On Coming Out in the Hobby

Today is National Coming Out Day. A day to celebrate the struggle members of the LGBTQ deal with on coming out and to celebrate who they are.

There’s a very select few people in the hobby that know that I’m gay. I mean, after all, it is a hobby that prides itself on wearing colourful clothing, hand-sewing it all, and hairpieces. Sometimes I question if we’re all borderline drag queens. It’s not that I’m ashamed of who I am, all my friends know and so does my immediate family. I even attend Pride on an annual basis.

But coming out in the hobby is similar to coming out to your parents again. These are people you spend A LOT of time with. You go over their houses for workshops, you go on long car rides, you go camping together, and you even eat out together. So when you they know you as one person, you only hope that when they find out they won’t treat you any differently.

twomen

You can’t help but wonder before saying it, “Will I be put in a separate tent? Will I be denied (the pretend) rank because of this? Will units not talk to me? Will I be kicked out of the unit?” and I think that’s why a lot of members of the LGBT community in the hobby keep their sexuality either hidden from mostly everyone or don’t tell anyone at all.

Besides the few outspoken members of the LGBT in the hobby, a lot of us remain in the shadows, content to put on the facade for one more weekend. For a long time, I was happy with that. Going reenacting reminded me of before I initially came out of the closet, before everything got more difficult. But it’s still not easy. I couldn’t talk about a significant other with gender specific terms. I always referred to my (now ex) boyfriend as “they” or “date”. My career in acting always came to use around the campfire when I successfully discussed the wonders of girls and which one was the prettiest.

I suppose there’s a point where everyone gets tired of putting up with something. I originally began writing this piece in the middle of March with the intent on publishing it today. I tossed and turned for awhile about actually posting this piece or not but I think it’s important.

It gets better. Any campfire unwilling to accept me in the evening isn’t really a campfire I want to sit around anyways. Any unit, despite how much lace on the coats, that won’t accept somebody for who they are isn’t a unit I want to be in.

The people that knew about my sexuality before this post accepted me with open arms and for once, I think this generally misogynistic, sometimes backwards hobby can be up with the times. That’s not to say some pokey militia out of a conservative area of the US won’t backlash over more of us coming out of the woodwork of the last refuge of “True Americana”, it’s just easier not to listen to the large man yelling at you.

Besides, George Washington owes the success of his army after Valley Forge to a gay man.

1939.14

General Baron von Steuben by Ralph Earl, 1786

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