There are times when the search for personal identity can be one of the most painful moments in a persons life. There are realities that one faces, harsh realizations, and tender moments left to reconcile with. It’s all a part of being alive, of being fully human...accepting and loving the depths of who you are. This metamorphosis is a right of passage made of internal growth to build inner beauty and strong character. However, not everyone has such a positive awakening of self. There are those among us who struggle with who they are, simply because there are those who will reject their life and the love they have within them.
Tomorrow is October 11th, National Coming Out Day. In the United States, millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals will come together and celebrate who they are. This special day is meant to be a testament to the nation, that the GLBT community is strong in love. It is a day to encourage open hearts, and acceptance within society so that some day we might have the RIGHT to LOVE those in our lives.
The theme for this years National Coming Out Day is “Talk About It”.
Society is only as homophobic as you let it be. If you listen to the gay joke and don’t say that you are offended, you might as well have told the joke yourself (don’t worry, we’ve all been there). If you haven’t come out as a straight ally yet, you should do so, because our real allies are those who are out of the closet too. And if you are gay, you know that coming out is a process, and so on this day, continue your process of loving and living well, by being OUT in your communities.
No one said this was going to be easy, and as any gay person can tell you, some days are better than others.
The following is a short list of things you can do to be a better ally or even combat the homophobia within you. Hey, lets be honest, not everyone is ready to accept gay people for who they are, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t change.
1. Express your love. If you know someone who identifies as GLBT, make sure you tell them how much you appresiate them. Give them a hug and tell them that you love them. Many times, we lose those we love because a lack of acceptance. Families disown us, friends can do the same. We end up building our own families and communities, but it is always important to know that we are loved. So on this day, shower you GLBT family and friends with love. Leave your judgement at the door, and simply let them know that you care.
2. Come out as an ally. Nothing says I love you more than standing up to homophobia and oppression. Real commitment in a relationship is demonstrating loyalty in the difficult moments, and sometimes it’s as easy as wearing a T-shirt that people will see, and know that you are accepting of the GLBT community. Here’s one you can check out… http://www.finebyme.org/
To be a ally, check this out…
3. Educate yourself a bit. If you don’t know a lot of gay people, or haven’t been a part of someone’s “coming out story”, then now is the time to of awareness for you. Many times, coming out is traumatic and painful, but on the flip side, realizing one’s sexuality can be a liberating moment full of love and acceptance. Check out these coming out stories, and learn what it’s like.
But don’t stop the education there, expand your world and start meeting people. Watch a movie that has a gay person in it. Read a book by a gay author, or attend a lecture in your area about homophobia. Every little moment is important for you, and each experience should be processed through dialogue and self reflection. We all have to begin somewhere, and education is always the first step. (Note: If you want to get really educated, find out what it’s like for GLBT individuals in other countries. Depending on cultural differences, things can be a lot more difficult and even violent. And in our sheltered world, the reality can be eye opening.)
4. Host a GLBT friendly event. Maybe you will host a GLBT documentary and speaker at a local community center, or encourage religious dialogue at your own church. Any event that promotes dignity and love of the GLBT community is another step in the right direction .
5. Monitor your words and encourage healthy dialogue. In the spirit of this years theme, freely talking about GLBT issues in every facet of life means one less place we have to be closeted. Learn about the power of words and identify those phrases in the lives of GLBT individuals that are encouraging and those that are offensive. Many times, these words will be different for everyone, but it never hurt to ask. Here is a list of terminology you might want to stay away from.
* Fag or faggot or dyke
* Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Look, this is the bottom line. It’s damn hard to be gay these days, but it sure is a lot easier than it was in the past. We can use all the help we can get, so that one day we can lead lives with the same rights as everyone else. We are normal people who go to church, have families, jobs, we vote and we have love in our lives. Being gay is not about sex...it’s about love...and it’s about identity. We’ve all lost people in our lives because they couldn’t love and accept us for who we are, but now is the time to start accepting new people in our lives who are willing to love AND fight oppression by our side.