A friend of mine came out on Facebook today, and on his status there was a link to “Surprise So-and-So with a gift!”
I wondered where this button could have been six years (almost seven!) ago for me. Because, let’s be very serious, I could have used a $10 gift card to Starbucks when I came out.
Rarely do I have to out myself— I’m the fabulous gay man who doesn’t need a second thought. But in the few odd instances where a pronoun about an ex-boyfriend or mentioning an attractive man, there is a slight pause and an, “Oh, ok.” And the conversation moves forward.
October 11th was National Coming Out Day, a day to honor and remember the (second) National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights; 25 years ago, almost half a million queer people descended upon Washington D.C. in an effort to raise awareness of our demographic.
One common misconception about coming out is that it’s a one time declaration— but it’s not. We come out every day to new friends we meet, come out as something we previously hadn’t learned about ourselves, or come out as an entire people. And whether you’re flamingly obvious about for which team you play, or we couldn’t tell if you were on a softball team, it doesn’t matter.
Coming out is an excruciatingly personal event to be shared and celebrated. The first time you utter the words to a close friend, a family member, or even yourself is a huge step— regardless of their (or your) reaction. It means that you have the courage to stand up for yourself and say who you are among everyone else. It distinguishes you as a forthright and honest individual.
I can hear the ignorant straight person saying, “Well why do you have to have your own day to come out, and why is it such a big deal?” Please tell me the last time you had to identify yourself as a straight person— our society fosters a straight until proven otherwise formality. And I’m not going to waste my breath on contemplating if that is a good or a bad thing. It simply is the truth and a reality that LGBT persons face every day.
Who knows— maybe one day a Coming Out party will be just as commonplace as a birthday party. I can see the Subarus with NPR bumper stickers lining the streets to 12 year old Jimmy’s house, where his mom has baked a rainbow cake and invited the entire neighborhood to mark his newfound fabulosity. Until then, a day in October shall suffice.