Greta Christina's presentation also reminded me of a second aspect of coming out queer that would seem to apply to coming out atheist. The issue is heteronormativity, which would translate to something like theonormativity for atheists. The problem is that people in the majority do not have to make a grand announcement. It's a burden that falls entirely to the minority. There's a certain absurdity about having to disclose something personal merely because people will make a default assumption otherwise. The fact is that coming out consists of some episodes that are dramatic announcements and others that are matter-of-fact disclosures that come up spontaneously in response to a faulty assumption. You're never finished coming out until everyone you'll ever meet has gotten the memo.
I delayed coming out to my ultra-conservative, religious family because I knew I could never expect any sincere expression of support from them. I opted for voluntary estrangement. By the time I'd grown indifferent to their support, I resented any obligation to make a grand announcement. The chance of a casual, matter-of-fact correction in the context of a faulty assumption was improbable in the extreme, given the infrequency of our interaction. I hesitated to send Facebook friend requests to my family to obviate the need for an announcement because I didn't want to be governed by my righteous indignation or refusal accept the world as it is. A friend observed that the Facebook strategy would give my family the option to initiate discussion or persist in the polite fiction that has become the basis of our now tenuous relationship. I've been prepared for many years to be rejected unambiguously by my family, but I never prepared for the alternative. It never occurred to me how much work might be involved in repairing damaged ties, but it wouldn't be fair to sever them altogether without testing them first.