The Performer

The Performer

Audre Lorde

I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coming out: Is it done when it’s done?


-To disclose, make known, to reveal, to be out of the closet.

-To state openly and publicly one’s sexuality and gender identity.

My coming out

“I did not kick my duvet one morning and decide: “What the heck, I want to be out!” It was and is still a process”.

At the moment, I am out to close family (brother and sister), a majority of my friends and colleagues.

Before then, I always thought I could make time (plan), probably rehearse a speech and then sit with the people that mattered most in my life and tell them about me. However, action rolled out faster than I had imagined because the more vocal I became on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity, of course through art, the sooner one by one members of my family/friends/colleagues somehow got to find out about me.

Every time I walked into an office to either open a bank account or register for mandatory monthly deductions, I would always meet someone that I knew. My referral letters from my employer to those offices were all branded, The Gay and Lesbian …, which of course raised eyebrows!

My participation in events such as the World AIDS Day (WAD) and International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) where pictures of me were splashed in newspapers with articles on homosexuality amongst others were no better! They were all avenues of outing the ‘queer’ in me. But at the end of the day, it was a decision I had to make.

I was tired of having my “special little self” swinging on a hanger in the closet, living a double life to please people –– which never worked anyway! It was time to be myself, time to be me, time to live and let live. But the process is far from over because someone will always send me text or mail to ask me why I am ‘doing whatever I chose to do’…only then does it dawn on me that coming out is a continuous process –– I will continue coming out for the rest of my life!

The Coming Out Process

Coming out happens when one realizes they are gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, accept themselves as that before sharing it with others within or without their circles.

Coming out begins with internal questioning on why we are into women, if it is right in the eyes of God and society or is it just a phase we are going through etc. Many questions shroud our thinking and we are left confused. Most women that are involved in networks seem to admit to being bisexuals than lesbians. Why? Because bisexual at least shows we still are “normal!” We get attracted to men when we know all these are lies that we will have to live up to someday. I do not blame us for that. For heaven’s sake we have to say all those things! It’s part of the coming out process!

Then the feeling of naivety is here to stay. With that the reality sets in. Several years down the line, our same gender loving tendencies seem to be getting stronger and more passionately lively!

The excitement of being around women and gorgeous ones for that matter becomes an everyday fantasy to “WE’. Many times we try to correct assumptions on who we really are. The good thing with this is that the pressure we continue to feel wears out with time but creeps back once in a while or when we are blue.

I read a “Coming Out” article from on Lesbian Life in which one of the interviewees looked at coming out as “more a matter-of-fact rather than the definitive revelation” of 10 years ago when she came out. This was an interesting read for me.

You may have very suspicious family that pops the question: “Are you gay” even before we decide to come out. This makes it rather awkward and we mostly end up denying that we actually are. It is honestly jaw-dropping especially if we never anticipated such. Sometimes, we may want to politely weave an answer that will not exactly mean ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

Coming out is heavy for most especially those that hear it for the first time.
Self acceptance - how long it took me to accept myself as a lesbian,
Not everyone is comfortable divulging details of their personalities especially in regard to their sexuality and gender identity. Coming out is perceived by some to be an exhausting process.

Most of us want to run away from reality, we want to dance it away. One reason we have do this has something to do with self preservation. Waiting for the right time to come out? But within us we have no clarity at all, we feel like we are not being honest to our true selves. We prefer living double lives (for those in heterosexual relationships) not because we want to but we are simply staying away from the usual backlash from family, friends and colleagues who of course have a biased opinion of homosexuality.

Tips to Coming Out by K8 Kamunde

1. The Art of timing.
Some individuals are used to forcing their sexualities and gender identities down people’s throats –– wearing their sexuality on the sleeve.

More often than not, this catches the latter unawares and we cannot blame them for their reactions after coming out to them this way! Some could raise an alarm that could trigger violence and put our securities at risk.

Others give too much information most of which is not required by whoever we are coming out to. It takes time to process some of this information and it is only wise if we take one step at a time.

One problem with most of us is that we are impatient. We want people to be accepting and comfortable immediately we come out to them! Wow! Even Rome was not built in a day, you know!

Some individuals we come out to remain unaffected; some need five minutes, others, 20 years.

Then there are of course those that were just awaiting our confirmation that we are actually gay!

