Updates from Frederick Smith, former Detroiter living in Los Angeles, and author of Down For Whatever (July2005) and Right Side of the Wrong Bed (December 2007).
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I Think I Might Be Straight
I found this "I Think I Might Be Straight" brochure, from Univ. of Florida Gay-Straight Alliance, in our office space this morning. It makes such a cute point... in that way that makes you think... and I wanted to share. This, as Oprah presents a show tomorrow (Thursday) called "I Knew I Was Gay When..."
It's funny what happens when you shift the circle of what's the norm, you get a different language and conversation... like the brochure text does... All text credit goes to the Gator Gay-Straight Alliance.
Discovering Your Heterosexuality Being heterosexual means you are sexually attracted to and fall in love with the opposite sex. These feelings are normal and natural and most likely arise during childhood. Research has not shown whether the cause of heterosexuality is genetic, environmental or a combination of the two. We know that about nine in ten people are straight. Thus, in a large group of people, there are usually several heterosexual people present.
Family and Friends If you choose to come out as heterosexual to your family, be prepared for their reaction. Your family may encourage you to get counseling or attempt to persuade you to change your mind. Deciding whether to tell your family and friends is a big decision. If you have doubts or questions, consult a counselor. Once your family and friends are comfortable with your decision, they can acknowledge knowing and loving a straight person. Parents may decide to "come out" when someone asks them when their son or daughter is "finally going to find a nice partner" or by responding to an anti-straight joke at a family reunion. If you are the parent of a straight child, you can find advice on various supportive websites.
Coming Out to Yourself Being openly heterosexual can be a challenge, but the most important thing is being honest with oneself. It can be difficult to discover you are straight; you can find valuable information by reading. You don't need to rush to label yourself as straight. For some, heterosexuality may just be something new and exciting to try, but the majority of straight people discover that the heterosexual lifestyle suits them best. They realize that a happy and productive heterosexual lifestyle is possible.
Coming Out to Others There are many reasons to come out. Some people come out because they are proud to be heterosexual, while others enjoy the opportunity of meeting other straight people. It's most important for you to come out because it's an expression of who you are. You probably want to meet other straight people for friendships or intimate relationships.
Be prepared for a wide range of reactions if you choose to come out. Your confidante may be shocked, angry or not surprised at all. He or she might even come out to you as straight! Get a sense of how the person you wish to come out to might react beforehand. For example, you might watch a TV show or movie that has straight characters and then discuss it. You might want to refer your confidante to a straight-gay alliance for more resources and support.
Being Yourself Straight people are often accused of flaunting their sexuality. In a world of fixed and rigid gender identities, coming out may be the only way straight peole can make their sexual orientation known. Yet there is a difference between being forthright and flaunting. Most straight people are not out to make a statement. They simply want to be able to incorporate the many aspects of their lives the way gay people do -- by talking about their partners, wearing a wedding ring, or putting a photo of a spouse in the office.
But Seriously: The Point of This Now that you know how it feels to have to defend your sexuality, here's how to help. First, and most obviously, be supportive of anyone who comes out. Second, don't engage in gay-bashing (verbally or physically) and don't keep quiet when others do. The world would be a better place if "coming out" wasn't a big deal and a brochure like this wouldn't need to exist.
Now... if you really are coming out, or have a friend/kid/relative who is, check out resources like the Human Rights Campaign or PFLAG, which can refer you to local or culturally-focused resources. fs