Today is Coming-Out Day at the Scoop. Coming-Out used to be just for LBGTQ’s, proclaiming their sexual identities to a religiously hostile culture.
However, it had over time, grown to be a common occurrence, so much so that I once overheard:
“I want to let you know, Lisa, that I am lesbian! I have struggled with this identity -”
“Please, spare me the hells! I’ve had three friends ‘come out’ this week, and I’m tired of listening to their damn spiels, like they are someone fuckably special! In fact, on this so-called ‘coming-out’ day, the person who I was dating told me ‘I’m gay,’ and then next day, told me ‘Oops, just kidding!’ Well, oops, I was just kidding about our relationship!”
Naturally the queers were horrified at this lackadaisical attitude and sought to restore sanctity to the act of Coming-Out. After many tea-seeped discussions in the padlocked, rainbow-colored “safe space” in the Department of Soulmates, they concluded that Coming-Out met a chilly reception because what fun is Coming-Out if it is something that happens to many of your friends, but not to you? Why should coming out be restricted to sexual identity? Are we not all affected by a phantom identity that we imagine other people imagine that we have?
Tonight, the Scoop is packed yet quiet. Tonight, you do not need a membership to get cookies, and the bakers are working overtime, their ovens filled to capacity, their arms sore from mixing batter. The chairs are all taken, even the baby stool, the chair that folds when one tries to sit on it, and the dangerously unstable uni-chair. Hanger-bys sit on the floor, here to listen to their classmates reveal their secrets, armed with notebooks, because it is very impolite indeed to forget a person’s new identity, and there are so many people.
Some of them look unfriendly behind their dark sunglasses and padlocked notebooks with monstrous-looking skin - the secretaries, perhaps, of the more traditional religions, here to append names to their ever-growing blacklists. They, too, are welcomed to the Scoop and given rainbow-colored mugs and cookies with generous doses of (all-natural) food coloring. After all, hostility only heightens the stakes.
Lena in eir rainbow-colored hair, and Robin with its arms on its hips1 , stands at the center, and tells the story of how hard coming-out used to be.
“Everyone has been leaking their true identities, but tonight is the night to unplug the dam!”
The Speaking Stone passes and everyone talks, one by one.
Some say simply their new identity - or the identity they always had but never revealed. That is the only required statement. Others spin out entire stories, the dilemma of deciding. There are gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals.2 There is the standard slew of major changes. The ones that cross the largest chasms get the most applause, especially from the welcoming side: literature to mathematics, engineering to philosophy, technology to music. People whose paths cross in different directions clink cups together, “let’s talk sometime.” There is another slew of religion changes. Some give tortured stories of the lies and questions that have weighted them down through childhood, and the light of Rationality that saved them; others talk about how they escaped the analytically stifling culture around them through the infinite embrace of the transcendent.
Here are some highlights.
“Up to this point in my life, I have said yes to everything. I have said yes when my mom said, ‘I think you should go to Philosophocle, that’s way better than Princeton, I’ve never even heard of thata place!’, when my roommate asked me, ‘Can you clean my room for me?’ and when Rhina asked me, ‘Would you like to build a snow-giraffe?’ From today on, I will say NO to everything. Someone, ask me a question!”
“Will you say no to this question?”
The wannabe naysayer opened his mouth and hesitated for several seconds. A big grin spread over the asker’s (an amateur Logicist) face.
“NO!” the naysayer shouted.
The Logicist fainted, and everyone else clapped.
“I object to this ceremony on philosophical grounds! All binary distinctions are illusory! There is no male or female, unisexual or bisexual, Creativist or Uniformist, day or night, reality or illusion. There is no color! There are no words! There is only the One!”
Everyone looked at each other confusedly, before realizing that the speaker was not, in fact, coming out as anything, and he was speedily escorted off the premises by the campus police.
“This will be the last Scoop cookie that I eat. From now on I am vegan.”
A student holds up a sign, “I will now be silent.”
“I used to be part of the Society for Traditional Family Values, and very anti-sex. However, I met a certain mysterious stranger in the Electric Eel, who convinced me otherwise. Now I think sex is a lot of fun, and I am officially a Sexist! I’ve put a posting on the Department of Soulmate’s ‘looking for sexmates’ bulletin board, please check it out!”
“I’ve wondered off the path, of my previous major, math. Now I declare: I study English, less logic gives me much more space to wish.”
“I’ve decided that I won’t be white anymore. It’s so boring! I’ve decided to be Native American.”
A girl with a computer in her arms stood on a chair and said, “I was going to major in Technology, but here’s what I think of it now,” and dropped the computer on the floor.
“I thought, why am I trying to program this mechanical mind when I don’t even understand my own? I declare that I am a philosopher.”
Dave, the techie, rushed forward and cradled the broken computer in his arms. “Do you know how rare technology is on this campus??? You could have donated it to me instead!” He left for the Technology department, no doubt to gut the piece of technology for spare organs.
“Rather than be a student, I’ve decided to be a gamer. We’re having an all-nighter playing video games in the Technology room! Please join us!”
It is good that Dave has just left. He prefers for technology to be used in morally justified ways.
At the end come the people who are not so much coming out, as much as making resolutions.
“I will eat healthier!” announces an obese student, “I will be an earlier sleeper!” announces a girl in pajamas, “I won’t be a slacker, I’ll be a nerd!” announces a boy who is attempting to start being a nerd by carrying a heavy pile of books in his hands, and “From now on, I will tell the truth!” says a student who got a grade of M- (needing a moral education) in Social Ethics last term. “I’ve been a goody-goody but not I’ve decided not to give a shit about anything anymore!” announced an exchange student.3
The applause is less warm, because the speeches are less thought out. Perhaps these bandwagoners just want the free T-shirt that Lena passes out to every Comer-Out, but we give them the benefit of the doubt.
The T-shirts are blank except for the words, “I am.” Permanent markers are passed around. Every participant must then change into their new T-shirt4.
All Comer-Outs must wear the shirt for the next day. Otherwise, they will be considered to have reneged on their identity, and the Scoop bakers will give them “cold tea”, offer frowns instead of cookies, and demand “Who do you think you are?” rather than greet them with “Hi! Welcome to the Scoop!” Shu-Gar, the Scoop’s official memorizer, stares hard at every Comer-Out, committing their faces and characteristic speaking tics to memory.
The coming-out ceremony has a strong effect on foreigners. Many of them start crying, and mumble things like, “if only it were so easy.” We pay them no attention, except that Lauren will refill tea cups and pass out rainbow handkerchiefs. At the end, if there are T-shirts left, Lena will leave some on the table, and some of the foreigners will take the shirts, huddle over them, and write secret identities not yet ready to be shared, before stuffing the T-shirts in their backpacks and hurrying out, as if they were time bombs, which of course they are.
Its necklace reminds everyone that the right pronoun is “it.” “Why?” you ask. “It wants, at every moment to be reminded of its own insignificance,” it responds gravely.↩
The polysexuals are absent. They have their own induction ceremony, called “Coming in” instead of “Coming out”, in the secret confines of the Poly House.↩
To blank stares. American slang is challenging to understand.↩
The rainbow community is not finicky about nudity. The more traditional stand in a long line in front of the lavatory, except the farsighted few who have prepared umbrellas.↩