Coming out. It’s something we all do at some point in our lives. For many people, they’ll come out in regards to something minor, such as their ‘guilty pleasure’ music or tv show habits.
When meeting new people, I have three things that, at some point or another are likely to sneak out of my closet like Harry trying to get out of the cupboard under the stairs.
On the surface, one would say that I look like an, albeit short, but otherwise healthy straight person. Hidden up my sleeves lye three, possibly four things, depending on how you would view it, ready to be pulled out like multicoloured handkerchiefs.
My sexual orientation, visual impairment, mental illness and epilepsy story are all lying in wait for the opportune moment to spill out of my mouth like word vomit.
As someone who looks healthy and straight, it can be hard to navigate the stormy waters that these conversations can sometimes present.
Outside of the LGBT and medical community, I have noticed that typical responses to my illness’ and disability seem to swing somewhere between shock and pity. Responses to my sexual orientation can either be seen as a regular off the cuff no bother response, usually by people who already know or are friends with someone who is part of the community or slightly more stereotypically stupid.
More negative responses usually come from a lack of education or experience around people with a particular illness/disability or sexual orientation. That doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating and a bit painful at times when these are the most common responses.
One thing that everyone with an invisible illness/disability or whose sexual orientation isn’t outwardly noticeable will agree upon is how difficult it can be in regards to how and when to ‘come out’ in any situation.
If anyone ever asks me what superpower I would want I will answer with either the ability to fly/teleport or read minds. I would love to fly/teleport because having a significant visual impairment means I’ll never be able to drive and although I have enough useable sight compared to some of my friends, travelling and using public transport is still difficult, frustrating when it’s inaccessible or not running on time and tiring. I’d love to be able to read minds to assess how someone would react to the knowledge of my disability and illnesses.
The amount of time that I’ve thought about, been concerned about or frustrated about someone’s reaction to my illness/disability and sexual orientation, even if it’s subconsciously is probably more than I spend sleeping and there are times when I could win a gold medal for GB at the Olympics in sleeping.
Don’t get me wrong I have absolutely no issue whatsoever if someone has questions. That I can live with, encourage even. It’s when people phrase things in a ridiculous, pitying, plebish, ape-like way. NO!!! I can’t say that because that’s an insult to the great apes who would probably show me more respect, humanity and decency when discussing these topics than some people do.
As I say I love it when people have questions about my personal experience with visual impairment, mental illness, epilepsy or my sexual orientation and I always find it to be a nice relaxing time when people can laugh and be humorous around the subjects.
However, ‘long deep breath and sighs’ when people say someone or ask a very limited stereotypical question is when I have an issue. It’s like their brain is like ‘NOPE THIS IS NOT A HUMAN THIS IS A TOPIC YOU MUST LIMIT THEM AND BOX THEM INTO NOW’.
People, are you FUCKING joking right now? Do I look like an object that you can dehumanise? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m not a thing by which you can strip all the personal experience away from.
I am my own story, my own individual experiences, life lessons and developments. I’m not the boxed in stereotypical ideal of any of the topics I have mentioned so far.
To say I’m completely numb to the ignorance of some people would be a lie. If there weren’t moments where it didn’t make me feel so frustrated, worthless, degraded and lifeless, well I think that would be a rather double-edged sword.
Even a simple question such as ‘what does that mean for you?’ or ‘how does it affect you personally?’ would be a welcome change to the limited responses some people give.
Knowing that for many people their first response probably won’t be one of these sorts of questions, does make me feel as if my individuality has been stripped away as if I’m nothing more than a disability, illness or sexual orientation.
There is no denying that they make up a massive part of my history, my experiences and they have shaped me as they will continue to shape me to be the passionate, timid, shy, conflicted yet stable, caring, loyal person that I am.
However, by no means do they overshadow any of my other passions achievements likes and dislikes. All have an equal share in who I am. If any are neglected or given to much power, it’ll continue to create an unstable mind and as I have mentioned in previous posts m mind is already fragile enough. I don’t need anyone else’s bullshit mindsets to contend with.
Treat me as a whole, an individual who deserves respect because if you don’t you certainly don’t deserve mine.