National Coming Out Day 2007
October 11 is National Coming Out Day.
Despite all that good news, not everyone has the option of coming out —
* Without ENDA, LGBT citizens can be fired from a job where there are no local anti-discrimination protections.
* We most certainly see members of the community get the crap beaten out of them or worse in many parts of the country
* and it goes without saying if you have anti-gay parents and you're not yet 18 (or are dependent on them for support), coming out is probably a really bad idea unless you are prepared for the consequences of them taking the news badly.
That said, coming out is the most powerful thing one can do, but it cannot be done in isolation; straight allies have to be willing to publicly defend their gay friends and acquaintances.
* Support Equality organizations in your state, if it is at risk for an amendment challenge. Give your time and money, if you can spare. In North Carolina, the organization at the grassroots level is Equality NC.
* Get involved. It's easy to write a check or complain from the sidelines and the comfort of our keyboards about the effectiveness of those working locally and nationally on our behalf; it's another to come out, live out and work to make a difference — whether it's writing your representatives, grassroots activism, or making an effort to engage with your friends, neighbors and colleagues about equality issues.
* If you are straight and an ally, COME OUT. Support your gay friends and loved ones when you hear intolerant conversation, politely engage ignorance with information.
Here's a transcript excerpt and a short video I made for the occasion this year.
I came out in my late 20s. When I came out to my mother, it was fairly anticlimactic. She wasn't particularly angry but, of course, sad because of all of visions of what a daughter should be were sort of shattered. But I don't think she was entirely surprised, nor was my brother when I came out to him. He has always been supportive.
One thing I do regret is that my mom passed away before she could see me marry my wife, Kate, when we married in Vancouver. But all of my family has been extremely supportive. In fact, they probably knew, but it never was made explicit until I sent my announcement that we married to everyone via e-mail and in a card in the mail. So if people didn't know, that was one way to come out all at once.
The one thing everyone can do is come out if it is at all possible, if it is safe for you to do so. And that's a big caveat, but I think that for many people coming out is more of an internal process than it is the external process. Many people, once they do come out, find that most people either knew or thought that they were [gay] and had made peace with that. So I hope you take this time to think about whether it's time to kick open that closet door.
Each Coming Out Day I ask this Q of the Day:
Are you out to…
— your friends?
— your immediate family?
— your extended family?
— any/some/most of your colleagues at work?
— your boss?
— your doctors?
— your neighbors?
I'm happy to say that I can check off all of those today, but it took years of constantly coming out, choosing when “the right time” would be to come out to any of the above groups. It's a seemingly endless process, never easy, almost always awkward (since I'm an introvert to begin with). It's not like something that comes up in casual conversation, nor do you really want it to. But eventually kicking the door open beats life in the closet.
For my straight readers:
— are you “out” as an ally?
— are you able to talk about gay friends or relatives with others?
— are you comfortable shooting down homophobes when they spout off during a conversation?
*** More videos about the importance of coming out — and supporting those who are coming out, are after the jump.
Here's T.R. Knight for GLAAD on National Coming Out Day:
And for allies, GLAAD has a message from the stars of Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, and Brothers & Sisters:
And how about the “coming out” stories of four women survivors of marriages to closeted “ex-gay” men. Truth Wins Out‘s video shows the devastation caused by “ex-gays” who marry and have children in order to prove to themselves that they are straight, only to fall “off the wagon.” The women discuss the hard done by the ex-gay movement that hurt the innocent families that are “collateral damage.”
Read other coming out stories (and share your own) at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center web site.
* ALSO: Bloggernista is running a Coming Out in Color series of posts today.
* HRC Back Story: October 11 is National Coming Out Day