Today is National Coming Out Day, the day in which closeted gay men and lesbians are urged to come out of the closet and announce to the world, “yes, I am gay.” The tradition is led by the Human Rights Campaign, which has designated this day to show others that there is a huge support mechanism for LGBT folks.
National Coming Out Day started in 1988, three years or so after I came out to myself and started peeking out around the closet doors. Who am I kidding. I had always known of my attraction to the same sex. It was late in 1985 that I actively began admitting it to myself. I’m not going to go into my whole coming out story this year. If you’re interested in the sordid details, feel free to read last year’s Coming Out Day entry.
I just know that someone, somewhere is doing a Google search on being gay today. Perhaps he lives in a country where he could be shot for his homosexuality. Perhaps she is being forced to marry a man because that’s how she was brought up, when she’d reallly like to marry her female teacher or pal from high school. You’re afraid. You’re afraid that you’ll be shunned by your friends, disowned by your family and burned at the stake at the next neighborhood barbecue. And I’m sorry you feel that way. The world is a scary place and there’s a lot of ignorance in the world. But know that you’re not alone. Know that while there is a lot of hate and negativity out there, also know that there is even more positive energy, love and acceptance, often in places that you wouldn’t expect to find it. We know that you didn’t *choose* to be gay, regardless of what others may say about that fact, and we know that you don’t have to live a certain lifestyle simply because you’re attracted to the same sex. Do what your heart tells you to do. Do what feels right to you. If you’re not ready to live your life “out loud” and admit to everyone and anyone that you are gay (I can just picture Billy Bob stopping Thelma the hairdresser on some rural street and saying “I like those queer boys!”) then just do one thing today, actually go ahead and do two things. Look at yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Look at yourself long and hard, reach for your true inner feelings, without any masks, without any fear, without any worries of reprisal. Then say it out loud. “Yes, I am gay.” Then follow it up with “And that’s o.k.”. It’s a baby step. But you’ll feel better for being honest with yourself. Allow yourself that dignity today.