On October 11th, National Coming Out Day will be observed by members of the GLBT community. This is the day that we share our experiences, both positive and negative, in hopes that our GLBT peers will find the courage to step out of the closet.
Coming out to friends and family, if they couldn’t figure it out on their own, can be a roller coaster of emotions. Fear of rejection, hate, disgust, banishment and even violence have kept many in a life of lies and self loathing. How can you have pride in yourself when you can’t be your self?
Paula the Surf Mom, had this to say:
I’ve been told in the past that some folks think its cool that I am gay, but that I should keep that information to myself, mostly because it makes them uncomfortable. I’ve also heard that they think we gays make too much of the coming out process, again mostly because us being out pushes their comfort envelope. It is my feeling that staying in the closet is a very unhealthy state of affairs, that is will destroy ones self-esteem and the very act of staying in the closet reinforces other more prejudice views about gays and lesbians.
Some people have very accepting friends and family. They’ve been “outed” with open arms and understanding. Most of the people I’ve spoken with say that their friends and/or family said they had known for ever and that they were glad that they had trusted and loved them enough to tell them. While many others have had not so tender moments.
Way back in high school, almost a decade now, I was the token fag. I was Proud Loud and in the school’s face. Demanding private groups/clubs and fair treatment. So it’s no surprise that a few of my peers came out to me. Mostly seeking help and guidance or expressing fear of their families reaction. I would always say “it’s better to be hated for who you are than loved for being a fruad.”
Sometimes though, that’s not the case. One peer, will call him John, wanted to be open and out but lived with the fear of his minister father. They ran a radio sermon that preached the evils of fags and lezzies. Being a college town there are plenty of both. I was even a target of their bile, for being the token fag of a school district with over 10,000 students.
They preached violence and retribution for the sodomites. “Until we have purged our communities of these rampant sodomites, homosexuals, lesbians and pedophiles, we will never receive the glory of God.” How could you come out when that statement is broadcast by your own parents?
Well, John never got the chance to come out to his parents. They shipped him off to one those “Gay Conversion” wilderness camps. I won’t go into detail about that place, suffice it to say it’s like a torture camp. After completing the program he returned home and confirmed to his family that he was straight. He even pretended to date a girl.
John ended up tramping around looking for acceptance and love. The things he couldn’t get from his family. He spent most of high school in fear that someone would out him and he’d be kicked out of the home or beaten by his father. We talked often about being better off without them and how he didn’t need their approval. But we do need it! It’s our family, and at that age going through all the things the world will throw at you, you need the support.
He has since parted ways with his family. He has accepted who he his and has discovered a new family that loves and supports him. But has taken many years and endless emotional hurdles.
By sharing this I hope that others will find the courage to stand and say “Love me or leave me, I’m Gay”.