National Coming Out Day
October 11 is National Coming Out Day. For years, I’ve made a joke of this on social media. “Hey, friends, guess what?” Or, “Surprise!” There’s a sort of forgetting when you’ve been “out” for nearly 2/3 of your life. But I have recently reawakened to a powerful truth. Coming out, even today, is risking your life.
A few years ago, I was working in a summer program for high school students, and a boy came to class with his face bruised and swollen. An adolescent fight? No. Gay bashing by other young people? No. His father beat him because he was gay. His father.
Other teenagers become homeless, hence the need for homeless shelters dedicated to the care of LGBTQIA+ youth. Drug addiction is rampant among LGBTQIA+ as a result of this violence, shame, and isolation. And last but most important, dozens of transwomen, gay men, and lesbians are maimed and murdered each year.
In such an environment you may wonder, why come out?
First, it is hard to be two people—to show one face to the world and another only to your closest friends. It sharpens the shame and self-loathing that our families, churches, and friends inadvertently (at best) instilled in us from the cradle. Also?
In 1980, when I was 21, we realized that it was the only way to change the world. If you, my beloved friends, see me for who I am, then perhaps it will be harder for you to hate another LGBTQIA+ person. As a mentor once told me about race, “It is hard to hate your grandchildren.”
To my friends still thinking about whether to come out? If you come out, I will stand with you and support you with all my heart. If you do not, I will stand with you and support you with all my heart.
National Coming Out day is still important.
I am Karen Jensen, a queer, feminist, sober,Christian woman.