“Coming out:” not a universal experience
By: Isidora Roskic
Summeiya Khamissa’s advice on choosing whether or not to come out is all about individual experience, “Before sharing your queerness with others, access your safety and comfort. You are still valid in your queerness, even if you’re not ‘out’”.
Tuesday, October 11th marks National Coming Out Day (NCOD), an annual awareness day centered around celebrating the process of “coming out” as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
NCOD dates back over three decades, first celebrated in the United States in 1988. It emerged out of a feeling that publicly disclosing your identity was an act of rebellion against the oppressive, conservative regimes of the early 80s. Almost 35 years later, NCOD is still largely recognized and observed across Canada and many other countries across the globe.
The process of “coming out” can be a liberating act for some, but many 2SLGBTQ+ activists have warned against overemphasizing its importance. Among them, Preston Mitchum infamously wrote that “coming out” culture is rooted in an overly simplistic narrative that a public declaration of one’s sexual and/or gender identity will receive immediate celebration and support. Summeiya Khamissa is the Youth Network Project Coordinator at CCGSD and facilitates our workshop Letting Go of Coming Out. Summeiya encourages youth to resist colonial concepts of queerness and said “for many QTBIPOC youth, the process of “coming out” is not necessary and can cause unneeded harm.”
Youth Network Project Coordinator
Summeiya is the Youth Network Project Coordinator at CCGSD and facilitates our workshop Letting Go of Coming Out. As Summeiya puts it, “for many QTBIPOC youth, the process of “coming out” is not necessary and can cause unneeded harm.” Throughout the one hour workshop, they encourage youth to resist colonial concepts of queerness and interrogate the type of language historically used to describe the process of disclosing one’s identity. Letting Go of Coming Out creates an opportunity for students to explore how “Letting In” shifts the “coming out” narrative by giving 2SLGBTQ+ people the agency to share their identities in a way that feels authentic to them.
Therefore, this NCOD we should work towards dismantling the perception that coming out makes someone’s identity more valid or authentic. Instead, “coming out” should simply be seen as one aspect of some people’s experience.
Choosing not to come out does not make you, your identity or your experiences any less meaningful, worthy or real. We recognize the diverse circumstances surrounding ‘coming out’ and affirm your personal journey. Do what feels best and safest for you.
If you’re interested in booking a Letting Go of Coming Out workshop with Summeiya, click here.