Monday, Thursday, they’re all basically the same.

I have been reading, and it looks as if I haven’t missed anything too earth shattering, so I’m going to go ahead and talk a little about yesterday.

National Coming Out Day. If you feel like you missed it, today’s fine too. Now, I’ve mentioned my recent troubles in the particular incarnation of the Coming Out Day service at Yale Divinity’s Marquand Chapel, but i didn’t talk about my issues with the broader concept as a whole.

What on earth could an out queer dude have against Coming Out Day?

Plenty. And thanks for asking. The first major issue I’ve got is that most everybody is out already. At least in my culture, it’s almost an aberration to find a closet case these days. But those who do are very often given just one piece of advice. Come out. Now, call me a stickler, but might we be asking, what is it about cultural constructions that have left certain individuals unwilling to be openly queer? What risks, losses, or hardships are they facing?

Second major issue. Queer politics have long ridden on the assumption that our presence is political. People are out, even outed, to maintain political and social visibility on which the success of our project rides. Why I think this is trouble can be seen above. For some members of our communities, being out simply isn’t possible because of their cultural location. For others, it isn’t the goal. Especially in connection with transgender identity, “out” politics can create unfavorable gaze, participating in the “what are they really” games of the insecure establishment that would like nothing more than to have a fix on how to label folks.

And, really, when was the last time that being gay was really transgressive? By providing “just like y’all” rhetorics, and Coming Out in the same mainstream “GBLT” activist sound bite, we risk whatever confrontational and subversive action that might have been present. If coming out does not mean coming into a broader world of openly queer possibilities…it’s just a new closet. If we are Coming Out to being a middle class, white collar, two kids, drive a Volvo person, who just so happens to unobtrusively love a person of the same sex…

Call me unimpressed.

Third major issue. Repeat above, ending with: “to maintain political and social visibility on which the success of our project rides.” What is it about visibility alone that makes it so alluring to our communities? This is another way of framing the Volvo question, as I now dub issues relating to queer adoption of straight culture. What is visible has to be part of the analysis, and I’m afraid as a community, we’ve gotten sloppy about that. I’ve written in support of Pride before, so be warned that my stance here is complicated to say the least. But my experience of Pride is that it still has more of a transgressive spirit, and has more of a possibility of creating queer worlds, not dependant on simply aping the hets.

None of this is fatal to the concept. Self-initiated disclosure is a powerful tool against homophobia. But I hope we’re asking ourselves. What do we come out from? What do we come out to?

-sly

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