Coming out day symbolizes much that’s wrong with contemporary gay & trans politics. Certainly there is nothing wrong with individuals “coming out,” but when coming out becomes a mandate for everyone we must ask:
1. What does it mean to prioritize queer visibility in a political climate where visibility for most queer and trans people of color = surveillance, homelessness, violence, criminalization, and incarceration?
2. What does it mean to make the onus of liberation on the individual (you! come out!) versus the system (you! eradicate the closet!)?
3. What does it mean to compel people to come out when we do not have the infrastructure to support them (homeless shelters, radical foster care, finances, emotional support, jobs, etc.)?
4. What does it mean when the state uses our visibility to pinkwash itself and justify its war and imperialist policies?
5. What does it mean when not being ‘out’ is associated with being repressed/self-hating rather than being strategic and discerning?
6. What does it mean for coming out to be the only way many LGBT people get involved with movement struggle by proudly announcing themselves and then subsequently participating in economies, politics, and logics that further oppress the most vulnerable members of their communities?
I often means that when you say ‘gay rights’ what you mean is a politics engineered for cis white elites for whom it doesn’t only “get better” but it “gets bourgie!”
There is no one way to exist or look queer or trans. Many people negotiate identity and visibility within the context of extreme violence. We have to honor what people do to keep safe and not establish hierarchies that conflate authenticity with visibility.