Tag Archive | national coming out day

Join us in the light! #NationalComingOutDay

Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twenty-sixth anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did). My (very-much alive) husband Michael and I don’t have any anniversaries that are close to this date, but this is the twentieth National Coming Out Day we’ve lived together.

I’ve written about why I think it is important that every queer person (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, nonbinary, genderfluid, asexual, aromantic, two-spirit, questioning, et cetera) who can safely be out of the closet to do so. Study after study has shown that the more queer friends and acquaintances a straight person has, the more likely they are to support equality for LGBT people. Studies also show that queer and questioning teens and children who have positive queer role models in their community are significantly less likely to attempt suicide than those who don’t.

But it is also important for your own mental and physical health. Being in the closet means living in a constant state of fear. You second guess everything. You’re constantly worried about being rejected by friends or family members if they find out. All that anxiety and stress takes a toll on your mental and physical well-being.

Make no mistake: the fear is real. About 40% of the homeless teens are in that situation because they were kicked out of their homes by their parents when the parents found out they were gay or trans (which is why I advise young people to be very careful about coming out while still financial dependent on their parents). Even if you wait until you are a self-supporting adult (I was 31 years old when I came out), you may still face rejection from people you have loved and counted on your whole life. One of my grandmothers forbade any other family member of mentioning me in her presence. A friend I had thought of as closer than a brother since we were teen-agers was quite angry when I came out and to this day (he happens to be married to a distance relative of mine, so I still hear about him from time to time) insists that I’m going to burn in hell because I’m gay.

But, not everyone reacts that way. And some people will surprise you. One of my aunts who is otherwise quite politically conservative declared that anyone who had a problem with me being gay would have a bigger problem with her. Some people who had been acquaintances that I thought would just shrug and move on became genuinely close friends because coming out to them is an act of making yourself vulnerable—and when they react to that vulnerability with acceptance, that changes the way you perceive each other.

Once I was no longer spending all of that time and energy trying to hide part of myself from anyone, I found that I had more energy and enthusiasm to do the things I love. And when you’re doing that, you meet other people who love some of the things you do. Coming out meant losing (and in some cases evicting) more than a few people from my life. It wasn’t a loss, though, because those people had never loved me for who I was—they liked the mask that I wore when I was closeted. And that’s true even of the relatives who had suspected I was gay for decades and had spent many years praying that god would change me. Those were people who were not adding to my life—their love was conditional, and one of the conditions was that I live a life of fear and without love and intimacy. Separating myself from those people, made room for a much more wonderful and supportive found family.

I was lucky enough to fall in love with a sweet man who loved me back. And after he died, I was lucky again to meet and fall in love with another (though very different) man who loved me back. Being able to love and be loved and not keep that love a secret is something that straight people take for granted that many literally can’t comprehend why being out matters. Once you experienced it, you’ll be amazed at how long you put up with concealing your real self.

So, if it is safe for you to come out, you should. You’ll find that standing out in the light, being true to yourself, is so much better than hiding in the dark!

Oh, and some of you may find this article useful: Trevor Project Releases Coming-Out Handbook for LGBTQ Youth.

Friday Five (coming out day edition)

And now it is the second Friday in October.

Today is National Coming Out Day! I’ll have some more to say about that later today. You’ll find a few of this weeks stories and videos are related to that topic.

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five stories of the week, five stories about being queer and being out, five stores about science and science fiction-y things, five stories about deplorable people, five stories about the Impeachable One and related deplorables, and five videos (plus things I wrote and notable obituaries).

Stories of the Week:

Ancient Greek Scroll’s Hidden Contents Revealed Through Infrared Imaging.

City Thinks Cops Can Legally Murder Undocumented Immigrants.

Male cat needs glucose drip after mating with five females in one night in pet hotel.

The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You.

For the first time in my life, I don’t give a shit what the science says.

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Saying ‘I am gay’ in mirror led track athlete on path to acceptance .

Navajo Nation’s LGBTQ Pride Event Celebrates A Return To The Culture’s History.

Once in closet, gay hockey player voted high school homecoming king .

