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What If LGBTQ+ People Stopped ‘Coming Out?’

Radical Ideas: #42 Coming Out is canceled

50 Radical Ideas: Author-activist Jacob Tobia imagines a world where ‘coming out’ is no more.

Coming out is, by and large, a bit of an antiquated idea. In fact, coming out stories often retrigger the queer people required to tell them. "My writing and art seek to challenge the idea that, as trans and queer people, we 'owe' our coming out stories to the world -- that the revelation of our identities and development of our selfhood must be easily and conveniently reducible to a pithy story about a singular traumatic moment," says Jacob Tobia, the author of Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story.

"I did not have a singular moment where I told everyone that I understood gender differently. Rather, I showed that to people in myriad, often-divergent ways... I am constantly unfurling my identity for the world to see. It will never be finished," Tobia says.

And to their point, straight and cis people don't have to answer to how they discovered their cishet-ness, so why should we? The phenomenon of having to boil down your trauma into an anecdote, one of cinematic value, is not just bizarre -- it's a product of oppression. The need for cis and straight folks to hear these stories is fetishistic, and at times even feels like a justification -- as if the listeners of said stories are evaluating whether you are a bonafide oppressed person or not. Why subscribe to the closet, when we can focus on ripping apart the kyriarchal structures that created it in the first place?

This is one of our 50 Radical Ideas, featured in Out's June/July 2019 issue celebrating Stonewall 50. The three covers feature the enduring legacy of activist Sylvia Rivera, the complicated candidacy of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, and the triumphant star power of actress Mj Rodriguez. To read more, grab your own copy of the issue on Kindle, Nook, Zinio or (newly) Apple News+ today. Preview more of the issue here and click here to subscribe.

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