I’m thankful for many things, but today I’m especially thankful for National Coming Out Day, which is also today.
Coming out as LGBTQ, as an atheist, and/or as anything else seemed especially controversial within our circles is not easy. Many of us have lost friends and the respect of people we care about because of our openness and honesty, or worse. But hiding who we are to make others happier or more comfortable isn’t healthy, nor is it fair for people to ask it of us.
We need to support people when they come out. Not supporting them means we are being silent and absent when they need us the most.
Coming out takes a lot of courage and often they are rewarded with negativity and bullying, abuse and assault, or being disowned. Many have tragically been murdered after coming out. LGBTQ youth and adults make up a huge portion of the homeless population because in the U.S. it’s so common for them to be thrown out of their homes, or for them to be discriminated against in the housing and job markets. More than half of transgender people have faced attempted or successful physical violence just because of who they are.
This is no joke; being LGBTQ, especially in the U.S., greatly increases a person’s chances of being treated violently and cruelly. And even if they don’t face violence, they face rampant discrimination and social injustices. Marriage equality has only addressed part of the problem.
Let’s be supportive allies, friends, and loved ones. Let’s stop judging and assuming and open our hearts to people who are different than us. We need to see them as human beings, not enemy combatants in a culture war of our own making! Let our compassion lead our attitudes and actions, whether that compassion stems from religion or spirituality, humanism or feminism, or whatever. Love and acceptance is what’s important, not creeds or dogmas or labels or political affiliations.
And above all we need to listen. We need to hear their real stories, not the ones we create in our heads for them as though we know their journey better than they do.
Although my coming out experiences have been far from pleasant, I wouldn’t change it because being openly myself is far better than hiding to please others. I am me- you are you. We can live in peace if we try. 💕