Family and Friends Are Seeking Justice for Channing Smith, Outed Teen Who Was Bullied into Suicide .

The Supreme Court showed its liberal/conservative split in LGBTQ cases. Here’s how it went.

This Week in Science, Science Fiction, Tech and Related:

Saturn overtakes Jupiter as planet with most moons.

Why This Fanfiction Site’s Prestigious Literary Honor Is a Win for LGBTQ Representation – Archive of Our Own, a volunteer-run, queer-inclusive fanfiction repository, scored a Hugo Award earlier this year.

A Gothic Education, or: How I Learned to Love the Dark.

Monarch butterflies swarm Colorado park Video .

Computer historians crack passwords of Unix’s early pioneers.

This Week in Deplorable People:

Florida’s DeSantis returns donation linked to Guiliani’s Ukrainian Crooks.

San Diego Man Charged With Hate Crime After Beating Three Muslim Women Wearing Hijabs.

Tulsi Gabbard threatens to boycott upcoming debate claiming DNC and corporate media trying to rig 2020 primary. Let’s re=write that headline: “Rep Gabbard, poorly disguised Republican mole and friend of dictators, whines about the fact that most democractic voters aren’t falling for her scam.”

Jerry Falwell Jr. settles Miami court case over South Beach ‘pool boy’ venture.

The Humiliation of Lindsey Graham. Too bad he has no shame…

This Week in Impeach the Mo-Fo Already:

Two men connected to Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts charged with funneling foreign money into US election.

Trump Targets The Poor To Balance His Bloated Billionaires Budget.

H.R. McMaster: Seeking foreign assistance for a U.S. election never appropriate.

What The Parnas-Fruman Indictment Reveals About The Trump-Ukraine Pressure Scheme.

‘Donald Trump Is Not Well and You Know It!’: Morning Joe Scorches GOP for Standing by as President Falls Apart.

In Memoriam:

Diahann Carroll, first black woman to star in nonservant role in TV series, dies at 84 – Carroll was the star of “Julia,” which ran for 86 episodes on NBC from 1968 to 1971.

Oprah, Ava DuVernay, Lee Daniels, Debbie Allen Remember “Icon” Diahann Carroll: “We Will Forever Sing Your Praises”.

Rip Taylor, Flamboyant Comic and Host of ‘The $1.98 Beauty Show,’ Dies at 84 – Known as the “King of Confetti” and “The Crying Comedian,” he made thousands of outlandish appearances on television and in nightclubs.

Things I wrote:

How we react to the world is both human and political, but I repeat myself.

A conspiracy of muses, or, the myth of writer’s block.

Videos!

MTV Documentary Films: Gay Chorus Deep South Trailer:

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These emotional coming out videos will restore your faith in humanity:

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Old Gays Share Their Coming Out Stories:

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Stephen Colbert Points Out That Trump’s Achilles Heel Is… His Mouth:

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MIKA – Tomorrow:

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No one deserves the closet — #NationalComingOutDay

“If Harry Potter taught us anything... it’s that no one deserves to live in the closet.”

“If Harry Potter taught us anything… it’s that no one deserves to live in the closet.”

It’s National Coming Out Day! And just for the record, in case it isn’t clear: I’m queer! Specifically I am a gay man married to a bisexual man. For many years I lived in the closet, and am almost indescribably happy that those days are over. So, if you’re a person living in the closet, I urge you to consider coming out. Coming out is scary. And I know that not everyone is safe to come out—a frightening number of parents throw their children out if they even suspect they are gay (not to mention the cases where parents have murdered their kids they thought were gay). 40% of homeless teen-agers are living on the streets because their parents either kicked them out because the teens were gay (or suspected of being gay), or drove them away through the constant abuse intended to beat the gay out of their kids. This statistic is the main reason I advise kids not to come out until they are no longer financially dependent on their parents. Yeah, there are many stories of kids who came out to their parents and those parents became supportive allies. But not all, by any means.

