I’ve been thinking a lot recently, what really is authenticity?
Is it me telling you right now that I am gay? Or is it something more abstract. I ask because it comes up all the time when talking about coming out. People can come out with a whole bunch of different identities like their religion or their mental health status, but I want to tell a little about my experience coming out as gay.
When I first started to come out, I felt this just incredible urge to start telling anyone I could. And I think one of the reasons why is because of all of the YouTube videos that I watched. They insisted that the way to be your “true self” is to have this open and public identity surrounding sexuality. I don’t think this is great advice though. When I first started coming out, I stuck initially to people who I was pretty confident would be accepting of me and then started working my way through these riskier people, like my parent and grandparents. At the time, I felt like I had this responsibility to tell everybody in my life about this, what I called a dramatic change in my identity, no matter how risky it might have been. I felt like if I didn’t do it and didn’t have this new public gay identity then I just couldn’t call myself authentic, which I think is so incredibly far from the truth.
The point is that authenticity can have nothing to do with sharing details about your life with other people. Rather, it can be one that just involves embracing who you are and just being yourself. We all come from different areas, we all come from different cultures/backgrounds and it’s important to know and feel validated that not wanting to share something about yourself because it might impact your safety is valid. And that, not wanting to share something about yourself just because you just don’t want to, is also valid. We all have these ideas of the ways that we think people should express their identities because it might reflect the way that we express our identities. But I want to leave you with that there is no one way or one correct way to express yourself.