Coming out to the world may seem like a very gratifying endeavor. The promised reward is the freedom that comes with true self-expression, a confirmed self-identity, and a wonderful new world. At first it may feel this way, but the reality is, well, complicated.
I came out when I was a high school freshman, and I felt all of these somewhat idealistic feelings. After conquering the daunting feat of revealing my sexuality, I felt I could overcome any obstacle. Since my life in the closet was difficult, coming out would mean it was going to get steadily better. And while my life did improve to a degree, my problems did not simply disappear as I hoped they would. When people come out as early as I did, many tend to lay low and others, like me, tend to wear their sexuality as a badge, as a call for acceptance.
But this badge sometimes has the opposite effect. Many of my close friends knew me from my days in the closet, and noticed how I changed from the shy, nerdy half-Asian boy, to a fabulous and powerful queen. They were disappointed in my abandonment of my former self, and many abandoned me. The sense of isolation following the loss of my friends made me realize that coming out is difficult and comes with a price.
So where do I stand now, after having celebrated my two year coming out anniversary? I am the President of the Gay Straight Alliance, and the acting spokesperson for gays in high school. I am what some would consider popular in that many people look to me to be strong. Being in such an office, I am less freed by my openness, as burdened by it.
Today, I am overwhelmed at times by the feeling that I constantly must represent the gay community; I feel like the token gay, expected to act a certain way, dress a certain way, and love certain people in order to represent the gay community in the best light. And in this job of being out of the closet and proud, I am burdened. So coming out, while it can be freeing, isn't all it's made out to be. Coming out is, in a word, well, complicated.