It’s something all of us have to go through. That moment, usually delivered quickly and without eye contact, when we finally tell people about the secret that’s been consuming us since adolescence. That moment when we step out of the shadows into a more honest world. That moment we finally express who we are, without censorship, with an intense feeling of vulnerability, and await whatever comes next with trepidation.
I’m talking, of course, about the moment you tell your friends you’re into poetry.
Sure, as a bi woman, it might seem heavy handed and somehow insensitive to my own struggle, such as it is, to compare something as personal as coming out to admitting you read Auden in your pyjamas, but there are certain similarities between the experiences.
For example, there’s the question of whether it’s even necessary to reveal your sexuality/reading preferences to anyone. I’ve had people, when hearing I swing both ways, react as if this revelation is an indulgence on my part; after all, if they aren’t a prospective sexual partner of mine, they consider this information wholly irrelevant, and might see my sharing it a concession to my self-image. It’s as if they think the only reason it’s important to come out is to cultivate a sort of quirky picture of my character.
My sexuality is not a quirk. It’s an integral part of my experience and there’s nothing more frustrating than people diminishing that.
Occasionally people, more often family than friends, will question the relevance of this information because they think it’s the more accepting and broad-minded course of action: “Why would that matter to me?”
I definitely get the impulse: to diminish the importance of my sexuality is to tell me that, no matter who I love, they love me; but the idea that my sexuality affects no part of my life other than my romantic endeavors is flawed. Being bisexual is as relevant to my life as is being a woman, being British, and, of course, being secretly into poetry.
Anyway, as problematic as that mindset is, it’s also relevant to coming out as a poetry reader. Why would it matter to anyone but me that I think Howl is beautiful or that TS Eliot is a genius? Plus, if I’m not specifically recommending someone a poem, it can feel like the only reason to tell people I read verses is to propagate this image of me as a cerebral deep-thinker. Generally I try and keep my reading list under wraps to avoid seeming like the most pretentious bastard in the humanities department, which is no modest title, let me tell you.
Sometimes, though, all I wanna do is go to my friends and be like, listen to this!!!!
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
As well as that, there’s a certain extent to which I think verbalising my interest in women/poetry isn’t necessary; after all, I’m constantly in a lumberjack shirt with my nose stuck in my Kindle – pretty much flaming.
That said, bullshit blogs aside, I’m trying to live a more honest life, which involves being more vulnerable and upfront about what makes Rosie Rosie – namely, gayness and Plath.