Most ‘not straight’ people will have a coming out story: the journey that they went on to realisation, the way in which family and friends were told. I don’t. I’m just… gay. I’m not saying that I popped out of the womb swaddled in a rainbow flag and winking at all of the other girl babies in the nursery but I’ve always felt the same way. Of course, it took me a while to realise that when other girls talked about ‘fancying’ boys they were having feelings less like my ‘some boys are okay I guess’ ones and a lot more akin to what I was thinking was just the way everyone felt about their best girl friend. Needless to say, I had a lot of what my mother referred to as ‘intense’ friendships before I worked that one out!
It was a smooth transition and my parents had never expected me to be one way or the other so being an out lesbian was probably the least interesting part of my teenage years.
I had a lot of other things to deal with anyway- bits of me would occasionally stop working, my body was in constant pain, I was persistently either injured or ill and I couldn’t understand the sounds coming out of people’s mouths… or why I couldn’t stop falling asleep! Fortunately, at 17 I managed to paralyse both of my arms for 18 months and finally got diagnosed.
Which began a long process of coming out. Repeatedly. Daily.
When people mistakenly think I’m straight and ask about my husband, I smile and correct with ‘my wife…’- it’s an easy mistake and an understandable one. The LGBT charity Stonewall estimates that 5-7% of people in the UK are gay whilst the Office for National Statistics claims it’s just 1.5% of people! So yes, I have no big coming out story but I often tell people I’m gay and it’s so far below my radar that I barely even notice doing so most of the time.
What does prickle at me is the number of times I have to ‘come out’ as disabled. If I had a pound for the number of times someone said “but you’re not disabled” I would not need to worry so much about stupid PIP assessments. I have a disability that despite attempting to hamper everything I do is generally invisible (although I don’t think the days I have to use a wheelchair or wrist splints makes it ‘visible’- they’re just my aids) so I should probably be more understanding about this. Yet for some reason, having to ‘come out’ every time I need to use something designed for disability assistance bothers me intensely.
Even those with a very visible disability still have to do this every time a plan is made with someone new: “Okay, I can be there at that time but I’ll need these adaptions because of this…”
Through making YouTube videos talking about disability and LGBT issues (along with vintage hairstyling and make up because… obviously. What’s better than a victory roll?!) I’ve found that it seems there is a higher proportion of LGBT people amongst the disabled community than otherwise. Is that just because having to ‘come out’ as disabled so often means we find opening up about other things easier?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think.