Stop “Coming Out” As Conservative

2/8/2018

istock/shironisov

Even though it was over three years ago, I can still recall with perfect clarity the moment I came out as bi; I was physically shaking, hyperventilating and choking through tears to get the words out to my family. It is a moment I will never forget, because in that instance my life changed forever. All of the fear, doubt, secrecy, anxiety and depression that I carried with me while being in the closet started evaporating right then and there and, in spite of the hyperventilating, I felt like I could finally breathe for the first time in years.

For me it was a momentous occasion; I’m not saying the coming out experience is as profound for every LGBTQ+ person, but I think it’s safe to say that for the majority of this community, coming out is an important milestone in finding personal acceptance.

It can take years to work up the courage to take this step; upon taking it, you have to accept the fact that there will be some level of change in your life after those words come out. They can be small or big changes, positive or negative, but changes will come nonetheless. Even though this process is often a difficult one, research has shown that LGB folks who are out have lower levels of stress hormones and suffer less depression and anxiety.

I always enjoy when I see or hear of someone coming out. Whether it’s in person or through social media, it’s nice to be able to offer a word of congratulations or, if the coming out process is going poorly, provide advice or encouragement to the person in need.

However, in our current tumultuous political climate, I have started seeing another type of coming out story; those who have “bravely” decided to come out as conservative.

Every time I see one of these articles pop up I cringe; the audacity of these people to take an important moment in an LGBTQ+ person’s life and turn it into a cheap political joke is astounding. Not only are they being insensitive to this experience, but also showcasing a severe lack of understanding and empathy for those in the LGBQ+ community who go through this often painful and difficult process.

The most glaringly obvious issue is that being gay, bi, trans, asexual, etc. is not a choice; being conservative is. Those who choose the conservative route get to look at information on issues and make their own decision based on the facts (or whatever they deem to be a fact), which is a far cry from being born into a society that shuns and judges you for something that is beyond your control.

Quite frankly, I do not feel bad for you in the slightest if you are a conservative and you feel judged; honestly, one would think that might make you a feel a little bit of empathy for the communities that social conservatives are continually marginalizing. Yes, there are different ideas and definitions of conservatism, but it is still a choice. You are not “coming out.” You made a choice of what kind of people, policies, and paths you want to support that was (hopefully) made by utilizing all available information and expecting sympathy for the result of these choices is ridiculous.

Don’t play the victim and compare your situation to that of those who legitimately had no choice in how they were born and, through coming out, can finally find happiness and acceptance. The fact of the matter is that you made a choice to be conservative, so grow up and accept that responsibility and leave the coming out process for those who actually need it.

Blaize Stewart
Blaize Stewart is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a BA in broadcast journalism and a MA in journalism. He currently lives in Chicago, IL and works as an influencer relations associate for a full-service influencer marketing agency called Faam and as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University. Additionally, he runs the LGBTQ+ blog Out Loud, a space for members to share their experiences and thoughts on current events and more.