Out of the Closet (and into the Fire)

*Content warning for mentions of religion, the use of the f slur, implied bullying/harassment.*

I don’t think I ever considered being anything but proud.

“Pride is one of the seven deadly sins, you know.” My utterly pure of heart, bible-thumping classmate once told me in our third-period history class. Unprompted. She looked so earnest when she held my gaze and told me, with such conviction, “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

At the time, I wasn’t entirely aware of the closet. I hadn’t been raised by or around any out LGBT people. I was at a loss for terminology or any markers of identification, of any sort, that would allow me to feel the strength of the communities this peer of mine decided I was a member of, other than the slurs other classmates called me across the hallway and in the bathroom. 

I smiled at her and told her I would “do all three of them.” She didn’t talk to me for the rest of the year.

This wasn’t the first nor the last time I was accused of some apparent crime I wasn’t aware I was committing, but it was one of the funnier times. I didn’t always get off so easy as being ignored, but I never ran. How could I? Somehow, I had become the only out LGBT kid in my entire middle school. What if there were other students, like me, who needed to see someone like them who stood up for themselves?

There’s no right or wrong way for the individual LGBT person to cope with being outed. We don’t get a welcome package or a magic letter from an owl. There is no shame in remaining in the closet when confronted. I’d stand sentry at every closet door if I could. I admire the strength and bravery of everyone who waits for their opportune moment. A decade ago, I simply didn’t see that as an option for myself. I did the only thing I know how to do, which is come out swinging. 

What a mistake, too, attempting to get between an LGBT person and their god. As if I hadn’t been baptized in my own blood. As if the closet wasn’t my church, my confessional. In some ways, the closet door flung open itself was divine intervention. Let there be light, cast across all the corners I’d been trepid to embrace. No more hiding. The classmate had been attempting to expose a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But I’ve never worn wool, and honestly, my bark is worse than my bite.

It wasn’t all shame and fear in being out. I had steadfast friends, most of whom would come to confide in me about their queerness. Others, still, good allies to this day. I am grateful beyond words for my found families in times like those. My fellow wolves in a pack of strays. They stood up for me or stood next to me when I first stood up for myself. We were disciples of faggotry.

Coming out has never been, and never will be, a one-time experience. Sometimes I come out on purpose. Sometimes I come out on accident. But being outed? Having that human right to my own agency and autonomy taken away from me so many times? As if a stranger could take something so personal and pervert it to make me the villain of their story? So be it. I will be the hero of mine.

The capital vices are a checklist, as far as I’m concerned. Seven is my lucky number. 

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