Nell Iris

National Coming Out Day

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Two years ago I officially came out as bisexual.

I could easily have spent the rest of my life passing as straight. I’m married to the love of my life who happens to be a guy. I met him when I was eighteen, and I fell in love with his beautiful brown eyes the moment I saw him. And now I’m 44 years old, and plan on being married to him for the rest of my life.

So why did I do it?

First of all, I felt the need to be open about who I am, and to be my authentic self. But I didn’t do it just for me. No, I wanted to come out and lead by example. I wanted my daughter to feel she can bring home a partner of any or no gender, and we won’t care as long as she’s happy.  And I want to be visible, to show others it’s possible.

I want to live in a world where everyone is free to love who they want, and that won’t happen if we don’t fight.

In more than 70 countries around the world it’s illegal to be LGBTQ+. In ten (10!!) of those countries it’s punishable by death (source).

I live in Malaysia, a country where homosexuality is against the law. Where cross-dressing is illegal, and trans people regularly gets harassed, beaten, and thrown in jail because of who they are (source and source). In this country a woman was beaten for being trans, got arrested and was forced to serve time in a male prison where she was sexually abused. (source)

I live in a country where the prime minister compared the LGBTQ+ community with the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), and said that Malaysia needs to adhere to their own version of human rights, not the universally adopted ones. (source and source)

These are all reasons to why I needed to come out.

Before I moved here more than four years ago, I lived all my life in Sweden. Sweden is considered one of the world’s most gay-friendly countries. Sweden declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 1979 (source) and gay marriage have been legal since 2009 (source). Our Crown Princess Victoria presented the Gay-of-the-year award in 2013 (source). (The clip is available here – in Swedish – watch as the audience cheers for her for an entire minute!)

Sweden is far from perfect, but all things considered pretty open-minded. This is where I grew up, so when I decided to officially come out all my friends shrugged and said “Yeah, we know, what else is new?” Someone asked “What about your husband?” (not getting divorced, thanks for asking) and a couple of ex-coworkers unfriended me from Facebook (good riddance).

And the most amazing thing of all: someone contacted me and thanked me for my courage, and said I’d inspired them to do the same! Wow!

And that was it.

Until one day some months back, when I encountered prejudice for the first time. I met someone who said they wouldn’t judge me because of their religion — who went right ahead and and judged anyway, and asked: “How can you sleep around on your husband like that? How can you do that to him? Have you no shame?”

 I was shocked. This had never happened to me before. I kept calm, and tried to explain the difference between bi and poly. My husband sat next to me, and we both said “Nobody cheats on anybody” – but no matter what any of us said, they didn’t listen. They judged and hated.

Of course this is very mild, compared to what other people have to endure. Kids being thrown out by their parents because of their sexuality or gender identity. People being beaten to death, and bullied so severely they want kill themselves. You know what I’m talking about, you’ve all read the horror stories.

One day I want all of our children to be able to bring a partner home to the family, without having to disclose the gender of the partner first. I want equal rights for everyone. I want everybody to be able to live true, authentic lives, and love who they want to love.

Let’s all help make this world a place like that!

Happy National Coming Out-day!

those-of-us-with-nothing-to-fear

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