On National Coming Out day, I saw a lot of people coming out about a lot of things. Most of them came out about their gender identity or sexual orientation, which I have been informed is the focus and intent of the day’s existence. Some came out about their relationship orientation if they were non-monogamous, but most of those did so in conjunction with one of the gender or sexuality outings. Some came out about their mental health, and some came out about their STD status. Again, mostly in conjunction with one of the above.
A few people, unfortunately, came out as cis and straight and those people really just cannot seem to let something be not about them for once.
I didn’t come out about anything. When I saw someone out their polyamory I thought about it and opted not to. 1) because National Coming Out Day isn’t about me, and 2) because technically I still do not identify as polyamorous, even though my relationship is and coming out about my partner’s lovestyle isn’t what this is about. When I saw someone come out about having HSV2, I thought about it, but opted not to because 1) National Coming Out Day isn’t about me, and 2) National Coming Out Day isn’t about me.
But there was another thought that went through my head. It was about the repercussions of coming out on my “phi” account on FB or here on FetLife where all of these things I might have come out about (if it had been appropriate for me to do so) would have no effect on my life or livelihood.
Am I really “coming out” about anything when I’m on the account where I’m already open and out about everything?
And I realized just how accurate my FetLife handle turned out to be. See, originally I wanted to just be “phi” but that one was taken. I tried a few different options, but in the end, went with “phi-is-me” because…rhyming.
But after last week, I had this epiphany….it was the understanding that, in a way, phi really is me. The most authentic me. The me that can be completely honest about myself and not suffer the consequences of speaking out, so I’m free to do so without fear and without holding back.
Enter this week’s #MeToo campaign.
#MeToo, I posted on Facebook under my phi account.
But not on the account that bears my legal name. Not on the account that shares friendships with my boss and my coworkers and my parents and my grandparents.
I realized that for every #MeToo we were looking at on social media, there were countless who were still hesitant to post.
Think about that, for a second.
For every #MeToo someone posted, there are countless who didn’t.
Maybe out of fear or shame. Maybe because once again, it’s a campaign aimed at raising the voices of the victims rather than a campaign aimed at exposing and shaming the actions of the perpetrators.
I’ve seen the backlash. I don’t disagree with it. I also don’t disagree with the campaign itself. The silencing of victims’ voices helps create the environment under which this epidemic continues to spread.
So I didn’t join the chorus on my main account. I don’t want to be questioned by my family, who don’t understand the concept of “boundaries.” I don’t want to have to “prove it” to my father who didn’t believe me when it happened in front of his face. I didn’t want to have to explain it to my mother, whose entry-level narcissism would make it about herself either why I didn’t tell her or how she could have not known.
I didn’t want to walk into work today and have my coworkers and colleagues treat me with pity or any differently than they ever have because suddenly they realized the magnitude of this epidemic.
So maybe I didn’t help. Or maybe I helped myself.
Either way, it doesn’t matter, because by now it shouldn’t surprise anybody to know how prevalent sexual harassment and assault are in our society.
I knew. It’s not news to me.
But, that was the point of the campaign, I guess. To open the eyes of the people who didn’t already know.
So, now they know.
What are they going to do about it?
My guess is nothing. My guess is absolutely nothing.
But their kids might. Or maybe their grandkids. And if this world lasts long enough for them to have great grandkids, ….maybe by then people like me won’t need to hide behind an alter ego.
But for now, there’s phi.
phi is me.