Unclearly Queer? Hearing from Couples who are Presumed Straight/Cis

Their relationships are sometimes referred to as “straight-passing” or “straight-presenting,” though these terms can seem to wrongly imply that they’re trying to slip under the radar, when in fact, they’re not. Their statements below reveal that the assumptions made about them afford them a complex mix of privilege and erasure.

Part 1 of this interview series is below… and you can find a link to Part 2 at the bottom of this post.

(For brevity, we’ve condensed responses and/or chosen a representative selection from among the responses for some questions. All emphases/bolding are ours.)


1. What prompted you to come out and connect with LGBTQ+ community?

I was prompted to come out publicly by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando…. I had been out to a number of close friends and family members for a few years, but after that event I realized how important it was to be visible as a member of the queer community. I wanted people around me to know that they did know a queer person so they couldn’t say “oh issues like this don’t affect me or anyone I know.” (Anonymous)

I was a theology student who wanted to figure out what I believed about gender and sexuality, and as I did that, I wanted to hear from LGBTQ+ Christians, since I believe that people on the margins know more about these things and have stuff to teach everyone else. I initially wasn’t sure whether it was “legit” to claim my place in the LGBTQ+ community as a bisexual person, since I am in a straight-passing marriage, or if I should present myself as a straight ally (even though I am not straight and that didn’t feel honest). (Tara, bisexual)

Well, I haven’t entirely come out. The majority of my close and trusted friends know that I’m queer, but my family doesn’t. I chose to come out and connect with the LGBTQ+ community as much as I did because I discovered I was queer! I had never even considered that I was queer because I was attracted to men. When my theology around LGBTQ+ inclusion changed, I suddenly had the space to consider my own queerness. In discovering I wasn’t actually straight, I immediately felt the need to connect with people who would understand and who could help me begin to process. (Aileen, queer)

My partner has always known about my “same sex attractions” even before we entered into a relationship with each other. At that point, I thought my attractions would change upon entering a union with a woman, but they did not… I had thought I would be able to “ride this out” for the rest of my life, but that could have been farther from the truth. I had reached a point in my life and relationship where I could no longer “pretend” that I was straight… Looking back, what has prompted me to come out and connect with the LGBTQ community? Self preservation, survival, keeping my family safe, filling a need I have always had, facing my greatest fear, ridding myself of shame and internalized homophobia, grounding myself back to how God created me – to love others (and I didn’t know it at the time, but discovering that I am loved so very dearly loved too).  (Jordan, gay)

Marie with partner Keanan

Marie with partner Keanan

When I finally came out to myself, I wanted to come out to my friends and family so they could know me more fully, and also because I truly believe that relationships are the most immediate way to tear down prejudice… I want to be known as queer. I don’t want my acquaintances, friends, and family to think they don’t know a queer person. For myself, I want the community and “seenness” of connecting with other queer folks. I LOVE IT when I am in a space that assumes queerness first. It is so validating.  (Marie, bisexual – see photo)

2. What factors do you consider when making the decision about whom to “out” yourselves to today?

I’m very public about being bi/pan/queer, but in those cases where people are unaware… I will come out if they are also queer and would feel safer knowing; I will come out if people are genuinely asking meaningful questions on the topic; I will come out in some cases where people are being publicly malicious about sexuality/gender identity, as an attempt to offer an alternate voice to those listening. (Jamie, bisexual)

My spouse and I have an agreement that it’s okay to out ourselves to other 2SLGBTQ+ people. He’s been clear that he doesn’t want to be treated differently by my extended family because he’s trans, so has chosen not to explicitly come out to them (he’s out to my immediate family), and I respect that… Safety, our relationship with a person/group, necessity, and visibility are all factors in whether and when we choose to out ourselves. (Erin, bi/pan)

Being out to me is partly about living my authentic self and partly a political statement. I’m not quiet about my queer identity at work or in my personal life. If you want to get to know me, you’re going to know that this is a core part of my identity and how I move through the world. (Anonymous)

My partner and I only recently came out publicly, but I feel like because “Mixed Orientation Marriages” are not very common, I have discovered quite quickly that we get a lot of questions and some are not very appropriate. So with that in mind, I am personally quite guarded who I come out to, but the person usually needs to be someone I trust or someone I know that is open or understands what a Mixed Orientation Marriage is (I use this term,