A question I hear posed, quite often, within alternative sex and relationship communities, is "Just how "out" should I be, with friends, family, neighbours, work, the world at large?". There are many factors to consider, the most important being, how transparently do you want to live your life?
I was forced to this question, almost two decades ago, when my community discovered, through the "confession" of a lover, that I was much more than meets the eye. In the weeks that followed, I lost much of what had been my life. My friends, members of my family, my career and livelihood. Almost everything. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. So, yes, I've lived that greatest fear. And I've survived it. Gloriously.
A few weeks after the event, I found myself kneeling on the floor, in the middle of my office, desperately panicking about what to do, and I got my answer: I could continue playing the game, pretending to be somebody I wasn't, OR I could, finally, start being real. Well, the choice seemed pretty obvious, put that way. I chose the latter. Best decision I ever made in my entire life.
Now, while it is true that your sex life is no-one's business but your own, keeping secrets about who you are, from those who really matter to you, can be damaging to your sense of self. In short, much of our hiding comes down to shame. When our choices are dictated by the fear of what others will think of us, we are not in an open, loving state. We're in shame.
If we can function well within society, living our choices privately and fabulously, great! Our sex and relationship choices really are nobody's business. But, if we live in fear of "being found out", constantly covering our asses, and pretending to be someone we're not ... well ... not so good. That's a clear indicator that we've got some work to do in coming to terms with ourselves, our sexuality, and our choices, therein.
Yes, there can be consequences to such transparency, such as a loss of some we would call friends (if so, were they really?), difficulties with biased workmates (not an easy road to walk), family disruptions (you're sure Granny will die of a heart attack, if she were to know). My own experience proves this. My losses were devastating, at the time (but, remember, I wasn't in control of the telling). That said, be aware, there are, also, consequences to wearing a facade, such as lack of intimacy in important relationships (do they know the real you or the pretend you?), the constant sense of "leading a double life" (this can be crazy making), difficulty in finding like-minded partners (hoping that they will just magically show up, with no clue as to who you really are?), and the ever looming possibility of your "secret" becoming known, through a manner not of your choosing, just like me.
Choosing transparency does not guarantee all will be well (in truth, though, absolutely nothing does). What it does do, is keep the power of the telling in your own hands. This is such an important distinction! It is an empowered stance and even though, at first, it may seem scary, it doesn't take long before the balance shifts.
My experience of being "outed" is not one I would wish on anyone. That said, my experience of living transparently and without fear is one I would wish for all. It is freedom and grace. I am neither in-your-face about my relating style, nor am I covering it up. It's just a part of who I am and I really want to be seen as, simply, me.