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Articles > LGBTQ+ December, 06, 2020

The trauma of being outed

Jayne Mulindi
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8.45 / 10

The definition of outing someone is “to expose or unmask the sexual or gender identity of another person“. You never really know a person’s situation, so outing someone should never be an option. Coming out is something that is very personal and should be done on your own terms, when you feel ready! At the end of this article are some resources that may be helpful.

😊From the author, Jayne: “My short story highlights some reasons why queer people shouldn’t be outed. Information on this article has solely been obtained from different experiences that my friends and I have encountered as queer people, combined to form one story that brings out a few effects of outing someone.”

🙋Note: Names have been changed

I’m a 17-year-old girl and I go to a catholic girls’ high school…

For years, Angie and I have been close friends. She knew everything about me, except for the urge I get to kiss her every time we’re alone. Why haven’t I done it yet? Because what would it mean? Will we still be friends? Will that mean I’m bisexual? Lesbian? Pansexual? Will things be weird between us? Friday evening, Angie came for a sleepover. We spent the night side by side on my bed, talking and scrolling through our phones. I watched her laughing at a funny video and I don’t know if it was the fairy lights that set the mood or the fact that “I don’t wanna be your friend” by girl in red was playing in the background and before I knew it, I kissed her. It took me about 4 seconds to realise what I had done and quickly backed away apologising. She looked at me and after about 10 seconds of torturing silence, smiled and said it’s okay. What does that mean? Did she like it or not? I asked her not to tell anyone, shortly after, we fell asleep. The next morning she suddenly had to leave due to an “emergency at home”.

After that, things weren’t the same…

Monday morning, I said hi to Angie and asked if everything was okay at home. Without looking at me, she let out a cold “hey, yeah everything’s fine” and walked away. For the rest of the day, people seemed to be avoiding me and would awkwardly stare at me. I figured Angie told someone about the kiss. This went on for days, rumours spread fast in a catholic girls’ school where being queer is considered “abnormal”. Thursday afternoon, the principal summons me to her office. She had heard the rumours and said that the only way I’d be allowed to stay in the school is if I agreed to visit the school counsellor thrice a week. I didn’t have much of a choice. By this time my very conservative parents had already been informed by the school. They supported the idea of counselling because “such behaviour was not acceptable in this house”. The end.

Before the kiss, I was already confused about what it would mean for me if it happened, what will my sexual identity be? For many, including me, this is/was a very frustrating stage, we have no one we can talk to about this because we don’t know who to trust, especially if there are no queer people around us, so this is a silent battle that we are fighting on our own. After the kiss, it was clearly confusing for both Angie and I, judging from the awkward silence. I asked her not to tell anyone because I didn’t want anyone making conclusions about my sexual identity considering I was personally confused. She still told someone, fuelling the already existing trust issues.

Sadly, the effects were detrimental

My social life was not spared, I lost most of my friends. Rumours always have a way of getting out of hand which only increased the stigmatization I was forced to endure. Furthermore my sexual identity is my business. A person should be involved only when I choose to involve them, outing me is complete invasion of my privacy. Finally, because of the conservative nature of my home, my sexuality was not accepted with open arms, who knows if it ever will? Many queer people are in unsafe, homophobic environments. Now imagine the confusion about my sexuality, lack of a support system, trust issues, a deteriorating social life, the stigmatizion and the invasion of privacy all coming down on one person. High chances are all these factors will affect this particular individual.

Being queer comes easy for some and hard for others. You never really know a person’s situation, so outing someone should never be an option.

🏳️‍🌈A list of links to resources and advice can be found here, via the BeYou Project, a safe space for young people who identify as LGBTQ+

🏳️‍🌈If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:

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  1. Lucy

    I think… you are perfectly right. Being outed about your sexuality without your consent is a very serious matter

  2. Shery

    love how you show from different perspectives to get the point of gender interpretation.