By the time I came out at 30, programs like Schitt's Creek were finally giving me the thing I didn't know I longed for at 16: everyday, comfortable queer relationshipsby Kate Young / January 23, 2020 / Leave a comment
I could put not coming out until thirty down to a number of different factors—not least half a decade of Catholic school, and a sexual assault that cast a shadow over my 20s—but a significant part of it was that I had a specific and unshakeable idea of what my adult life was going to look like. From my early teens, I wanted marriage, and a family, and cosy domesticity. In the early 2000s, in my corner of suburban Australia, depictions of this kind of relationship were restricted to cis, heterosexual couples—both in my lived experience, and in the media I consumed.
Like many of my friends who grew up in relatively conservative communities, I relied on television and pop culture for much of my wider worldview. Inevitably, long before I questioned my own sexuality, I couldn’t help internalising the representation and treatment of queer characters on my favourite shows. I watched canonically queer characters serve as punchlines (The Simpsons, Sex and the City), and canonically straight characters have “gay” thrown at them as a slur or a joke (Friends, The Office), or kiss each other solely for the purpose of titillation (Friends—again, Smallville, One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls). There were exceptions, of course: Ellen; Buffy; The L Word. But, for the most part, in the television I watched, if queer characters were present at all the functioned as a joke or faced tragic ends. I didn’t know then what I was looking for, but I couldn’t see it—myself—onscreen.
I came out publicly last summer, not long after my 32nd birthday. A year earlier, I stood on the street in joyous tears at Dublin Pride, comprehending for the first time that I’d spent my life erroneously believing I was straight. It was undeniably a moment to celebrate. But, on finally accepting my sexual orientation, I felt anxious. Anxious about the response those closest to me would have. Anxious about arriving late to the party, about being told by women I fancied that they weren’t interested in dating someone so newly out (Callie from Grey’s Anatomy went on to become the longest-running queer series regular in TV history after her introduction in 2006, but her future wife Arizona initially rejecting her for being a “newborn” stayed with me). Anxious because I anticipated ending up as a punchline or a tragedy: that my sexuality might…