NCOD logo designed by Keith Haring
Zan Thompson, Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator
TW: physical assault
I did not come out to family, friends, or neighbours until I felt safe enough to be open about my gender identity and sexual orientation. I don’t know many members of the black 2SLGBTQ+ community who thought, “today, I think I’ll call everyone I know and tell them what part of my sexual orientation or gender identity journey I’m on.” In fact, the pressure of coming out makes many people feel anxious. All of us don’t experience the same level of safety and support. If we are staying with family, how do we know if we’ll have somewhere to live after we come out?
Coming out is largely a part of life for people who feel safe or secure enough to tell family, colleagues, and other members of the community they are 2SLGBTQ+ identified; however, that is not the way for everyone, whether they choose to come out or not.
In The Bahamas, I remember going to a house party and casually discussing how I got physically assaulted in the parking lot of a LGBTQ+ bar. One of the listeners who was also an LGBTQ+ identified individual told me I was not discreet enough about my sexual orientation. During that time, I didn’t feel like I was as out as I wanted to be. I replied, “I shouldn’t have to be discreet about who I am.”
After seeking protection in Canada in 2012 because I was physically assaulted for being LGBTQ+ identified, my self-acceptance journey progressed. While attending Toronto Film School in 2016, I walked past a class at the end of the hall of the campus near Dundas Square. I remember this person introducing themselves to the class. They told the class their name and then said, “and my pronouns are they and them.” Two emotions rushed into my chest: excitement and regret. When would I take a stand for my transness? After all, I moved to Canada to be protected from violence. Did I feel safe enough?
I remember the day I graduated film school. I stood in my living room, and I cried. I wasn’t busy anymore with photography, editing, set design, or production assignments. I had to face myself. If I couldn’t come out to anyone else, I could at least come out to myself. In my mind, I knew who I was, and I understood why I was afraid.
Since then, my coming out as a trans man has been a challenging journey.
I started working as a video technician after I graduated. It was the closest job I could get to working with cameras. I really love cameras.
I made a choice to identify as he when seeking employment. I regretted not using my preferred pronoun in film school. I was not going to repeat that mistake. I used my biological name because none of my documents had any name changes, but when corresponding by email I was he, and in the interview my pronoun was also he. I was so happy to experience this gender identity liberation.
For everyone, being Out can take on different meanings. Being out can even start from someone admitting to themselves who they are. It doesn’t look the same way for everyone, but I think self-acceptance gives peace of mind and will lead to a happier life.
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