Why com­ing out is vi­tal to our com­mu­nity

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Pride in At­lanta is cel­e­brated around Na­tional Com­ing Out Day. Some may find that quaint and oth­ers may find it odd and some will un­der­stand the im­por­tance.

We all en­counter on a daily ba­sis a col­lec­tion of LGBTQ+ kids/teens/youth who are com­ing to terms with their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der ex­pres­sion, gen­der iden­tity and many other is­sues in their lives. They need and seek role mod­els from those who have been there be­fore. Like it or not, oth­ers watch what their “el­ders” are do­ing and say­ing. We may never even be aware that some­one was look­ing at how we live our lives.

Those of us who have “come out” have an obli­ga­tion to all who fol­low us to be vis­i­ble and open about who we are. We teach by ex­am­ple. We teach by our vis­i­bil­ity. We let those who will cross the bridges we have al­ready crossed know that their lives are val­ued, pre­cious and wor­thy of all the same ac­co­lades as their straight coun­ter­parts. If we do not own who we are, if we are not our own au­then­tic selves in ev­ery way pos­si­ble, we are be­ing ir­re­spon­si­ble and self­ish. How can fu­ture gen­er­a­tions learn if they do not see ex­am­ples?

I lit­er­ally bris­tle when I hear ex­cuses about com­ing out and vis­i­bil­ity be­ing a “per­sonal mat­ter” or that vis­i­bil­ity is not needed. I would ask those who hold such opin­ions to take a mo­ment to pause and ask them­selves how they think they got to the point where they could be out, open and their au­then­tic selves. It didn’t just hap­pen. It was the re­sult of years of in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult work by lit­er­ally mil­lions of peo­ple. Ev­ery per­son who comes out and owns who they are does so stand­ing on the shoul­ders of all of those peo­ple who did the same thing be­fore them. It has taken a com­mu­nity to get us where we are … even as we see our ac­com­plish- ments be­ing jeop­ar­dized by mean, nasty and ill-in­formed of­fi­cials in our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in which we find our­selves lit­er­ally de­mands that we be out, loud and proud of who we are and what we have ac­com­plished. Our de­trac­tors need to see vis­i­ble ev­i­dence of those whose lives they in­tend to im­pact. Even enough snowflakes can bury some­one in an avalanche! So be out, be who you were cre­ated to be, be your au­then­tic self … not just for you but for that young per­son who looks up to you even when you do not know it.

“The po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in which we find our­selves lit­er­ally de­mands that we be out, loud and proud of who we are and what we have ac­com­plished. Our de­trac­tors need to see vis­i­ble ev­i­dence of those whose lives they in­tend to im­pact. Even enough snowflakes can bury some­one in an avalanche!”

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