There are less extreme reasons why it isn’t safe for everyone to come out, I get that. So not everyone is ready. But…

Being in the closet isn’t just an inconvenience. Studies show that being closeted adversely affects your physical health. You live in a constant state of high anxiety about people finding out and what they might do when it happens. This affects us the same as extended trauma, inducing the same sorts of stress changes to the central nervous system as PTSD.

“My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short.” —Armistead Maupin

“My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don’t make that mistake yourself. Life’s too damn short.” —Armistead Maupin

Coming out is scary. Some of your family and friends will react badly. There may be drama. You may have the unpleasant surprise to find that some of the people you were sure would be fine with it are not at all. On the other hand (and I speak from personal experience), you may be pleasantly surprised at some of the people who support you—one of my aunts that I was certain wouldn’t react well was the first person to say to a bunch of my relatives, “If you have a problem with Gene being gay, then you’re going to have a much bigger problem with me!”

And coming out isn’t a one and done thing. People will continue to assume you’re straight. You’ll find yourself coming out again and again. But the thing is, being out is so much better than being in that closet. You will be amazed, as you process the aftermath, at how much energy you were expending worrying about people finding out. You will be surprised at the sheer weight of the stress you were dealing with being closeted. Like me, you may discover that a lot of health issues were fueled by that stress, and they get a lot better once you’re no longer hiding, deflecting, thinking of plausible lies, and constantly dreading someone finding out.

I wish we lived in a world where fear of being who we are wasn’t so real.

But one of the small ways we can make the world a little less scary for queer people is to come out. As a teenager, the one time I saw a gay couple on a news program being interviewed about the gay rights struggle probably saved my life. There were two men admitting they were gay—two men who had been in a committed relationship for years and seemed happy. It was a ray of hope I desperately needed.

And that’s one of the reasons I am out. It’s why I mention my queerness as often as I do. So that some frightened queer kid might see that, look, there’s a gay man who is happy, has a good life, has people who love him, has friends—gay, straight and otherwise—who have his back. So, maybe, we can be a glimmer of hope for them.

No one deserves the closet. No one deserves that fear and self-loathing. When you’re ready, come out. It really is a wonderful world outside of that closet.

No one deserves to live in a closet

“If Harry Potter taught us anything, it's that no one deserved to live in a closet.”

“If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one deserved to live in a closet.”

It’s National Coming Out Day! And just for the record, in case it isn’t clear: I’m queer! Specifically I am a gay man married to a bisexual man. For many years I lived in the closet, and am ever so happy that those days are far, far behind me. So, if you’re a person living in the closet, I urge you to consider coming out. Being in the closet is scary—you live in a constant state of high anxiety about people finding out and what they might do when it happens. Studies show that this affects us the same as extended trauma, inducing the same sorts of stress changes to the central nervous system as PTSD.

The problem is that coming out is also scary. 40% of homeless teen-agers are living on the streets because their parents either kicked them out because the teens were gay (or suspected of being gay), or drove them away through the constant abuse intended to beat the gay out of their kids. This statistic is the main reason I advise kids not to come out until they are no longer financially dependent on their parents. Yeah, there are many stories of kids who came out to their parents and those parents became supportive allies. But not all, by any means.

“My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don't make that mistake yourself. Life's too damn short.” —Armistead Maupin

“My only regret about being gay is that I repressed it for so long. I surrendered my youth to the people I feared when I could have been out there loving someone. Don’t make that mistake yourself. Life’s too damn short.” —Armistead Maupin

Even if you are a self-supporting adult, coming out is often accompanied by drama. Some of your family and friends will not take it well. You will be surprised at some of the ones who you thought would be okay with it being exactly the opposite. On the other hand, some people will surprise you with how fiercely supportive they become.

In the long run, being out is better than living in the closet. You will finally know who loves you for who you are, rather than those who love the idea of who they think you ought to be. You will also find out that you were expending far more energy than you realized constantly being on the look out for signs your secret is discovered. There will be a moment when you feel the burden lifted. But you will also discover the coming out isn’t a one-and-done deal.

But the freedom of no longer living a lie is incredible. So when you’re ready, come out, come out, where ever you are!

Don’t just take my word for it:

Come Out and Celebrate!

