By Spencer Spotts (FGS ’17)
In first block’s “Intimacy” issue of the Cipher magazine, Brooks Fleet wrote an article titled, “Man to Man: Confronting the Fear of Coming Out.” Although it is always refreshing to read queer writing in any of our campus publications, a response to this piece is needed for those (regardless of gender) who are in the closet or questioning their sexual orientation.
First, you don’t have to come out just yet. The process of coming out is in fact a process. Remember that this time is for you to explore yourself for you. Depending on your situation, there may be a little or a lot at risk when deciding whether it’s an appropriate time to come out. So you don’t have to rush it, and remember that you know yourself and your situation the best. The sexual frustration of your fellow queer peers is not a valid reason for you to come out.
Second, remember that everyone’s experiences are different. Colorado College may be a great place for some queer students, but it may be a living hell for others. Regardless, maybe your fear does not root from being scared to be out on our campus or that “homophobia [will] suddenly reveal itself.” One flaw in the article at hand is that the argument never de-centers itself from the mainstream view of the stereotypical white gay male and exhibits an essentialist view of identity. There are other factors that may strongly influence your decision to come out, some of which may not be typical or prevalent for the privileged majority in your community. As a first-generation student who grew up in a conservative household, my financial stability and future were huge factors in my decision to come out. Although I work two jobs and am on financial aid as well as scholarship, it still isn’t enough to cover the full cost of tuition. While my parents contribute a miniscule amount towards my tuition, I could not afford to risk losing any financial help they were providing. If I didn’t carefully take the time to come out, I would not be at Colorado College, or any other institution for that matter. I would still be living at home with an even less likely chance of escaping to a more accepting community. It is also important to consider the implications of different cultures and racial backgrounds. The possible consequences of coming out for some gay black men are much different than those of white gay men. I myself cannot and will not speak on behalf of gay black men nor will I generalize them into one group, but there are plenty of opportunities to educate yourself through printed text or online publications.
As a student body, we always need to engage in reflection when publishing student writing. We all come from different backgrounds and cannot generalize identities. I’m not discouraging students from writing; in fact, I strongly encourage more students to write in some form or another. However, we need to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with publishing a piece of writing and act as true scholars, which means reflecting upon our work before submitting it. Think about your perspective and acknowledge it in your writing. Avoid generalization. No work is value-free or objective, so own up to it.
What was an attempt to bring the queer community together and provide comfort to the coming out experience only added more pressure to those who are in the closet. If we want “a greater diversity of gay men…on campus” like the article states, then we first need to be comfortable with diversity and what that actually means.