Obviously I would lke to start this post with a hearty Happy Coming Out Day. Today is so important to the LGBT community. It is a day encourage all those who have yet to come out. It is a day we honor those who came out during those cold, dark years when it was almost guaranteed to make your life more difficult. It is a day we hope for the time when coming out will be superfluous. We are not there yet. Too many hetero sexists and cis sexists would prefer we stay in the closet. We cannot allow them to control the dialogue though, and coming out and showing that we are not ashamed or afraid of who and what we are is important. That said, there are a few caveats I would like to share.
First: be safe. If you think coming out will put you in real physical danger you may want to hold off. Maybe you think your parents will leave you out in the street. Maybe you have to worry about being beaten viciously by peers in school. Maybe you are worried about the level of homophobia displayed by the police force in your home town. If you are honestly afraid for your health and safety no decent person can judge you for not coming out. By all means, if you still worry about these things but want to come out to make a statement for yourself and for the rest of us do so, and thank you for your courage, but don’t think for a moment anyone expects that of you. At least, no one that is not a schmuck.
Second: this is your life. If you do feel safe about it, celebrate your coming out however you want. Throw a party. Sit down with your mom and dad and quietly tell them. Take out an ad. Whatever you do it is your identity we are talking about. Does this new information affect others in your life? Sure, but it is YOUR life and an important aspect of it. You have already been forced to keep yourself a secret. Others have been dictating you to you for a long time and you deserve to take that back if only for one day.
Third: allies, this is not about you. Be there, and know that we are grateful for you, but this is about us. If we want advice, we will ask for it. Maybe we are only ready to come out to a few people. Maybe we want to tell everyone. Maybe we want to talk about all our years in the closet. Maybe we do not. Whatever the case the best thing you can do is let this important moment be ours. We are glad you want to be a part of it, and by all means, if you have some ideas for celebrating it, share them, with us. Let us, however, ultimately decide on what today means for us.
I think that about covers it. A few simple rules for a magnificent day. Some day this holiday will simply be one of remembrance. We will look back on the dark days of bigotry and be happy for a world in which “coming out” is not so much a thing as a simple shrug of the shoulder and quiet acknowledgment of “huh, I guess I’m into (boys/girls/everyone)” or “I guess I’m a (boy/girl/other.)” Wouldn’t that be beautiful?
- On National Coming Out Day, Don’t Disparage the Closet (theatlantic.com)
- Memoirs Of A “Queer” Journalist (awkwardagent.wordpress.com)
- “Coming Out” is no Monologue (shadiajmansour.wordpress.com)
- It Gets Better, Unless You’re Fat (buzzfeed.com)