Today is National Coming Out Day. I have mixed feelings about identifying one day to celebrate something that should be celebrated every day of the year. I do understand that in our mostly homophobic culture, we need to have a day that recognizes the struggle and encourages the courage needed to be “out” in our country. But I feel great sadness that the day hasn’t yet arrived when everyone – gay or straight – will be embraced for living their truth.
Further complicating matters is that “coming out” isn’t just one single event. Unless we’re talking about Elton John or Adam Lambert, most gay people don’t bust down the closet door with one swift kick, claim their gay birthright, and start living their alternative lifestyle openly and freely. For most gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals, coming out is a slow (sometimes painful) process that happens in stages. No matter how many people you come out to, there’s always an endless line of others waiting to hear, judge, and comment on your life. Add the uncertainty about people’s potential reactions to deeply ingrained feelings of shame and homophobia taught to all of us from an early age to the fear that being openly gay will define you completely and totally in others’ eyes, and you have a recipe for some challenging years.
So, yes, it’s hard to be gay and live your truth. It’s also hard to be straight and live your truth. Life is just hard. We all face great challenges to embrace our truths and share them with the world. I wonder why those shared struggles don’t bring us closer – why we continue to insist that we are separate from each other, especially when the rewards for coming together are so great and the consequences for not doing so are so profoundly awful. Why all the hate and fear when each of us is searching for the same things — acceptance, tolerance, and love? I guess that’s something for another post.
I will bring this post to a close by saying that today (and most days), I am out and proud. I love my life, and I feel grateful each day for all the love and support I have. Today, I recognize all those who don’t have that same love and support. I stand with you, whether you’re out on the front lines or hanging back in the shadows. I know that the world is changing and acceptance is coming. And I know that my courage and strength on this day, and every day, will help bring about that change even faster. I may not be marching on Washington or riding on a float at Pride, but I am living my truth one day at a time, so that all of us, one day, can be out and proud, too.