Hello everyone. Attention please. Important announcement: In honor of Sunday, Oct. 11, being the 27th annual National Coming Out Day, I’d like to inform you that I am — hold onto your hat — definitely a lesbian.
Yeah, yeah, big shock, right? I’ve been an out and proud dyke-about-town for decades, here and queer so long that people did get used to it, and don’t (big eye roll) really care anymore. What a privilege for those eye-rollers to not have to be aware of how dangerous coming out can be — despite the enormous progress we’ve made in public policy, general visibility and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook coming out and becoming the first out gay person in the Fortune 500.
When we observe National Coming Out Day by coming out — or coming out some more — we encourage folks who are still mustering the nerve. The more they witness us declare our unabashed queerness — and witness the sky not falling when we do — the safer they feel to come out.
Coming out as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer or questioning — or any other closeted gender or sexual identity that people hide out of fear — helps make sure that those around us know they know LGBTQ people. Research shows that to know us is to love us, or at least not take away our rights, and maybe stop kicking us out of our homes, families, jobs and faith communities. True, in Oregon it’s illegal for employers to fire us for our sexual orientation or gender identity, but they have their ways. Haters gonna hate.
Lots of LGBTQ people, mostly youngsters, but plenty of late-bloomers, too, live or work or worship in a precarious environment. I’m not just talking about Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the seven other countries where, under Sharia law, homosexuality is still punishable by death. In too many U.S. states and cities, the environment remains fiercely hostile to LGBTQ people. Sadly, even in some places here in Oregon.
As long as anyone is still teased, bullied, harassed or outcast for diverging from the norm, those of us in supportive circumstances have to continue coming out. We need to let people know who we are and declare our identities without shame or guilt or even a twinge of self-hatred, because too many are still suffering abuse.
We especially need our allies to come out. If you’re queer-friendly, be an ally. If you’re an ally, speak up. Get involved. Show your support. Make a habit of saying that you support full equality and respect for the queer people in your family/community/world. Challenge anti-queer and anti-trans ideas, policies and tweets. Let people know why you’re not amused by anti-gay jokes or making fun of Caitlyn Jenner. Telling or laughing at those jokes feeds the stigma that keeps kids terrorized in schools, and contemplating and — all too often —committing suicide. Let LGBTQ people, especially kids, know you’re a safe person to come out to. Be informed and active in creating safe space. Allies act.
Learn about the National Coming Out Project at wkly.ws/22x. More ideas about being a straight ally? See wkly.ws/22y.
To all my lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and questioning peeps — closeted or otherwise — and all our allies, this is a beautiful day to come out.