I’ll back up a bit first. I am not ‘out’ in the traditional sense in that everyone knows that I am not straight and it is violently obvious within five minutes of meeting me. There is a large group of people that knows about my sexuality, and a large group that doesn’t.
There are many reasons for this depending on the situation. I identify as a (mostly heterosexual) pansexual genderqueer ‘male’ that happens to be dating a transgendered male. I don’t view this as especially abnormal and thus don’t feel the need to broadcast it. However, it is also a description that comes with a fair amount of explanation. Sometimes others do not want to take the time to grasp such concepts, sometimes I do not want to take the time to explain them. And my decision to not broadcast my sexuality has a personal note. It has been intriguing to go ‘undercover’ as a non-straight individual and have access to others’ unaltered opinions of LGBT (opinions they might have censored if they knew more about me). It has also been intriguing to come out to certain individuals to gauge their reactions, and to take into account what they do and do not know.
It has been a pretty mixed bag observing how others’ view LGBT. I’ve had a male coworker blurt out “I hope no one is gay, that would be uncomfortable,” and a female acquaintance respond with an admission that she is “very bisexual.” I’ve had a male client look at the picture of my partner and I and respond with a confused “what’s the situation here?” and two female coworkers take everything in stride. I’ve heard gender-nonconforming-phobic comments from others at work, and ‘fag’ thrown around at hockey (I think without any real regard as to its LGBT implications).
Overall the underlying feelings have been mostly positive. I haven’t encountered what has grown to be the modern definition of homophobia (LGBT-hate), only homophobia in the classic sense (fear or uncertainty in how to approach a demographic one hasn’t spent much time around). Given that I work in a rural, conservative area (albeit in liberal New York), this is somewhat surprising, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. Once you put a human face on something (and a lot of people know someone who is LGBT), it becomes a lot more difficult to argue against their rights and well being.
I will probably strive to be more open and forthcoming in the future. Being selectively closeted is beginning to outlive its usefulness in its insight into how people view sexuality, and my time in this conservative community is ending. I would like to continue to be more active in the pro-LGBT movement and part of that is putting a face to my words (and vice versa).