Ladies, gentleman, and those who have yet to make up their minds, I have something important to tell you. It may shock you, but?I?m gay.
What? Why are you laughing? What do you mean I?ve been flaunting it in your face for the past eight months?
All joking aside, this week marks something special in the LGBTQ community. Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day. While it isn?t a national holiday, it is a very sentimental day for lots of queer people. It?s a way of telling the world that you?re not ashamed of your identity and that queer people look and act just like you. National Coming Out Day, or NCOD, takes place every October 11. It takes place on that day to celebrate the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place on October 11, 1987.
The very first NCOD took place on the one-year anniversary of the march. The reasoning that they picked this day was to remind society about something positive in the queer community. If more people were aware of out and proud queer people living among them, then harmful stereotypes and laws affecting them would go away. A lot of bad stereotypes have gone away due to increased visibility of LGBTQ people in society. While LGBTQ people and issues are very much at the forefront of American culture today, days like this are still very important. Why would Diana Ross sing a whole song about it if it wasn?t important?
According to Human Rights Campaign, half of all Americans can identify someone who is close to them as gay or lesbian. Ten percent of Americans can identify someone who is transgender. Perhaps you?re reading this post, or have been reading my blog in the past because you?re one of those people who know someone in your life who identifies as LGBTQ. You?re trying your best to support them, and to learn more about them. Thanks for doing that!
However, you may be one of the people that doesn?t personally know someone who is LGBTQ. You?re on here to learn more about issues affecting these groups of people. If you are, I commend you on taking that step. The truth is though, you probably already know someone who is LGBTQ. They just haven?t told you yet. They haven?t come out.
For every person that is out and proud in their sexual orientation or gender identity, there are countless others who are afraid to share that information. They?re afraid to share it because of fear of losing their homes, their families, or their jobs. In fact, there were two cases involving three different plaintiffs heard before the Supreme Court on Tuesday that focused on workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. You can read about it here.
Another reason why people don?t come out is because they don?t feel like their faith and their sexuality can coexist. Most Christians, myself included, have grown up in a church where we told, at the worst, that gay people are evil and going to hell, and at best(or most hypocritical), were welcome in the church, but not in leadership. Why would any LGBTQ Christian come out in that environment? It?s best to suppress one of the two, and embrace the other.
However, there are brave persons in the church who have come out and been role models for queer people of faith. Pastors, theologians, and lay people are standing up and claiming both parts of their lives: queer and Christian. In a past life, I admired these people from afar, read their books in secret, and kept up with their lives and careers via social media. I longed to cross to the other side, where I could be out of the closet and show who I truly am. Coming out changes, and saves lives. It saved mine.
So I want to speak to three different groups of people today. First, I want to speak to the out and proud LGBTQ people that are reading this. Thank you for your courage. I know that your life post-coming out has not always been easy or safe. However, your life is a testament to the power of the human spirit, and the world is better because of your bravery and who you choose to be. Keep being you and keep being awesome.
Second, I want to speak to cisgender and heterosexual Christians. It might take you out of your comfort zone, or push your boundaries, but get to know a queer person. You may be that half of the population that doesn?t know someone close to you that identifies as gay or lesbian. Hold off on any judgments or prejudices that you may have about those people groups. They?re not going to try to convert you, or hit on you. We just want to be heard and respected. We want to be seen as equals, because we are and deserve to be treated as such.
Finally, I want to talk to the queer person that?s still in the closet. Hear me now: Come out when you?re ready. Yes, I believe life is better when you come out, but you first have to worry about your security and safety. If you?re living with family that will kick you out, or something worse, if you tell them you?re LGBTQ, then hold off on coming out. If think your employer would fire you if you came out (which, somehow, is still insanely legal), then be cautious. Only you know when it?s best to come out. I came out over a long, lengthy period of time, because that?s what I was most comfortable with. You have to first care for your overall health and safety. There?s always next year?s National Coming Out Day to celebrate.
National Coming Out Day is not a well-known holiday, but it?s a day that should be worthy of celebration. I hope you get the chance to learn more about it and celebrate it tomorrow!
If you?d like more information on National Coming Out Day, or any resources about Coming Out, click here to be directed to Human Rights Campaign?s site on NCOD.