I’ve got mixed feelings about Coming Out Day. On the one hand, I understand it’s importance, the necessity for some to have this day. On the other, I almost feel like there’s a pressure to be out and proud or use the day as a springboard to come out if you’re not already.
What I don’t think a lot of people realize is that coming out, being out and staying out is a privilege. It’s brave, it’s costly but it’s a privilege. Being out is also dangerous for some of us. While it would be nice to come out of the closet, blowing the door off the hinges, having everything be awesome and nice… it’s often not the case.
Too many people, especially young people are told they are not worthy of human decency, love, affection because of their orientation. Too many are cast out from their homes, their lives torn apart for taking that step. For being true to themselves.
Too often our youth are driven to suicide, too often people don’t come out for fear of losing everything. Home, job, children, even their lives. It’s not easy to come out and have life just go on as it had been. Some people are forthright in their confusion, their disdain, anger, feelings of betrayal.
Others may slowly creep out of your life, unsure how to deal with you now that you’ve broken their nice little assumptions of you. Then there’s the hostility, the threats, the danger that the person you know isn’t who you thought they were. The way in which they avoid you, hurt you, make remarks that cut all the deeper because they know you have taken that leap to be open and honest with everyone in your life.
Coming out is a process that shifts with each time you do it. Each time you give that piece of yourself up to outer scrutiny. If you come out, it’ll be done many, many times for the rest of your life. There’s always new people, new situations, new reasons, ways to fling open that door again.
But there’s the flip side to all of this. For a lot of people, they just can’t come out. It will mean death, it will mean loss of all. There’s some people who don’t’ give a damn about being out. It’s their life, their business and no one needs to know.
I can respect that, and I can also respect those that have to come out. To be who you are in all ways to everyone around you. Neither way is wrong, or right or perfect, or deserving of ire.
Lastly, and this is something I want people to really remember. You don’t owe it to anyone to come out. You don’t owe the world, your family, your friends, anyone but you a reason to be out.
If you never tell a soul about your partner, never correct pronouns when someone asks about your husband or wife, it’s all good.
We all have the right to live our lives as we see fit. It’s not a competition, no one gets a fucking prize for being out nor do we get black marks for keeping our lives to ourselves.
So if you are using today to come out, I salute you. I am proud of you and I honor your bravery in doing so.
If you are pondering your orientation, thinking about today and using it as a way to come to terms with who you are, again…my hat’s off to you and I wish you well on your journey to wherever you land.
If today is a day that makes you cringe and hate the world and it’s ideas, I understand and hope it passes quickly and quietly for you.
If someone takes the risk to come out to you today, be a good friend. Don’t talk over them, just listen, don’t offer condolences, say it’s a phase, turn them away or tell them to get right with DEITY. It doesn’t work that way.
Don’t take someone’s act of bravery and turn into a moment to earn brownie points, or show just how tolerant you are.
Shut up, listen and when they are done talking? Give them a hug and thank them for taking that risk. Thank them for their bravery and their trust in you.
Lastly some resources for you:
National Coming Out Day – Wikipedia Article
National Coming Out Day Facebook Page
On Respecting the Boundaries of your Bisexual Friends (from my ‘grown up blog’)
Human Rights Campaign Straight Ally “Coming Out Day Guide”
HRC’s Coming Out Day resource page