The Importance of Queer Role Models when Coming Out

With Midsumma currently on in Melbourne, I find it interesting to reflect on how coming out can open one’s eyes to the presence (or at times, lack of) queer role models that we can look to for guidance, support and validation.

In early 2015, I came out to my husband and children. I was in my late thirties at the time. Yes, I guess you could say I am ‘one of those type of persons’. You know, the one who is married, has a happy family and then, BOOM! Out of nowhere completely shakes up her world and that of all those around her. “Why didn’t she know before?” “How could we not see it?” and my personal favourite “Oh, yeah, that actually makes a lot of sense!”

Coming out at this age was the most heartbreaking experience of my life because it meant dismantling the family unit I was in that was so close and so strong. Yet, I knew I would not be true to my authentic self if I continued to remain in a situation that was unrepresentative of who I actually was. Fast forward to looking at the world through my fresh queer eyes that everyone else was aware of too. This was completely foreign to me. Somehow I had thought that coming out would be the end of all my problems, and subsequently the beginning of a smooth existence without the wrinkles of deceit. Which to be fair, it basically was in the scheme of things, yet one thing was lacking. The presence of any queer role models in my world. I think my go to’s were Ellen and the gay couple who lived in our neighbourhood. All of my friends were in heterosexual relationships, and had children and families of their own. I felt completely isolated.

Coming out with no support from ‘your tribe’ is tough. No matter how amazing your family and friends are, there needs to be validation from people who share the same components that make up You. I remember at the time searching hard for similarly aged role models who I could relate to and coming up with zilch. And then do you know what happened? I started to find validation and support in younger people. My daughters who were in their teens began to talk about their friends who identified as queer. I looked to younger people in the media who were being so open and honest and unashamedly true to being themselves. It was empowering and validating. I felt not like some outcast of her world, but more like someone who was yet to arrive to her world. As my awareness of role models around me grew, from the political arena to the entertainment industry, so too did my experiences with real life role models. Again, the first to appear were people in my daughters’ age group. Their completely accepting and open natures made me speechless and so grateful to have them in my world. How wonderful to be a young person today and growing up without a lot of the undercurrents of homophobia that existed when I was a teenager. I know undercurrents (and outright blatant currents!) still exist, but so much has also dropped away. Yes indeed. How wonderful.

As my interactions with real life, younger role models grew, so too did role models more my same age, they just took a little longer to appear. From teachers to the people in my local cafe. From friends of friends to colleagues. Humans are indeed herd creatures. We function best when we are accepted by our ‘group’. Being able to find support among your peers is vital, especially when those peers know, and I mean really know the place you are coming from. The unspoken understanding of being different to the majority of the population. This comes from the look in a person’s eyes, no spoken words are necessary.

As Melbournians gear up for Pride on Sunday, I hope you are in a good place, with contact to positive role models that bring you validation and a sense of comfort and acceptance within yourself.

Take care out there,

Love Luna xo

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