In LGBTQ+ circles, it seems like everyone has an opinion about coming out. That makes sense, of course. Coming out is a huge issue in our lives, often one we are forced to reconsider over and over again. It’s also a very personal decision to make, as there are so many factors to consider.
Coming out completely is often touted as the best choice. Don’t hide who you are! You can be yourself! If we all came out, people would see that we are everywhere and nothing to be afraid of. More people coming out would help LGBT+ youth feel safe expressing themselves. It would further the cause of human rights, in our own countries and around the world.
During my first year in Taiwan, I went to hear a speech about coming out at work. The speaker talked about how important it is to be out and proud, so our employers can see how many of their best workers identify as LGBT+. He said we should join LGBT+ groups at work, and if our companies don’t have such groups, we should start them. If companies are not supportive, we shouldn’t want to work for them anyway. We will show them that they’re losing good employees, and they’ll have to change their ways!
Unfortunately, coming out also has many downsides. Coming out to our friends could mean losing them, which can be an especially huge blow if it happens with multiple friends at once. Coming out to family is potentially even more painful, because in addition to losing their emotional support and love, some LGBT+ people lose their homes and financial support. And coming out at work could - depending on the company you work for or the laws where you live - result in unemployment.
After the talk I mentioned earlier, there was some time for comments and questions. The consensus from the majority of the audience was that while coming out at work sounds like a good idea, many people don’t have the luxury of simply finding a more supportive employer. Whether for financial or career-related reasons, we may not feel we have the option of leaving a job just because that employer doesn’t support us in our personal lives.
As for me, I have been generally out of the closet since I was 18. If it comes up in conversation, I rarely hide the fact that I am gay. However, I don’t think that makes me in any way superior to someone who isn’t out. I recognize that I am privileged in many ways, so it has been relatively safe for me to come out, personally and professionally. I came out in a country that has many anti-discrimination laws for employers, which are strictly enforced. And while it is always scary to come out to family, I was relatively certain that my family love me unconditionally and would support me no matter who I happen to be attracted to.
I’ve also recently realized that being out most of the time is, in some ways, how I protect myself. When I first came out, many of my friends stopped speaking to me. That hurt me more than I would like to admit. Now when I meet new people, casually mentioning it gives me a quick glimpse into how they feel about homosexuality. Their reactions indicate to me whether or not it’s a problem for them. This way they also tend to self-select. Sadly, if someone is going to cut me out of their life because of my sexual orientation, I would rather they do it before I get too attached.
Ultimately, I believe coming out is an individual choice. There are many ways to do it, and we can be completely closeted, completely out, or somewhere in between. Each person’s decision about this is influenced by numerous and nuanced factors. We simply can’t say what is best for someone else. Whatever our friends’ choices are, the most important thing is to be supportive. In the end, we’re all in this together.
大多數人會認為完全出櫃是最理想的狀態。不要把自己隱藏起來嘛！做自己，好自在！如果我們都從櫃子裡走出來，其他人就能看見我們身處在社會上的各個領域，也就見怪不怪了。隨著有越多 LGBTQ+ 的人們出櫃，也能夠讓年輕的族群對於呈現真實的自我感到放心。這也能喚起國內，甚至是全世界的廣大群眾，於人權更深廣的理解。
我來台灣第一年的時候，去聽了一場關於在職場出櫃的演講。講者提到一個人在職場出櫃並且以同志身分為傲是何其重要；因為如此，雇主才會知道他最好的員工當中有多少人是同志。他也講到，我們應該要加入公司當中的 LGBTQ+ 社群。若公司內部還沒有這樣的團體，我們就應該要創立一個。倘若公司方面並不支持這種社群的存在，我們也不必留戀這份工作了。因為我們會讓公司知道是他們損失了一批好員工，他們應該要開始改變他們的思維和作風。
但不湊巧的是，出櫃本身也帶著一些不利的因素。向朋友們出櫃意味著我們極可能會失去一些夥伴；若一次失去一票人的話，想必這種打擊非同小可。向家人出櫃就更艱苦了，因為除了可能會得不到精神上的支持與關愛之外，有些 LGBTQ+ 族群還可能會因此被趕出家門，並且完全被截斷經濟支援。至於在職場上出櫃嘛...就要看公司內部的狀況，或是居住地的法律規定如何，最糟的結果就是員工因為同志的身分而被解雇。
上述提到的那場演講，他們在會後安排了提問時間。大部分的觀眾都有個共識 ── 雖說在職場上出櫃聽起來是個滿好的主意，但也不是大家都這麼幸運可以輕易找到一個那麼支持LGBTQ+族群的雇主。無論是為了要餬口飯吃還是為了職涯發展，我們大概不會覺得自己有本錢能單就老闆不支持我們，而決定辭職不做了。
(翻譯：Lili ; 編輯： Andrew Wang )