Coming out as non-binary to my audience; my family, my friends and myself

Section 1: The self-discovery

I haven’t even told my parents yet. Parents that seemingly would be the ‘right’ kind of people to come out to. Parents that wouldn’t have a heart attack on the spot when receiving this type of information. But see despite the fact that I grew up with extremely liberating and progressive parenting this is still something I find difficult. Generally unaccepting and conservative families tend to have the persona of backwards traditional values where many draw arguments from a religious context, but if you’d included my parents within that preconceived notion when reading the first sentence of my story, you would be wrong. I’m 18, queer and not a woman. And I’m here to talk about it.

See, sexuality is one thing. Something for the sophisticated eye to dwell upon and question. When I said I was queer, it was intended to describe me in more ways than one. Claiming my pansexual identity through my teenage growth was a puzzling journey often stunted by the pressure to conform to one particular preference. Undoubtedly, this wasn’t particularly aided by the reality of attending an all-girls anglican school for my 13 years of initial education, and often made it seem like I was an alien in my environment.

So if you’ve managed to make it to the third paragraph of my fear-driven spiel on the authentic craft of coming out then “I commend you, Babe.” There’s a great possibility that if you’ve decided to continue following my words then my story means something to you in more than a sympathetic existence. And for that I want you to know I hear you. Self-discovery is this phrase that gets thrown around by well-rounded ‘do-gooders’ and other people deeming themselves to be professional enough to dictate how people should live their lives. Now there’s nothing wrong with encouraging others to take time for themselves, hell, I wish someone had been as motivated to drill this shit into my brain when I was growing up in a world that I didn’t believe I belonged in or deserved to be a part of.

But this journey is crucial to being able to share the incredible person that you are with others. Being able to live authentically free and with the ability to breathe for the first time in god knows how long. Self-preservation is a critical part of maintaining mental and physical wellness as well as being able to rid yourself of the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

I’ve known that I identified with being non-binary or neither man nor woman for quite some time now. And those of you who can’t empathise deeply with me on such a thing might wonder why the hell I haven’t allowed some of the closest/most personal people in my life to be provided with the knowledge of such a key aspect of my identity. And I hear you, but for those of you who understand me to my core and carry the weight of the terror such a thing can bring, you will know all too well that it’s not just as simple as dumping into a conversation at the family dinner table.

I’ll admit it took me a fair few months to understand that what I was feeling was a result of my mind, body and soul rejecting the stereotypical form of being viewed as a ‘woman’ and that realisation was definitely assisted by being lucky enough to be surrounded with like minded alternative and neurodivergent friends at school; a rarity to be found at the institution I so briefly described but something I’m incredibly grateful for. Having queer friends specifically when I was residing in those troublesome and confusing years in high-school, with conflicting identities and what seemed like a weekly recurrence of existential crises was honestly what made me able to keep going during those uncertain times. So kudos to my queer mates in those years, ya’ll are the real MVPs.

Self-discovery, like the title, is such a personal self-oriented thing that really no one can or should tell you how to become more accustomed with who you are as a human. Yes I’m 18 having somewhat come to terms with my almost anti-cis identity but that is a path I was opened up to in younger years as globally we began to have the social language to describe what those feelings were. I acknowledge that I was lucky to grow up around such supportive people and environments that tried their best to welcome me with the knowledge they had, but it’ll be different for everybody who walks this earth. So if your eyes are still scattered across this page in a way which you’re taking in my story, know that I’m here fighting for representation and better comfortability in self-certainty with you. I got you darl, and I’ll never let you go.

Section 2: Scary confrontation

Here is the time to discuss the crucial component of this entire text; how one should go about entertaining the process of coming out. Now honestly, the notion of ‘coming out’ is such a dated task however it can be helpful for people to use labels to represent themselves better to others.

I can’t tell you how to come out. Even if I was an expert and had come out over 50 times I still couldn’t tell you. It’s way too personal of a journey, and no one else can tell you how to express yourself. But I guess that doesn’t make it any easier, hey. Well that’s okay, because you have a whole community of like minded queer people here to assist you along the way.

Because the truth is no one can anticipate accurately how it is gonna turn out. When I was 14 and coming out to my mom on the couch that I wasn’t straight whilst watching Home and Away (I was definitely eyeing all the hot girls no doubt) it wasn’t a planned decision and happened to slip out as the conversation deemed it suitable. So sometimes it doesn’t have to be a major bombshell that rocks the ground which you reside in.

I guess the key idea is that there is never a “right time” to come out, let alone do anything at all. Some people say it’s when you feel comfortable that’s how you know but in complete transparency when does one ever feel comfortable when sharing such a key aspect of their identity to themselves, family and friends as well as with the rest of the world?

Well reader, I trust you. So I’m coming out to you right here, right now. That feels good now doesn’t it? That relief that almost lifts the sting of shame and terror you’ve felt for god knows how many wailing years now. Life becomes much better when you continue to choose to live your authentic truth and not only admitting that to others, but also finding the peace within your own being to accept who you are.

Although I’m not a gender expert, I’ve come up with a couple encouraging tips for maybe how one can feel more certain in their decision to come out, whoever it may be to.

Firstly, DO NOT feel obliged to come out. As I said before it really is an outdated idea, however some queer people enjoy having structure from labels. But if that’s not you, that’s also totally okay. You’re not broken or malfunctioning as a human for going against societal norms, “I can promise you that, love.”

Second, don’t beat yourself up for attaching to something other than the status quo. In my experience, it can take some time even just admitting to yourself that living more authentically includes rejecting gender norms imposed by our world. You are valid, and perfect and I love you. We love you.

Last, if you feel way too overwhelmed by the entire concept of coming out and it is contributing significantly to your distress, it’s a good idea to chat things over with close friends, a trusted professional or adult that you vibe with or whoever may make you feel safer about what’s going on. It’s never a bad idea to get a helping hand or an ear willing to listen in these situations.

Section 3: Awaiting the results

All in all, nothing will really prepare you for this moment. Not even a therapist to the highest degree or a micro-scientist with abilities like no other can prepare you for the reality of coming out.

I haven’t even told my parents yet. That’s what I started with. And for now, that’s what I’m ending with. It seems weird to be documenting a situation that I’m currently still anticipating. But nevertheless, it’s important to have perspective on all things in relation. In my life I'm aware of many of my loved ones who cannot “come out” of the box society has made for them choosing instead to live a safer life rather than an authentic one.

The waiting stage of this entire narrative is just as pertinent as well as distressing as the actual event of coming out. Waiting can contribute to the anxiety and overwhelm you’re feeling because it’s the final step of this expression you’ve been hiding for so long. There’s nothing wrong with concealing it for such an amount of time; I’m no saint but I’m no stranger to the process either. It’s time to live better for you. All in all it's not other people who dictate your authenticity. Give yourself the power to do that and hold it in the highest regard because no one should be able to take that away from you.

I know I’m gonna hold mine. We’re gonna hold our power together. Always.