Grab a cocktail, this is a long one!
When I was growing up in a small city in Iowa, I knew I was different. It was indefinable, because no one ever said the word “Gay” or “Lesbian” and no one I knew was gay, or at least that’s what I thought then. I didn’t know what “it” was or what it meant. I struggled through my various phases of adolescence and experimentation and came out on the side of “normal;” a normal that was never really who I was. Things were different then—and even more different for the generations of Gays and Lesbians who had their own struggles before mine.
One day, I knew in my heart of hearts if I didn’t come out, I would surely explode into a million pieces. Every facet of my life was crumbling around me because of my own fears of being who I was. The process was painful. Painful for me and painful for some of the people in my life whose range of reactions was anything from: I was duplicitous and my entire life to that point had been some sort of fraud perpetrated on them - to offering sincere concern for my well-being and future happiness, not to mention the state of my soul and where it was most assuredly going to end up.
The day I came out to my mom I felt the closest to her I ever have. I told her in person, struggling with the words, terrified of rejection, and she came out on the other side of her upbringing and beliefs to wrap her arms around me and tell me that she loved me. I’m sure she had said those words before, and I’m sure she’d hugged me at some other point in my life, but this will always be the one I remember. That hurdle leapt, I came out to others in my life one step at a time. Though I hoped I would not lose people along the way, I did. But, I’d say that my experience was pretty easy as these experiences go—it’s not that way for everyone.
Things have changed. Recently, I was told by a teen in my life that I’d be surprised how many middle-schoolers already identify as bisexual or gay—apparently, they actually talk about it and use the words we didn’t even know existed when I was young. Hell, yes, I’m surprised, I’m surprised any of them have even honed down their emotions and those hormonal urges to anything specific other than having the urge to hump anything that moves and some things that might not move.
And, while queers and perceived queers continue to be the victims of homophobic attacks and torment, Gay-Straight Alliances are popping up in schools everywhere. Now, if we could just connect the good things that are happening in schools to help all of those gay teens who will kill themselves this year because they fear facing their parents or can no longer stand the bullying, before it happens, I’d be very happy.
When a large segment of our population votes for legislation that bars gays from marrying or votes to allow discrimination against gays, they are not rejecting “what I do,” they are rejecting me, as a person, and telling me I am not equal to them. They are rejecting me, a taxpayer who does not enjoy the same tax benefits or property succession rights, yet helps support the myriad of welfare programs that benefit those left in poverty because of heterosexual divorce and unchecked heterosexual breeding. They are rejecting me, the human being, by denying me the opportunity to create a legal and protected relationship with a lifemate of my choice. That pisses me off.
This is the bottom line: Being gay is not what I do; it’s who I am—to the core of my being. It’s not detachable nor is it disposable. You can’t legislate it away or banish it to Hell. Finding “the right man” won’t work, it’s been tried. It can’t be cured and no amount of prayer will change it. You can’t wash it down the drain and you sure as Hell can’t put it back in the closet!
Every person who walks out of that closet has family, friends, neighbors, teachers, employers, and colleagues who have the potential to change their mind on gay issues to one in our favor once they actually know/love/respect a gay person themselves. We fear what we do not understand. Put a face on their fear, so their fear no longer makes sense. Have your voice heard, help make us stronger—come out, come out, wherever you are!
HRC has a number of tips available on their website to guide those who do choose to take the day to come out.
And from Sinnerviewer, here's a great video and some National Coming Out Day resources. Enjoy!
For more info on National Coming Out Day, click HERE.
If you did or plan to come out to someone today, even if you are already openly gay, please leave comments and let us know about your experience.
Hahn at Home