The Repetition of the Coming Out Process in Daily Life
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Coming out is often thought of as a defining, one-time event in a queer person’s life. For many, however, the reality is that they must constantly renegotiate their identity and determine who they will ultimately reveal their identity to and when. Power structures have determined that those who choose to remain closeted by not “confessing” are at fault and deemed to be untrustworthy. This study utilized qualitative in-depth interviews with queer-identifying individuals to explore the ways in which people determine how and when they will come out. I found that compulsory heterosexuality and safety were two driving forces behind queer individuals’ decisions to come out. Those who were consistently misidentified as heterosexual felt compelled to disclose their identity to others, but ultimately prioritized their physical and mental safety above all. Finally, contrary to the popular model for coming out, queer individuals felt as though their coming out process never ended and simply started over with each new person they encountered throughout their days. Despite the general narrative defining coming out as a once in a lifetime event, actual queer experiences differed greatly. The coming out process is never truly complete and is something that will persist throughout their lives as they encounter new people and situations every day.