Thelma Wood & Djuna Barnes

Today is National Coming Out Day. As a queer femme who has dated primarily men over the last seven years, I have found the process of coming out in my recent life fraught with privilege and complexity. This is something that is difficult for me to speak about candidly because it’s so entangled with my enduring sense of duality within my own identity and sharing it feels extraordinarily vulnerable, but here is some of it:

Once, I was a young queer femme who came out to her parents while in her first relationship with a woman and lost, for a time, her relationship with her mother. Once, I was a queer femme in long term relationships with women, who faced the peril of what it means simply to exist publicly as a gay couple in a world so often marred by hate and fear, while simultaneously discovering the sheer joy of being myself and living honestly. I have always, whether or not I’m in a relationship with a woman, struggled to find a place for myself in a queer community. I’ve always felt too femme or too bi or too fluid or too anachronistic; and being those things on top of dating a cis man for the last few years has made me feel invisible to both the queer community and straight people who make assumptions about my sexuality. I stand with a foot in both realms — the privileged realm of safety in which I can walk down the street holding hands with a man and the self-negating realm of invisibility in which I feel unseen by all communities.

Wanting to come out again today as a queer woman who also dates men makes me painfully aware of my privilege as someone who passes — but not coming out says to my fellow queers that I accept that cloak of invisibility and privilege. So I come out today and every day, on this Day of Atonement too, no matter who I am loving, as a queer feminist Jewish femme, and I see you, and ask to be seen by you.


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