Today, October 11, 2013 is the 25th anniversary of NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY. It is the day we encourage all Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, and Intersexed individuals to come out of the closet of secrecy, to acknowledge their own identity for what it is, rather than what others wish it might be. Everyone must make their own choice about whether to come out of the closet or not (unless they actively work against the interest of LGBT folks, in which case they will be outted).
I came out on National Coming Out Day 1998. Never having done it before, I literally jumped out of the closet by coming out to my boss. I had some idea that I should tell administration before my co-workers and clients found out. I felt like an outlaw, and I was desperately trying to show that I still played by all the other rules. I was immediately terminated, with three days notice.
Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat, even knowing what it would cost me. But I definitely would not tell my boss – he’d have to find out through witnessing my life lived honestly. Now, fifteen years later, I’m sure it was never any of his business in the first place.
So I recognize that it’s not an easy thing to come out, is what I’m trying to say. It’s worth it, and in the long run it’s the best thing you can ever do for yourself. But in the immediate future you will most likely face some kind of opposition. This is to be expected and I won’t lie, your life will never be the same afterward. Publicly acknowledging who you are will change how the world views you, and how you walk through life. People you thought you could count on will disappoint you, and others you’d have sworn wouldn’t accept you will become your biggest supporters. It will be easier for some, and more difficult for others, but such is life.
Today I am posting a slide show I put together ten years after coming out, Famous LGBTQ Folks. Tomorrow I will post another, Famous LGBTQ Folks Part II. I created them to shore up my own publicly acknowledged lesbianism, and remind myself and others of some incredible role models. Some of the people in these videos insisted on doing their work while out, if not loud or proud. Of those, some succeeded wonderfully and others were jailed, beaten, and/or murdered. Others in these lists stayed in the closet during their lifetimes to protect their careers, their truths only surfacing because of memories of still living lovers and gossip columnists.
If you’re still in the closet, please come out and join us, living in the sunlight of truth, happiness, and freedom. Remember, a flower never bloomed while locked in a closet. The more of us who come out, the more straight people will recognize how normal we really are. Our rainbow garden grows bigger and more vibrant when you open that closet door, come out to the real world, and plant yourself in the sun.