Expecting someone to immediately understand, process and accept the information is being very unrealistic. We should be more willing to talk about it one bit at a time. This will allow them time to digest the information without making them feel like they are under pressure to accept us as we are.

Let me end it this way: Give people time!

2. Safe space and time
This is best illustrated by a story of a friend, Lillian.
Lillian’s first coming out to her mum was after a bad argument. The mum paced to and fro as she lectured Lillian on her behavior the previous night. Lillian had accompanied her friends to a party and never sought permission from her mother only to surface three days later, drunk and disorderly, to her mother’s dismay! During the argument the mother presumably asked what was wrong with her and she burst out at her mother about being gay…

Lillian’s timing was wrong because she was immediately kicked out of home and has been on the run ever since. What am I trying to say here? There is never a “right time and place” to come out but at least we can choose some that are better than others.

For example, telling your sister in the middle of a conversation with her friends during a sleepover may not work out. Planning and telling her when you would be spending some time alone together might find her more receptive and calmer to what you are going to say.

Pick a place that allows for someone to leave if they need to. Sometimes we do not have the chance to decide when and where we come out to someone.

You could for example offer to talk more about it later at a time and place that convenient for the parties to be involved. Few people find it easier to have a mediator who could step up and help control in case you would not want things to get out of hand. They could be vocal people who understand and are willing to speak if you suddenly are not able to speak about it at that particular moment.

Again at the end of the day, you are the only one who calls the shots so if you feel uncomfortable then you could decide to hold it to another date and time when you are better off talking about it.

3. Self preparation.
You need to prepare yourself for coming out because we could either expect positive or negative outcomes.

You do not want to be very optimistic that since you brought your girl home last weekend and she was received well by her ‘in-laws’ then its most likely that your parents or siblings will welcome your acknowledging that you are gay! There are people that are ready to come out at any time while there are those that may need a much longer time to be able to tell it.

That means then that my coming out process may not necessarily apply to someone else’s in this case. Therefore it would be wrong to try and copy or even try what someone else did. You are bound to get into so much trouble while you are still at it and trust me; you do not want to have regrets with this one. Not now, not ever!

Remember that you might be comfortable with coming out to some people now but coming out to other people in your life might take some more time. There are those that prefer doing it with friends first then with family while there are those that could do the vice versa. Either way your mind should be set and prepared for whatever reaction you are likely to get after coming out.

4. Direct Or Indirect Confrontation
Avoid making this obvious mistake lovely one! Don't send people to come out on your behalf! This has proved a challenge because whenever we feel like we cannot talk to someone then we always get a friend or a close relative to do us the favor. This has worked for some but has been disastrous for most. The impact of the message received is felt differently if heard from your mouth and from someone else’s.

Your family members/colleagues/friends would prefer it if they could hear this from your mouth, not from some big mouthed neighbor next door who will rant on and on about so and so’s daughter who always dresses like a boy and has this weird look and many other exaggerated versions to the real story! They are better able to deal with it if it comes from you. It is not the same as sending your best friend to tell a colleague at work about your pre-wedding arrangements!

It would mean more if you spoke about it yourself. This is difficult but once you decide to come out then there is no tracking back. There are certain aspects about our lives that we cannot go on hiding for very long.

There is always a snoopy cousin or your sister's cousin's friend who sees you getting cozy with another woman in a club and either takes pictures for proof or goes outside to make several informative calls. You will have to decide who you would like to talk to personally and who you would want to avoid confronting directly and use someone else to do that. Either way, tread carefully on this one!

5. Have A Plan B
This is one of the most important ones. It could be under self preparation on number 3.

You are likely to get kicked out of home if you are still dependent on your parents. You could be threatened to have schooling stopped for you if you still prefer being gay.

If you are self dependent the worst case scenario would be that the rest of your family will denounce you as one of their own. They could press the delete key on you from their lives. If you have a job then you would prefer not to come out to your boss because this may mean that you could lose your job at some point, because you are gay and your boss is having a bit of a hard time trying to comprehend this.

They will frustrate you at work so much so that the quality of the work you are doing goes down and, good riddance! They now have a reason to dismiss you from work without you claiming that it was because of your sexuality.

You will lose the few friends and or colleagues who may feel that you are bouncing towards the wrong direction.

