National Coming Out Day – 2014

It is National Coming Out Day. In my opinion, this is not simply about reiterating what most people may already know about many of us, but also about creating and enlarging a space of comfort and safety for those who still struggle to understand themselves – to say nothing for hoping to help others to understand them. This is complex because everyone’s environment – on both macro and micro levels – varies so greatly that we cannot juxtapose our own experience onto the life of another person. I was extremely fortunate and blessed that while I did experience questions and concerns from my own circle, I never had to doubt that there was always love, compassion, and respect. That was 17 years ago. It’s a much different world from even a few years ago, let alone 17 years ago, let alone a 35 years ago when I was born. Even in the time since I was willing to make this peace with myself – a greater struggle than telling anyone else – my understanding has drastically altered. The binary that can be so easy to refer to, with a single middle ground, is not really as cut and dry as many would like to think. There was no switch; there was just recognition. It is not not a set of distinct plot points on an axis with easy labels and definitions; it is a continuum that is anything but static. The more readily that fact is understood and respected, the more easily people will begin to accept not just others but perhaps their own ever-changing continuum. Just as my own relationship with another man does not mean I need to fear the occasional recognition that a woman may appeal to me (Emma Watson perhaps), so too a “straight” person need not fear a fleeting appreciation for one of their gender identity, or anything in between for that matter. Coming out should not be looked on as a single act of declaring just one of the many characteristics that make us human. It should be a state of mind. Sociologists are always working to understand more how people relate to one another. However, this should be a reasonable endeavor for everyone to take on.


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