Happy National Coming Out Day

Just pause for a second so that we can consider what it means to “come out”, okay?  Think about this for a second.  In American culture, “coming out” can be an incredibly difficult process.  And yet it is somehow incumbent upon the LGBTQ community to “come out”, because it is for some reason incumbent upon a minority to identify as a minority because otherwise how would the majority know?  And in this moment of informing the majority, one takes upon oneself an incredible risk, and society, rather than make it any easier to undertake this, allows for the continued otherization of those who are “out.”

Let’s take it out of the sociological realm and put it in the personal for a second.  Imagine that you have to tell your parents that you are not who they think you are.  They think this because society has told them that they should expect a particular thing of you, and even though what you are is completely normal, they still expect something else.  And you’re afraid because they might be disappointed, they might not understand.  If you come out publicly, you might get teased, or bullied, or beaten.

And if you don’t tell anyone, then you have to live a lie.  You have to sneak around to be with the ones you love, or you have to be with people you don’t love.  You can never truly be you.

That’s the situation that America puts the LBGTQ community in when our society demands that they “come out”.

On National Coming Out Day, we try to highlight how normal it is to be gay.  How okay it is to be out.  To provide an opening for what can be a really difficult conversation.

But let me ask you something, straight readers of mine: how many of you have ever come out as straight?

Last year, on National Coming Out Day, my best friend and I “came out” as straight.  Because we shouldn’t be presuming heteronomativity.  It just otherizes the LGBTQ community.  I chose to be part of that project, and I choose to talk about it now, because society, and the individuals within it, should not assume that I or anyone else is straight.  I may choose to identify as heterosexual, but no one has a right to simply presume this about me.  If my friends have had to come out as gay, I should have had to have come out as straight.

I may never understand the difficulty of coming out if you’re LBGTQ, but I do understand how incredibly unfair it is that we live in a society that doesn’t accept you the way it accepts me because you love people of your same gender and I love someone of the opposite gender.  It’s just gender.  It shouldn’t have to define EVERYTHING.

To my friends who are out, remember that I love you.  And to anyone out there reading this who is struggling with telling someone who they are or how they feel, you are not alone.  You have allies, and you have people who will be there when you are ready.

For tips on what to do to support someone coming out, please check out last year’s post.

 

So toda

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~ by Randi Saunders on October 11, 2012.

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