National Coming Out Week: Pro (10/15/99)

[Otto's Internet additional: There was a "con" article, too, but I don't dare put it up, as the person who wrote it is a sociopath.]

Yep, it's National Coming Out Week again. Were you here last year? Then you remember. Were you not? Then come to the Alliance office; I'm sure we can dig up the photographs. (My favorite one is the chalk body outline with "Die Fag" written next to it.) It's time again for the resentment and the suspicion. I hope I don't have to end up being an escort again because people are afraid to walk back to their dorms alone.

For those of you who are glad of the event, who wear the ribbons or the rings or who support your friends quietly through acceptance and affection, just keep up the good work. I'm not terribly concerned about preaching to the choir. Against the pro-Coming Out week chalking? Unsure? Read on.

See, the issue at hand is not particularly one of the burning ones that screams "political platform." We're not talking about same-sex marriage here, or gay adoption, or repealing the anti-sodomy laws, none of that. I'll come back to how those issues are involved later. But all we're really talking about right now is identity. The right to say who you are and why it is important to do so, that's the point of National Coming Out Week.

Do you know what secrets do? They eat people alive. They feed and grow and create haunted people, people having to bear burdens of significance by themselves. Even priests have their confessors. National Coming Out Week is a chance for people struggling with the nature of their own existence to unburden themselves to their loved ones.

Yes, yes, I know - you don't want this forced upon you. It's not part of your belief system, to accept and approve of homosexuality. Know what? It. Doesn't. Matter. I don't care if you think homosexuality is a dehabilitating fault on a level with alcoholism. Do you think alcoholics heal by burrowing into themselves?

You owe it to your friends and family - yes, I said family - to be willing to listen without sneering or shuddering, to sit down and hold their hands and figure out what it means to be and to live as a homosexual. And don't meet them with those horror stories you've been fed about "the gay lifestyle." You owe them this, as human beings.

But all this understanding and comforting leads, you say, to gay rights, to "outrageous" demands for same-sex marriages and other legal rights. Sure, it does. Know why? Because no one in this country, conservative or liberal, straight or gay, is satisfied with the current state of gay rights. They're dissatisfied for different reasons, but that's not the important thing. The important thing is that so much of this dissatisfaction stems from mutual suspicion and misunderstandings, problems which cannot be solved when one side of the debate is afraid to even reveal its identity. We need people to be able to stand up on these issues and say, This is where I have been, this is where I am, this is what I've seen, and this is what I think needs to be done. National Coming Out Week is a way to allow people to say these things, and to forbid it is to enforce self-censorship.

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