October 11 is National Coming Out Day

Yup! It’s that time of year! Time to dust of the old address book and figure out who to come out to this year. Or, maybe this is your first time or two through? The time when you ask yourself if maybe this is the day to tell your parents that your “roommate” of 4 years is really more than just a “roommate.”
Either way, we make a choice — whether implemented with drama & flair or subtle acknowledgement — to tell someone we know that, in fact, he or she can no longer really say, “I don’t know any gay people” and mean it.
Each year at this time of year, I try to go that extra distance to disclose my sexual orientation with some unsuspecting person. Years ago, the result would be a multi-hour exchange in which I would tell my “story,” answer questions, and feel the burden of my “secret” lift. General targets were old friends, family members, and colleagues at work. These days, the process is gently incisive. A simple reference to my partner as a “she” or a mention of my business, TwoBrides.com & TwoGrooms.com (I am now, after all, a “professional homosexual”!) seems to do the trick. I answer questions asked of me, but otherwise just go about my business (no pun intended!) as usual.
So how does this relate to gay weddings, lesbian weddings, commitment ceremonies, civil unions or whatever course we choose to express our lifelong commitment to another person?
Because the act of a same-sex couple sharing a wedding ceremony with their community is one of the strongest acts of coming out there is. It is emotional. It is powerful. It reaches a large guest list in one fell swoop!
Here is the opportunity I see:
* There is a public proclamation of love for one another and the taking of a solemn vow of commitment to one another; all of which is a statement of pride and visibility.
* There is a chance for members of that couple’s community who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered to see a symbol of themselves in a light other than that available in a closed closet.
* There is a chance for members of that couple’s community who identify as heterosexual to understand that we, as humans, want much of the same thing — the chance to love openly those whom we love without fear or hiding.
* And, best of all, there is a chance for the parents and family members of that couple’s community, who know little more about the GLBT community than they have seen in extreme news footage from Pride Parades and protests, to see us for who we are — their sons and daughters, their nieces and nephews, their aunts and uncles — and to realize that there is so little to feel ashamed about; that our community, in the end, looks no different than the one they have chosen for themselves.
We want only to love each other and be embraced by those we love.
If that’s not worth coming out for, I don’t know what is!
For more resources on the HRC Coming Out Project, click here .
If you are someone who has just had a person tell them that s/he is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, and would like to learn more, visit PFLAG.
SWAK,
Kathryn

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