Coming Out

For any of you not aware, Tuesday was National Coming Out Day, “an internationally observed civil awareness day celebrating individuals who publicly identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender—coming out regarding one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity being akin to a cultural rite of passage for LGBT people. The holiday is observed annually by members of the gay community on October 11.”

I think it’s important to be who you are are, authentically and openly, as much as is possible. There are all kind of closets people learn to hide in, aren’t there? In the case of the LGBTQ community it’s a closet that has provided a level of safety from violence and ostracism, but coming out creates a strength and safety beyond imagination.

There is no reason on this great earth why someone should have to stay in a closet because of who they love, because of how they love. Kids growing up should feel safe and supported, not shamed as they discover their sexual orientation and gender representation.

There are other closets though, some big and some small, but all limiting-the kid who wants to be loud but whose parents demand silence; the artist whose family insists they become a doctor, the straight ally who is afraid of what people will think if they stand up for LGBT rights, the couple in an open relationship who are afraid of the scorn of their friends or workplace. The comedian who hides their sensitivity in jokes rather than vulnerability.

Humans fear rejection. We are so good at it, rejecting. But I think we are also so much better at accepting. We learn whether to be an accept-or or a reject-or in childhood. Could we all learn to embrace difference, vulnerability, openness? Can we learn to Yes And our lives (and other’s lives) instead of No, Butting them to death?

I think being in any closet for long is toxic. It limits your potential and it limits the potential of the folks OUTSIDE the closet who don’t know you are in it. How else are people to grow if they aren’t trusted with the challenge to grow? Real communication, connection and yes, conflict is essential for those in a closet or outside of it unaware of the burdens the closet places on both.

I’ve done a fair bit of coming out of my own in recent weeks and I want to celebrate all of us taking steps out of the closet, whether those steps are baby or giant.

Take a risk during this week of Coming Out. Show yourself, who you really are, to people you don’t know, people you do know. Support your LGBTQ friends and family who are in the process of coming out. Give money to organizations like Equality Texas and OutYouth, that support the creation of safe spaces, equity and respect.

And enjoy some Diana Ross. Cause she’s got it right on.

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