I’m hetero, but I have friends, family members and coworkers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and The Girl was an active member of her high school’s SAGA club. I don’t think having a personal tie to the community matters. Love is love.
Today is National Coming Out Day. Most of you probably know what it is and why it’s important, but just in case you don’t:
Wikipedia defines it as an annual LGBT awareness day to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Will Kohler’s post on Back2Sonewall tells us that “it was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, an openly-gay political leader from Los Angeles and then head of the national Gay Rights Advocates. October 11th was chosen because it was the anniversary of the 1987 national march on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.”
So that’s the “what”, now for the “why”:
National Today continues by saying that “Eichberg, who would later die in 1995 of complications from AIDS, said that the strongest tool in the human rights movement was to illustrate that most people already know and respect someone in the LGBTQ+ community. “
Harvey Milk agreed, stating that coming out was the most radical and powerful action members of the LGBTQ community could take.
Wendy Ho says it is “based on the idea that the personal is political, that the most basic form of activism can be coming out to friends, family and coworkers, and living openly.” She continues by saying that “The core idea is that homophobia thrives in silence and people are less likely to maintain homophobic belief when they discover that a loved one is LGBTQ+.”
Although gay rights have come a long way since Matthew Wayne Shepard was beaten, tortured and left to die in 1998, we still have a long way to go.
Just this February former Miami Hurricanes running back T.J. Callan shared his story of being driven from the University of Miami football team due to homophobic taunts and anti-gay attitudes among the coaching staff. Throughout his time with the team, he didn’t hear a single positive message about gay people from anybody, including teammates who have gay family members.
Although things have (seemingly) improved since Brandon Teena’s rape and murder (I still can’t bring myself to watch Boys Don’t Cry), the number of transgender people murdered in 2020 surpassed the total for 2019 in just seven months. Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears was stabbed to death while attending a vigil for murder victim Tyrell Penney. Let me say it again for the people in the back: Aja was murdered while attending a vigil for a murder victim.
Unlike Harvey Milk, I don’t think everyone needs to come out of the closet, and I definitely condemn “outing” by members of the press/gay rights activists. Coming out is a personal decision and should not be forced on anyone.
Even in these so called “enlightened times” coming out of the closet can be incredibly difficult. According to a 2018 review study LGBT teenagers are three times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers. Individuals can face backlash from their friends/coworkers/church group, and are at increased risk for bullying as well as both physical and sexual dating violence. On top of everything else, 40% of homeless youth are LGBT teens who have been kicked out of the house or have left home due to negative relationships with family.
Look, I understand that some religions consider homosexuality a sin. What I DON’T understand is why one sin would be considered “worse” than another. Those religious leaders who condemn homosexuality are often guilty of adultery (lust), pride and greed (mansions, private jets and six figure salaries). What is it they say about pointing fingers?But if Danny Cortez (a Southern Baptist pastor who describes himself as “everything that a conservative Christian is”) can change his mind, then anything is possible.
“Coming out” is scary for everyone involved – not just the individual who is choosing to share their truth, but for those they choose to tell. It is our job, as friends and family members, coworkers and neighbors, to be brave enough to support those who are coming out of the dark and into the light. This 2016 ScaryMommy post is addressed to parents, but I think we could all benefit from the first tip:
- Don’t freak out.
P.S. I shared this the other day, but I think it bears repeating – LOVE HAS NO LABELS (and yes, I’m shouting from the rooftops. Or my desk. Whatever.)