coming out: gay vernacular term to refer to the developmental experience of acknowledging to oneself and to others that one's sexuoerotic orientation is homophilic and homosexual.

Dictionary of Sexology Project: Main Index

1989 East German film which claims to be the only film ever to come out of East Germany dealing with homosexuality. Premiered in Berlin on the day the Berlin Wall fell.

The film tells the story of a young high school teacher. He begins a relationship with a female coworker, but is plunged into confusion after encountering a friend from his own high school days who he had been sexually involved with. At a gay bar, he meets another young Berliner and they become involved. Eventually, his girlfriend finds out, and in classic depressing German cinema ending, he loses his boyfriend, his girlfriend, and his job.

There's no reference to the German title in the film, on its packaging, or on IMDB.

I attended my coming out party in 1999.

No, I'm not gay. Rather, in Southern Pennsylvania we still do that whole debutante thing.

The modern-day prom held at the end of high school was originally started so that middle class girls could also participate in this ritual.

The figure of the debutante originated in Europe during the 1700's, when young women were introduced to court gentlemen, ladies, and the monarch. The purpose of this was the coming of age-- transformation of a girl to woman, letting others know that the woman was now eligible for marriage.

This sociological phenomenon is mostly based on biology and the instinct to find the 'best' possible mate to carry on one's genes. It's found mostly in advanced, higly stratified societies such as the ones found in Europe or Asia, where both men and women have status to confer on the other upon marriage.

Though now, it's just a huge money bath.

Tradition says that a girl should be escorted by two men-- one civilian and one military (usually a cadet from a military preparatory school). It's hard enough to get guys to come to these things as it is-- so nobody really does this anymore.

There are two types of debutante parties, both traditionally a dinner ball. Earlier, such as in the 50's to 70's, it was appropriate to throw a small luncheon or tea, but with the advent of 80's excess, the dinner ball became another vehicle for conspicuous consumption. The mass coming out is often an event to show off to other families, and it takes some of the pressure off of the debutante. The most presitigous is the International Ball, held each year in New York and Vienna, which allows the girl to come out not only in American society but European society as well. The other is the private debut favored by snobs in Boston and Philadelphia, who view public parties in poor taste.

The public parties are usually done for benefit of a charitable organization or part of an 'Assembly' like in Philadelphia, and can cost thousands of dollars a plate-- private parties can run much, much, higher.

However, nobody really cares anymore.
Coming out, in the gay sense, is not an easy thing to do, but it can certainly be very rewarding. Many gay activists think that queer people will reach equal social status only if the majority of them come out of their closets.

Coming out is usually a gradual process. First, one comes out to him/herself, which can be a daunting task. Years of being told that being gay is wrong, sinful, disgusting, weak, and a host of other negative things, leaves people often hating themselves and trying anything to ignore their feelings, anything to be just like everyone else. The first person people come out to is usually a close friend and then they slowly tell their other friends as their confidence grows. For most people, the two hardest parts of coming out are taking the first step and telling that first person, and then most stressful of all, telling one's parents. Telling one's parents can be such a frightening prospect that many people never do it, even as their homo/bi/sexuality becomes blatantly obvious.

I've heard some straight people say that the whole coming out process is rather pointless.
"You don't hear straight people going around to their friends saying 'I have to tell you something... I'm straight'!"
Of course straight people don't do that, they don't have to; everyone just assumes they are heterosexual, by default.

"But why do you have to tell me what you do in your bedroom?" is another question that gets asked a lot.
Being bisexual, gay, or lesbian is not about sex, at least not completely; rather, for most, it's about who one falls in love with, who one dreams about when they close their eyes, the kind of person one wants to spend his/her life growing old with. Yes, sex does play a part in sexuality of course, but it's only a piece of the puzzle, not the whole picture.

Many times people choose to come out when they've met someone special. They naturally want to share their happiness with the important people in their life, they don't want to sneak around as if their relationship is some sort of dirty secret. More recently, coming out has become a part of the experience of becoming an adult. People are coming out at younger and younger ages every year.

Coming out can be very liberating. For me, coming out made me feel alive. I'd been hiding my feelings for as long as I could remember, being afraid of them, being ashamed of them, just hoping and praying that they'd go away. One day, I just couldn't hate myself anymore. I took a good hard look at myself and discovered that trying to live my life for other people wouldn't get me anywhere, and slowly I came to accept myself. The relief of knowing that I wouldn't spend my entire life alone feeling the way I used to feel was like being reborn. Eventually, I told my best friend and she was really supportive. Over the next year I told my other friends, and about two years later, I told my family. It's been a few years since then, and being gay isn't such a big deal to me anymore. Sometimes it's hard for me to imagine what the big deal was back then, but it was a big deal, and I'm glad that I won't have to do it again.

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