This brings us back to being psychologically prepared for outcomes and being able to continue with whatever we have going in our lives without interruption.

6. Many Questions About The Coming Out Process Pop Up!
There are those that ask too many questions after your coming out. This should not worry you one bit. It is usual and most of us have and continue going through this.

You could even get a call in the middle of the night, hours/weeks/months after coming out and someone here probably wants to know how you make love to someone of the same sex. Or it could be that they are just asking you if these are feelings you could try to change. Another one will even talk to the local priest after church, or a counselor and make an appointment for you, without your knowledge (most parents have done this with their children).

It is just a process of getting to synthesize the information they have just received and we should respect this in every way. It is entirely frustrating, I know, to have to go through the therapy and prayer sessions but with patience and being ourselves, they eventually have nothing else to do. Many have fallen into the trap and changing to heterosexuality, in the process making homosexuality look like something one could wake up to and walk away from.

We should be willing to answer the questions to better help them understand what we are actually saying.

Of course, this does not ultimately mean that you answer questions that make you feel uncomfortable. You should have a limit on what to answer to and what not to.

You could have a friend and stranger asking a very sincere question. You could for instance choose not to answer to the latter.

7. Have Referral Source
When I came out to my late friend Phyllis, she first looked confused and torn. I could tell from her conversation that she was really having a hard time figuring things out and I asked her if she needed time for that. She declined and instead said that she would have wanted to have access to materials i.e. books and literature that directly targeted the gay community because she would want to know how to treat me. This immediately put me at ease.

People may at one time or another find the need to have people they could talk to and possibly materials.

This helps them figure out what being gay is all about.

They want to seek a deeper understanding of the issues and how they will affect them.

They want to see if this concept is one they could deal with and how to begin the process.

Some may have so many questions, some of which we may not have answers to and we need to allow them to do that.

They want to be supportive in whichever way.

Anyone who comes across such individuals should count themselves very lucky because those that fall under this category are indeed few.

By K8's


  1. WHAT!Holly Mofly Mother of Mellow Mangoes.....
    HELL NO! Coming out to my parents is the last thing SHARON is gonna do on planet earth unless other wise.
    It shall be the last paragraph on my will.Coz i intent to die testate even if my account shall be reading Kenya shilings sixty seven and thirteen cents only(ksh.67.13/=)MASTA WRITE A WILL FOR 67/= AND A CODICIL to top the thirteen cents,LoL They gatta know i was a working class men!. god! i wonder why i never won during the lowest bid thingi with Easy!
    Katey,i appreciate this article its hard to even think about it leave alone doing it.
    To all my sistahs and bros who wish to come out take heart men!
    @K8y sung ya weekend away gal?

  2. Sadly, coming out is just a never ending process Sharon! For those that claim to be out such as myself...Its a continuous process. However some feel that once they're out to their parents and friends that is the end of coming out, but Nooooo! That is just the beginning! You will always walk into offices or bars and when men hit on you, you get so disgusted and in that mood begin explaining how you're not attracted to the males...that in itself is a coming out process.
    Was informing guys that it is not a decision one wakes up and decides to come to terms with. Its useless coming out to others if you haven't come out to yourself! That people should take as much time as they want to figure things out before hastily deciding to come out!
    So, do you plan to live a lie all your life Sharon?

  3. Yeah, I sang my weekend away...I'm off today too so am indulging indoors!

  4. Haiya!
    that was fast...K8 am not planning to live a lie all my life.The thing is everyone who knows me know who i am Just my parents and i always tell my friends and my aunties to hush! not to tell my parents its a thing i want to do my self,you know the last paragraph of my will.
    Thanks k8ty, i appreciate the way you always take time to reply to the comments your fans post here. many Blog owners never do that.
    be blessed.

  5. Yeah,
    That's why am here Sharon...I am serving a community that I need to be in touch with constantly. They are my main source of inspiration...what they go through is something they do not deserve. They are the nicest people on earth I know...have met...they are my family too!
    You have very loyal family and friends...most of those others cannot contain these juicy news! Wow! Interesting!
    You are welcome Sharon, I am a servant of the LGBTI community in Kenya, all am doing is gives me the utmost pleasure Honey.
    Blessings to you too (Selassie I)
    Love K8