A Hundred Thousand Names: National Coming Out Day

by tigermanifesto

Hundred Thousand Names cover

Every once in awhile, I get the feeling that someone is watching me. I look expecting to see someone standing in my footsteps. I cower on the tram, desperate not to make eye contact. These moments are rare and fleeting, but they persist months after coming out as a woman to everyone close to me.

Unfortunately, heteronormative assumptions make it difficult to present a plausibly feminine appearance. Gender presses all of us into narrow coffins, straitjacketed into stitched shirts and pocketless dresses. Cis women and, to a lesser extent, men of all shapes, feel its sinister gravity. And all of us do an excellent job policing ourselves and others. Intensity varies from person to person, but we’re all orbiting it to one degree or another. My own orbit has been rather elliptical and cold.

Coming out puts others’ maps into disarray. We saw you here once, and now you blink and you’re here! It provokes a crisis, but it’s difficult to see ahead. For all those who are trapped in the mire, unable to make any move or charging forward in a terrible rut, I cannot offer much comfort. None of us need to make this journey alone–well, it’s a wondrous thought, though we often feel more isolated than we are.

On National Coming Out Day we shuold all remember that we’re coming out into a world just as frightful and chaotic as we saw from inside the closet. Our liberation and the liberation of all humanity––a communist process––must be the guide we take as we walk into the trackless space.