Sometimes, it’s great to be “the in thing”. That beats “five minutes ago” or being “out of style”, “out of fashion”, or “out of touch”. Prince sings about a hottie that “walked in through the out door, out door” wearing a “Raspberry Beret”. All this talk in today’s blog has more to do with being “out”.
Tomorrow, October 11th, is “National Coming Out Day”.
The uninitiated may ask, “What is ‘National Coming Out Day'”? It’s an international observance in several countries around the world, including the United States, that raises awareness for people who publicly identify themselves as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) in their community.
As for me, I was never “in the closet”, so I never came out. I was me, for better or worse, and it was more of a “take it or leave it” situation if you wanted to be my friend.
Being gay was something that my mother always knew, but she never addressed it.
However, she did buy me the “Colour By Numbers” album by Culture Club when it came out in the fall of 1983, during my freshman year in college, so the writing was on the wall!
I remember being home from school that following summer and I went back to my college town (23 miles away) one Saturday night to spend the night with a “friend”. All she said about it was something to the effect of “you probably shouldn’t do that” and I likely just went inside and put on my headphones and listened to Culture Club or Duran Duran and daydreamed about Corey Hart!
In 1986, I was in my first relationship that lasted four years. My mother liked the person I was seeing, yet we never talked about “it”. I moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1990 and stayed there for four months. The relationship ran its course and I moved back to Kentucky three weeks before my mother died.
People deal with being LGBT and “coming out” in different ways. Prior to Facebook, telling someone I was gay was never the first thing I would offer about myself (and it still isn’t). It’s just a part of who I am.
However, in the past few years, I’ve become more of an outspoken advocate for gay rights, marriage equality rights, and AIDS education, so it’s something that you definitely know pretty early on with me if you’re a Facebook friend.
For some people, coming out is easy if you have a supportive family, friends, and co-workers. For others, it’s a difficult decision. This is something that teens face all the time. Some are afraid that their parents will kick them out of the house. That happens and that’s why there is fear involved in the process.
Meanwhile, others refrain about being open because they live in a small town and they fear that they would be ostracized or worse. And, others are scared that by coming out, it could cost them their job.
This is a problem created by society, politicians, and to a great extent, the message coming from some church leaders.
We’ve all heard of teenagers (and adults) that commit suicide because they fear they will be condemned in life for being who they are. That is why the “It Gets Better” video campaign was started two years ago. Here is the video I submitted on January 4, 2012.
If you’re struggling with coming out or if you know someone that is having problems with being LGBT, there are resources available. Three of the best to check out are “PFLAG” (Parents, Family, & Friends of Lesbian and Gays), The Trevor Project, and It Gets Better. Here are the links to the websites: http://www.pflag.org/ http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ and http://www.itgetsbetter.org/
“National Coming Out Day” was first held on October 11, 1988, on the one year anniversary of the “Second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights”, a political rally that brought an estimated 200,000 people to the nation’s capital.
In honor of the day, here’s Diana Ross’ #5 hit, “I’m Coming Out” that was released in 1980.