“Internet, I’m Queer”: *Coming out*online

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“Mom, I’m gay”. Seems easy to say, right? I mean it’s just a statement. Thinking back to that day still gives me Goosebumps. Writing about it, my face contorts, eyes squint, head sinks: all out of how awkward and embarrassing those two hours of silence were – leading to this important moment encapsulated in three words. The next three words came out of the women I love sitting across from me, “Kyle, I love you”. Okay so that wasn’t three words, but it seems more dramatic – almost as dramatic has that memory of March 21, 2013 – ironically Human Rights day.

Most queer folks find this moment liberating. Some, however, have situations and responses that went the other way. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I purposefully put the words ‘coming out’ in my title in asterisks marks. I’ll explain why I don’t like this term.

Veering back to me, “coming out” – however difficult it was for me – was an incredible moment because I was allowed to be myself. I mean I didn’t list my boyfriends or change my deportment to the stereotypical overtly white, gay man that appropriates lingo of black women in America. I didn’t snap my fingers after I came out. I didn’t purse my lips in any fashion to show my transition from “in the closet” to “out and unapologetically proud”. (Please note that this is not an attack on gay men who do this. However, this is not in my character and I wouldn’t want to offend anyone whose mannerisms do align to this). I –and that moment – steered from overwhelming myself and the woman that gave me my life.

Image may contain: 3 peopleHeather Prinsloo and her son Kyle Prinsloo (me with short hair) chilling. (Pic: Kyle Prinsloo)

Revealing your sexual orientation and/or authentic gender to anyone, vis-à-vis, is terrifying. Revealing yourself to the world is another dilemma on its own. Youtube, a space to over 5 billion viewers, uploaders, haters, lovers, and seekers to questions burning within them, acts as a platform for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to “come out”. For reasons that differ for each individual, there are some pros and cons (I believe) to coming out online. Explore them with me for a minute:

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Pros 

  1. There’s no one placed in front of you to display any form of (un)expected dismay in your “choice” of orientation and/or gender assignment.
  2. Initially, you’re speaking to yourself – most probably your biggest critic EVER. If you can please yourself, who gives a fuck about anyone else, right?
  3. If you’re not happy with the outcome, you have the chance to come out again, and again, until you’re happy enough to upload.
  4. There’s the choice of never actually uploading (I’m not saying you should never speak about who you are, but there’s a sense of autonomous agency over who actually gets to experience the greatness that is you).
  5. It’s a memory that you can forever cherish, that won’t falter in any regard.

Cons

  1. There’s still a large demographic that share this space with you online. You will get naysayers and haters that don’t – and probably never will – accept your choice to be you.

That’s about it for my cons.

That little piece of con can literally dampen your experience, can dehumanise you – forcing you back into a space of solitude and a life monitored by (some) external assholes.

In an online journal I scoped, I found theorists called Shelley L. Craig and  Lauren McInroy who believe that “physical and emotional distance created by new media [Facebook and Youtube etc.]—distance which allowed participants to limit their contact with the heterosexism, cissexism, homophobia, and transphobia that exist both online and offline.” Like I’ve stated before, this is not the case for everyone. Experiences differ online –as they do offline.

Now leading to why I don’t resonate with the term “coming out” which I’ve used in abundance. There’s this belief that everything must exist in relation to something. The same can be said that homosexuality only exists in relation to heterosexuality – as well as how all “other” genders exist in relation to the homogenised gender roles of male and female. By “coming out”, I believe that you’re saying you were once trapped and because you’ve been set free, your actions can be monitored and further repressed in any way possible by your counter gender or sexuality. You are who you are. Don’t live in relation to someone else. But also don’t forget your oppression. Work towards battling stigmas and stereotypes if you don’t feel they fit you. Do not live under the thumb of anyone.

That’s my little rant over.

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Here’s a list of top 5 coming out videos found online:

  1. Troy Sivan. South African born actor now residing in Britain.

 

2. Jeezy Town. one of the only South African Videos I found!

 

3. Jesse Duke. From America, he shares this intimate moment with his sister.

 

4. Austin and Aaron Rhodes. A double bill of coming out.

 

5. Jay Versace.  YouTube sensation comes out and it’s exactly the attitude to have!

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