“Keep Calm and Be Proud of Who You Are.”

“Keep Calm and Be Proud of Who You Are.”

Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twenty-third anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did).

I’ve written more than once about why I think it is important for all Queer people (by which I mean people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Genderqueer, Nonbinary, Pansexual, Genderfluid, Questioning, Polyamorous and their Allies) to be out about who they are. Because it can be dangerous to come out (kill the gays laws exist in many parts of the world, while here in the U.S. about 40% of homeless teens are children who were kicked out of their house by their parents for being queer or being suspected of being queer), there are some people who probably shouldn’t be out until their situation changes. But being in the closet is harmful in many ways. Studies and history has shown that the fastest way to get other people (and society at large) to accept and support queers is when queer people come out.

The more straight people who actually know queer people, the more minds are opened.

So, in case somehow it isn’t clear: I’m queer. Specifically, I’m a gay man married to a bisexual man.

Being in the closet takes an incredible emotional toll which affects your physical health as well. When you’re in the closet, you’re living in constant fear of rejection. Particularly if, like me, you grew up in a fundamentalist religious family and community. The fear of losing people you love—people who you have depended on—can be debilitating. The constant anxiety of what people’s reactions will be corrodes your soul.

The thing is, staying in the closet is no guarantee against that rejection. Someday someone is going to figure it out, not at a time when you’ve picked and prepared yourself.

Coming out was hard, and there was drama (oh, was there drama). I put up with all the wailing and the angry letters (28-page handwritten letter from one aunt outlining all of the words and topics I would not be allowed to bring up around her, explaining several times that if I brought my partner to visit we would not even be allowed to call each other honey, et cetera). But while many reacted badly to begin with, it wasn’t everyone. Another one of my aunts was the first to call to tell me she loved and supported me. She made it clear to folks on her side of the family that if they had a problem with me being gay, they would have a bigger problem with her.

If and when there is drama about your coming out, you have to treat said drama as your parents (or whoever) throwing a tantrum. They are trying to force you to pretend to be someone you aren’t for their convenience. And just as when a child throws a tantrum, you can’t reward that bad behavior. Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist and gay activist, puts it this way: the only leverage adult queer people have over parents and other family members is our presence in their lives. We shouldn’t fear losing them, they should fear losing us.

It took a few years for some of my family members to come around. I remain grateful that my mom and one set of grandparents did so before my first partner, Ray, died. He had only a short period of time of feeling welcomed into the family. Now, years later, my husband Michael isn’t just welcomed, I’m pretty sure some of them like him more than they do me. And I can hardly blame them!

A few of my relatives never became accepting before they died, and it was their loss.

There will be some surprises. Some people who you were certain before you came out would never accept you will become your biggest defenders. Some people who you thought might understand will disown you and go to their grave without reaching out. You will definitely learn which people really love you, and which only love the idea of who they think you ought to be.

The thing is, being loved for who you are, instead of the illusionary non-queer person you pretended to be, is wonderful. The sooner you are able to find those people the better. And remember the wisdom of Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

And being out doesn’t just free you. Being out frees others.

HRC Celebrates National Coming Out Day 2016:

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What We Lose When We Don’t Teach LGBTQ History In Schools.

Come out, darlings, the world is fine!

keep-calm-and-come-out-21Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twenty-second anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did).

Since I am still occasionally surprised to learn that someone I know or work with hasn’t figured out that I’m gay: my husband (Michael) and I are both men, and we’re very much in love with each other and happy together.

My husband and I.

My husband and I.

But while I’m (re-)stating what I think ought to be obvious, I would like to announce that I am a card-carrying liberal gay man who thinks:

Read More…

Out! Out! Come out now!

National-Coming-Out-Day-300x300Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twenty-first anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did).

Since I am still occasionally surprised to learn that someone I know or work with hasn’t figured out that I’m gay: my husband (Michael) and I are both men, and we’re very much in love with each other and happy together.

My husband and I.

My husband and I.

But while I’m (re-)stating what I think ought to be obvious, I would like to announce that I am a card-carrying liberal gay man who thinks:

Read More…

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Image of Glinda the Good from the Wizard of Oz.

