Who’s Afraid Of Coming Out?

Kehlani’s coming out is a little bit of magic for this Friday of the pandemic. A Friday of losses. A Friday of many Fridays in a year of nameless days. At 25, the artist, activist and mom has also let us know that she’s a lesbian.

In their coming out (such a crude term, I feel), Kehlani said that they were lucky to have gone many years “under the radar” as “straight passing.”

I know what they mean by this. They means that people who ‘look straight’ (read: cisnormative) are less likely to face retaliation in their daily personal and professional lives. So-called ‘straight passing’ people may not field invasive questions or prying queries about who they’re dating, bating a sexual revelation. There is material, tangible social safety in ‘being’ or appearing straight. But it is not “lucky” to be straight. It’s lucky, I believe, to be gay.

No matter how much the world tries to put us on the outside of things, it’s lucky to feel on the inside of our world, always.

It’s lucky to build romantic friendships. Deep, loving, life-affirming friendships.

It’s lucky to know that our love and lives exist despite violence and degradation, that we repel the world’s ugliness with art and love and joy.

It’s lucky that we are committed to movement; evolving possibilities of emotional and bodily connection.

It’s lucky that our discoveries and braveries make the world and those around us a little bit more free.

It’s lucky that we learn to take other people’s judgements and build families.

It’s lucky that we show up for each other, though not always.

It is, and I understand what the musician means by their safety found in passing, unlucky to be told what you are, and to be told that you are deficient because of that existence.

It is, I imagine, unlucky to potentially jeopardize a career because of coming out.

It is unlucky that revealing themselves in a statement — what Kehlani does through song — may negatively change how listeners hear them.

It is unlucky that queer people know the bravery, strength of character, and sometimes wits-end desperation that precipitates a coming out. But mostly the bravery.

It is lucky that Kehlani has made so many of us feel seen today. That their existence is a manifest validation of those of us who have questioned our own.

Bay Area based writer and poet. Retweets: @raylevyuyeda

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