Being 'Out' Nonverbally
Some people in the disability rights community also discuss coming out - especially people whose disabilities aren't very evident in the situation they are discussing. For example, one book I've heard of (but never actually read, unfortunately) is called Coming Out Asperger. There are differences between coming out for disabled people as opposed to gay people, but there are also similarities.
One issue that some gays have been talking about is when you are 'out' verbally, but still trying not to be too obvious about it. For example, your coworkers may know you are gay, but you don't hug your lover in front of them (in a culture where a straight person might do so).
I can certainly relate to that. Just because someone knows I'm autistic doesn't mean I'll flap in front of them. It's not that unusual for me to tell someone I've only just met that I'm autistic, if it comes up. But only with people I really trust will I actually act autistic (apart from acting intelligent and obsessive).
And this can't be solved just by choosing to be out nonverbally, because there's a difference between forced nonverbal signals and real nonverbal signals. So, for example, that one pro-choice lesbian in Citizen Ruth kissing her partner in front of a bunch of Christian pro-life protesters was forcing nonverbal signals - she wasn't kissing her partner because she just wanted to kiss her, but because she wanted to shock her audience. (Note: even though I'm pro-life, I much preferred the pro-choice characters in that movie.)
But the big problem is that often worrying about your audience inhibits wanting to act the way you naturally do. If you've spent a lifetime hiding, then fear combined with self-consciousness (that feeling that you don't belong) tends to show up in acting 'normal'. So you don't feel like being out nonverbally.
What can be done about it? I'm not sure. One thing that helps is to force those nonverbal signals until they do come naturally in that setting. If it's too scary, work up to it gradually. I've found strangers are easier than acquaintances, because they have very little opportunity to actually hurt me for being different. I've mostly been hurt by social rejection, which can only really occur if you want a relationship with them.
Anyone else have any ideas?