For those of you who don’t know October 11th is National Coming Out Day. This is a day dedicated to saluting and championing those who have showed the courage to come out of the closet and live their lives in the bright light of truth and honesty. Make no mistake about it peeps: The closet only offers the darkness of secrecy and fear. Pioneer political leader Harvey Milk used to say, “The number one enemy of gay people everywhere is invisibility.” Harvey believed that by hiding in the closet made it easier for darker forces to lie about us and spread their misinformation, lies, and myths about what it means to be homosexual.
I attended a conference when I was in grad school that was themed “communication and hate” in Long Beach, California. The guest speaker that year was Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, who was assaulted and left for dead tied to a fence post and left overnight in the snow. She said in her keynote address, “If every single gay person everywhere in this country all came out tomorrow we would end homophobia in one day.” She went on to explain that it’s easier for people to hate that which they don’t think they know or see. It was her conviction that when people see we are bankers, politicians, grocery clerks, landscapers, blue collar workers, business professionals, brothers, sisters, moms and dads it makes it harder (if not impossible) to hate us.
Personally, I believe that there is no greater form of gay activism than coming out and living your life openly, honestly, and truthfully to our family, friends, and our coworkers and colleagues. I know it’s not easy and I wish I could say that everyone in your life is going to be welcoming and accepting but that is not the important issue here. We can do more to advance the great cause of equality by coming out and being open and honest about who we are and who we love than almost anything else. As you go about living your life this weekend take the time to ponder just how suffocating and counterproductive the closet can be. Let’s honor and salute those who have gone before us to make our lives easier and more fulfilling. Let’s ponder what we can do, today, this weekend, this year even to help make the journey easier for someone tomorrow.
Amen and so say we all. 🙂