Monday, June 08, 2009

Are You Out There

No, it's not National Coming Out Day. Or is it? Or more precisely, isn't it always?

Time had an article this last week about coming out on Facebook. The article is very much a non-article. It is space filler for an already crappy magazine (or it was the last time I read a copy a decade ago).

Coming out used to be an exhausting process. It says.

News Flash: It still is. Or certainly can be.

You had to come out again and again and again to all your friends at different times. Nowadays, even with social networking, gays still have to come out, but one of the key differences between our pre-profile selves and our new online presentations is that now (finally!) the burden is also on our friends to discover and digest our identities. For the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, Facebook et al have finally leveled the identity field, and it's kinda nice.

You still have to come out again and again at different times to your friends. There is no real difference - as they are not all finding you on Facebook all at once. And I don't buy into that the burden is now on our (straight) friends. There certainly is no 'leveling'.

Yes, you can put 'I'm in a relationship. You can even fill in the next part: with......' (fill in the blank). Is the blank supposed to be a name? A gender? What? And what do I want Facebook telling others? I'll gladly tell you my music choices before I tell you of my religious affiliation. Why should my relationship status be different?

The thing is, social networking sites are not just social. If you think Human Resources is not Goooooogling every potential candidate they might make an offer too, you're nutso. And it is not that I think many HR folks aren't enlightened to the ways of homos. But really, why would I give them that potential ammo?

I tell who I want - and how I want to tell them.

Case in point have been a few old friends I left behind decades ago. Lester, Dann and Fred both reconnected with me and I have always liked them. I'm happy to be their friend. But of course, when you're playing 'catch-up' they start with their kids, (ex) wives, etc . You feel compelled to do the same - but then again, it has been two decades........

I don't want to say I framed it like a 'take it or leave it' scenario, as I have way too much respect for them - and clearly they did for me too. Dann's response was classic (and he meant it with good humour): "Well, looking at your friends, I kind of figured....." OUCH.

To be fair, Dann was an early FB friend when I only had gay friends on there. Now my straight friends outnumber the gay ones. Fred and Lester don't care either.

I'd say it is easier to come out in this day & age, mostly because as you mature, you just don't care as much about what people think. I would have been disappointed if either of those three reacted badly - but I wasn't basing my happiness on it. There was a time that might not have been the case.

The article actually ends with a 'Dos and Don'ts' of coming out on FB. Like I'm taking my advice from Time.

Song by: Dar Williams

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