Daniel Kowalski, the Australian swimmer who snapped up four Olympic medals in the 1996 and 2003 games, came out today in the most public of ways — in a newspaper column. Now working as an athlete career education adviser, he writes, “I finally accepted my sexuality at the end of 2006 following a huge anxiety attack at work. After what were literally years of torment, denial and very, very dark times, I couldn’t live a lie to myself any more.” That’s great stuff. But you know what we’re tried of? Announcing various people have “come out.”
“Coming out of the closet” has reigned supreme as the phrase to describe a gay’s acknowledgment to friends, family, and the public that he’s not a hetero. (It’s also used, of course, by our transgender brothers and sisters.) And for about a hundred years, it’s suited us well. But now it’s time to retire the phrase.
It’s antiquated. It’s passé. It’s tired. And every time we hear about someone “coming out,” we cringe. Coming out of the closet? Is that really the best we can do — to intimate that we all need to bust through the wood paneling of our wardrobe — to represent what is both a significant and, increasingly, unremarkable process?
Our search for a new phrase, of course, does nothing to diminish the coming out process. It’s a required step for any LGBT to denounce the stigmatization of their identity, and to embrace just one more part of who they are. That so many of us are coming out each day does more to normalize our tribe than any legislative effort ever will. And yet, to say we are “coming out” props up the notion that we’ve had something to hide. That we’ve been hunkered down behind closed doors, ashamed of ourselves. That we have something to admit.
We don’t. We’re just being as honest about ourselves as heterosexuals always have been. And we would really appreciate it if the term used to describe our acknowledgment of our identity — the “closet” — didn’t automatically imply that we’re fashionistas.
So let’s find a new phrase, a new term, and new Wikipedia entry to describe the coming out process. It should be short, easy to say, memorable, and not the faggiest thing you can think of. Some first, and admittedly lacking efforts by Team Queerty have yielded “gannouncement/gannounced” (too much of a play on words); “way big/gone way big” (too non-specific) ; “D-G’d,” as in “DeGeneres’d” (too celebri-fied); and “said hi to his mother” (should we really let Andy Samberg control our vernacular?).
Surely, you can do better. And to test our your new token euphemism, give it a real-life whirl: “Lance Bass _______ on the cover of People.” “Ricky Martin upset so many straight girls by _________.” “I can’t wait till Zac Efron _________.” (Please don’t use that last one as an excuse to list your sexual fantasies with Mr. Efron.)
Let’s crowdsource the crap out of this one, people. And hope that by the time October 11 rolls around, we’ve got something more creative to celebrate than Coming Out Day.
We’ll collect your efforts over the coming days before putting the best choices to a vote. And then we’ll embark on rebranding the coming out process, ’cause we’ve got nothing else to do.