Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Yay, you're gay! Comings out and diagnoses

You know how, when people ask "how are you?" they generally want to hear "fine thanks and you?" What they generally aren't looking for is "not too bad; searing pain in my right shoulder, excruciating stubble rash - should have changed that razor blade - killer period pain but very much enjoying not being on the pill, super-tired, knitting an awesome scarf out of silk and baby camel, just realised I'm on the downward swoop of An Episode Of Depression, have a massive craving for bananas, and yourself?" (But then I am the queen of overshare.) Or, for that matter, "pretty good, recently realised I'm gay", or "awesome, finally got diagnosed with Asperger's!"

A friend has recently come out. Which made me notice that although at least half the people in my Social Circle are not straight, this is the first official Coming Out I've ever been party to. Back in my foolish youth, it was always pretty much assumed that everyone was flexible in their gender-related kissing decisions - which is fucked up in itself; still normative, just to a different norm - so no one made any grand declarations, they just got on with prodding whichever combination of genitals seemed like a good idea at the time, with or without the lubricating influence of Asda value vodka. (Oh, the memories.)

When my sister introduced her then-girlfriend to the troops, the only familial blowback she got was from my Granny, who was mostly just annoyed that no one had told her. Her response was, "Well, I didn't exactly send out Change of Sexuality cards."

Which was not only a great line, but also potentially a great idea: "Congratulations on your newfound sexual identity! Wishing you the best in exploring your sexuality - I've enclosed a fiver towards buying that hottie down the Rose & Crown a drink. Love, Mum." Fuck it, we've commodified every other major life experience, why not add 'deciding which gender/s you'd like to sleep/romance with'?

In similar news, a colleague has shared her recent diagnosis of Asperger's with the office. Rather than being framed as an occasion for pity, for 'get well soon!' or 'there there', it's been presented as a positive thing. Several people have offered congratulations on getting a diagnosis - which is invaluable in identifying and negotiating accommodations and whatever medications or therapies might improve one's quality of life - and said how keen they are to read up on the condition and learn how they can adjust working practices to accommodate her specific needs.

Diagnoses are almost universally framed as negative (as if you didn't have the condition before it was made official); comings out as either neutral or negative. But in no small part they are both experiences to celebrate: finding out exactly what it is that makes you feel rubbish, and gaining access to the tools to make it better? Awesome! Figuring out what it is you're looking for in a relationship, and what/who it is you want sexually? Brilliant! If that's not something to throw a party for, I'm buggered if I know what is.


  1. Knowing people who are struggling with undiagnosed health issues, finally putting a name to the affliction can be a hell of a relief.. and a vindication when people don't take you seriously or tell you 'it's all in your head'.

    Next time someone I know comes out, I'm going to make a card.. why? because fuck hallmark.

  2. Cripes, yes, I'd be over the moon if I finally got an Official Diagnosis, even if it didn't come with a cure attached.

    I think Coming Out Parties/Cards/Kissograms are definitely an untapped market...