Yesterday, October 11, was “National Coming Out Day.” As I understand it, the date was selected to recognize the second “March on Washington” (for LGBT rights) which was held on October 11, 1987. I didn’t attend. Back then, I was deeply in the closet.
However, I did attend the third “March on Washington” (for LGBT rights) held on April 25, 1993. That is where I met my partner and is the date that my spouse and I called “our anniversary,” which is often what gay men choose as an anniversary date — the date that they met.
However, I was still in the closet. It took me a long time to come out.
What do I think about “coming out day”?
Honestly, I do not think that there needs to be a specific day for coming out, but the need for resources to help someone who is confused or afraid. I wish I had the resources available today back when I came out to my Mom, my family, then friends, my community (where I live, not the “gay community” where I didn’t live), then with co-workers in the office. But I am who I am, a confident and secure adult, mostly because of the support and love from my family.
Some people need time to build courage and strength, as well as to develop a plan on how to tell people you care about or who control your fate (such as a boss, landlord, etc.) that you are gay. For some people, coming out is very hard to do, because there still are parents out there who actively reject their children who are gay. There remain employers and bosses who directly or indirectly take averse action against homosexual people. Contrary to all the lovey-dovey stuff we see in the media, there are still gay people who are made to feel humiliated, inferior, afraid, and rejected.
While more gay people are coming out and identifying publicly that they are gay at a younger age, there are still large numbers of young people who were like I was at their age — confused, unsure, and generally so naive (or innocent) that they remained asexual. That was me after puberty and until my mid-20s. I was too damn busy with studies, extracurricular activities, and work after I graduated to think about sex with anyone, male or female.
I’m all for coming out — but at the right time, in the correct circumstances, and when one has developed the self-confidence and courage to do so.
Finally “coming clean” will do wonders in another way. I know some gay men well into their 40s and 50s who have never come out. Some of them behave quite negatively and viciously toward gay men who are out. Perhaps a demonstration of inner frustration, anxiety, anger, and jealousy? Probably all of these… their “vicious queen” behavior is so self-destructive. Fortunately, I never had to “out myself” for fear of being outted by one of these people, but I have seen it happen to some others. For older gay men still in the closet, I recommend psychiatric therapy, because vicious negative attacks and threats of “outting” someone is evident of a mental health issue exacerbated by hiding in the closet for so long.
If you’re gay or lesbian and are not “out” yet, go check those resources to which I referred and make a promise to yourself that some day (hopefully soon), you will decide to come out to those who you love, those you live with (at home and in your community), and at work. The relief one feels in “finally being free” is undescribable.
Life is short: be yourself — on your own schedule.