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Coming out in times of tragedy is our way of fighting back

In the wake of the Pulse massacre, this is the strongest statement queer people can make.

After the Pulse massacre, Facebook was the last site I wanted to check. The endless stream of articles, videos, and bigotry that I expect from many of my nation’s leaders was too much for me. But after avoiding it as much as I could, I signed on and saw this post:

“It’s Pride month and I refuse to be ashamed. In light of today’s events, I refuse to be afraid. I identify as bisexual and nothing will stop me from being with or participating in the LGBTQIA community.”

My heart swelled. It hadn’t even occurred to me that a tragedy like this one would be a catalyst for those who are closeted to come out. Further down in my feed, I saw it a second time.

“I never really talk about my sexuality online, and rarely in person. It’s not something I feel is a large part of my identity. But I feel the need to shout and crow and scream right now that I am not straight, and fuck anyone that has a problem with that.”

….Is this a thing?

Of course it is. It makes perfect sense. In a time when it feels like there is nothing we can do to feel safe again, coming out is the purest, bravest step that we can take. I know how hard it can be to be vocal about your sexuality when it does not fit nicely into a box.

I cried all weekend, and then I made plans with my best queer friend to be together as soon as possible. It’s not that my straight friends or partner are incapable of helping me, but in the wake of this massacre I needed the kind of camaraderie I really only get from other LGBTQ+ people.

I am a bisexual+ woman, and for years, I was very alone. In a world where I can easily pass as straight, I refuse to. Now, I have a support system that makes me feel safer than I ever did when I was alone. When LGBTQ+ people have a community, grieving is easier.

I have always been saddened by the sheer numbers of bisexuals, pansexuals and other minorities who are afraid of stigma and violence and never come out. We are told our participation in the LGBTQ+ communities is optional, less important.  But during times like these, it’s impossible for us to be excluded from the community. We need to be included. I know that across the planet there were people who wept and didn’t have anyone around them who really understood.

There are huge numbers of LGBTQ+ people hiding in plain sight, suffering without the consolation of a community.  I know what that feels like; it can feel like there is nothing you can do to sooth your broken soul.

Perhaps now is the perfect moment to take that first step – to come out.

With 72% of bisexual+ people remaining in the closet, this is one way we can respond to the hatred and combat the fear. By coming out, we say to the rest the world: we are in this together.  

The LGBTQ+ community is strongest when we come together. We have strength in our numbers and those numbers are so much lower than they should be because of the lack of inclusion that non-binary sexualities face.

When bisexuality is erased, we deny our own community. We turn away the very people on whose shoulders we can cry when tragedy strikes. For every gathering to mourn Orlando, there are LGBTQ+ people feeling scared and alone, with no place to go to feel the collective support that we take for granted.

Coming out is scary any time you do it – but I promise we’ve got your back.

This is an invitation to the people who are worried no one will take them seriously. To everyone who can come out safely – do it now. You do not have to mourn in silence. We will hold you, we will not judge you, we will understand.