am yet to see a pansexual, asexual or panromantic South Asian. Lilly Singh did recently come out as bisexual, so that is a good start.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with their sexual identity or coming out, please visit the LGBT Foundation's page on coming out. You can read about this here.