Glinda says, “Come out, come out, where ever you are!”

Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twentieth anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did).

Since I am still occasionally surprised to learn that someone I know or work with hasn’t figured out that I’m gay: my husband (Michael) and I are both men, and we’re very much in love with each other and happy together.

Picture taken by Chelsea Kellogg, reporter for the Stranger.

Michael and I.

But while I’m (re-)stating what I think ought to be obvious, I would like to announce that I am a card-carrying liberal gay man who thinks:

Read More…

“Family”

I didn’t talk much about why coming out is important yesterday in my National Coming Out Day post. The reasons I would usually give—about living life honestly, about the benefits of not living in fear, and so on—get dismissed by some people, who think that such honesty is somehow “shoving things in their face.”

The best answer is one I got from a news blog’s comment section four years ago. When Proposition 8 passed in California, revoking the right of marriage equality that had already been exercised by a few thousand people, protest marches were organized around the country, and a person identifying herself as Tina posted the following:

If you want to know why I am marching it is because I remember being six years old and having to sit in a hospital waiting room with my parents and my Uncle RJ while his partner of 19 years (a man I knew as Uncle Ron who taught me how to braid my hair and wear pinks and reds because they highlighted my coloring) died alone in a hospital room that only “family” was allowed into… Then, as a child, I couldn’t understand why we weren’t allowed to say goodbye to him… Now, as an adult, I still don’t get it. People are people and frankly I figure we could all use a little more love and equality in the world.

These sorts of things still happen—partners who have taken care of each other, loved each other, pledged themselves to each other, get locked out of hospital rooms, are denied access to accident reports, are barred from funerals (often by family members of the deceased who had disowned the deceased years before over the “lifestyle choice”).

As testimony given in the New York state legislature last year demonstrated, these sorts of things even happen in places where the law recognizes “domestic partners.”

Me telling you I love Michael isn’t revealing anything more about our private activities than any person’s mention of their spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Strangers mention spouses in causal conversation all the time, and no one is harmed in any way.

But there is real harm that comes from the ostracism and hiding.

Come out, come out, where ever you are

Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the nineteenth anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did).

Since I am still regularly surprised to learn that someone I’ve known for a while hasn’t ever figured out I’m gay: my husband and I are both men, and we’re very much in love with each other and happy together.

But while I’m (re-)stating what I think ought to be obvious, I would like to announce that I am a card-carrying liberal gay man who thinks:

  • that gun control means hitting what you aim at but people who irresponsibly allow guns to fall into kids’ hands resulting in death or injury should face severe legal consequences;
  • that the death penalty has a place in a well-run justice system but so does jury nullification;
  • that a flag-burning amendment is as un-American as anything could possibly be, but people who fly a flag should learn the flag code and stop leaving their flags out at night and in the rain;
  • that war and violence are terrible things we should always work hard to avoid, but the people who risk their lives in service to their communities and nation deserve our respect and gratitude;
  • that the right to assemble and petition our government absolutely allows people to march, protest, chant, and otherwise demonstrate in public places, but if you’re not willing to pay the price of possibly being arrested for blocking your fellow citizens from going about their business, you deserve a slap up-side-the-head;
  • that people have the right to control their own bodies, but refusing to get your children vaccinated demonstrates a criminal level of ignorance, is the equivalent of child abuse, and puts neighbors, friends, and strangers at risk for preventable and sometimes fatal diseases;
  • that no one who is not going into a battle zone needs a Hummer, but people who blindly protest nuclear power plants can’t do basic math about energy needs and energy sources;
  • that proportional representation would greatly improve our country, but so would at least one of the major parties actually moving left-of-center;
  • that the right to believe as you wish includes the right not to believe at all, but rabid atheists are no less annoying than the other kinds of fundamentalists;
  • that being polite costs nothing while reaping great rewards, but no one should have to put up with disrespectful behavior;
  • that there isn’t enough science education in our schools, but there isn’t enough art, music, or history either;
  • and that you get out of life what you put into it, but you also get a lot of both the good and the bad through no fault or merit of your own.
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