Every year on October 11 we celebrate National Coming Out Day, but coming out of the closet is something LGBTQI people and their allies face in big and small ways every day of the year. It can be a real challenge to, as Harvey Milk exhorted us, “Burst down those closet doors once and for all, and stand up and start to fight.” Here are some thoughts on coming out by Owldolatrous Press contributors.
National Coming Out Day is October 11th, a powerful and empowering event. We need visibility, because visibility breeds awareness, and awareness is the crank that drives social change. But mostly we need people alive. We need people safe. Contributor Ryan Legg explains why sometimes the best choice is to stay closeted.
by Wayne Self
Captain Stephen Hill is the gay soldier deployed to Iraq who was booed on national TV at one of last year’s Republican Presidential Primary debates. The booing, and the disdain evident in the answers of Presidential candidates, struck a chord with many observers, since no contender for Commander-in-Chief on the stage that day stood in defense of a deployed American soldier.
But what many may not know about Hill is that his big TV moment was also the moment he came out of the closet. Steven shares his lessons learned on coming out in an interview with Wayne Self.
By the time Zach started coming out as transgender, he’d been out as queer for so long he’d forgotten how scary the process was. He found the stakes were even higher this time, as he came out again to family, friends, and co-workers, and to a whole new set of people he hadn’t had to come out to before. This time he wasn’t just asking the people closest to him to accept his sexuality; he was asking everyone in his life to change what they called him and how they interacted with him: to think of him in an entirely new way.
Coming out as a straight ally may be easier than coming out as a lesbian, gay, bi, trans*, or queer person, but it’s even more important. Author Kirstin Cronn-Mills tells it like it is:
“Those of us with privilege have the obligation to encourage and create equality and fairness for those who don’t have the rights we do. We’re the ones who can make and apply the pressure on governments, organizations, and individuals. We can make a difference, and we have a human obligation to do so. We need to be LOUD when we do it. And we need to drag along all the other straight people.”
Got questions about coming out? Check out the following resources.
- The Human Rights Campaign covers many different aspects of the coming out process and going forward.
- UC Berkeley’s Gender Equity Resource Center provides a specific list of “who, what, how, why” surrounding coming out.
- For youth looking for support and guidance on coming out, check out Live Out Loud’s coming out resource page.
- GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) offers a Guide for Youth and Their Allies.