Thursday, October 6, 2011

Coming Out Month: We Need You

In my research for an upcoming post, for Coming Out Month here at "This Gay Relationship," I watched a YouTube video from a young, gay man named Dan, who said he was impatient with gay people who didn’t come out and urged them to do it, because, as he put it, we need you.  

And so we do.

Of course, it’s not easy to come out to parents, friends, fellow students, teachers, colleagues, and whoever else might be in our lives.  Having come out himself, Dan understands that, and so do I.  I know from personal experience how difficult and lengthy the process can be for many of us--to get to the point where we feel comfortable enough with ourselves and our sexual orientations to tell people, particularly those we love and who love us back, or who we're dependent on in some way.  But that doesn’t take away from one simple fact:  We need you.

First of all, I need you.  I need you as another out gay brother or lesbian sister.  I need you out because I care what happens to you--perhaps more than I should.  I know what living life in the closet is like.  It isn’t living; it’s existing.  It’s getting by from one day to the next, going through the motions, knowing in your heart there’s so much more, yet not being a part of it.  From my own experience, I know just how much more is waiting for you after you’ve come out, after you’ve embraced yourself and everything you are, and I want you to take full advantage of that.  After all, you have only one life to live, and there’s no time to waste.
I need you to come out, too, because, even in 2011, it’s lonely out here.  Sure, gay and lesbian people are everywhere.  But, to a large extent, unless you frequent the places where they gather--for example, in the gay ghettos of large cities, bars, clubs, and organizations--we’re all isolated.  It’s difficult to find each other because, to some degree, we’re all still scared, even those of us who are out.  Family and friends may accept us for who we are, but, as a rule, we keep to ourselves because we’re not sure how the world in general will receive us.  I especially think about those gay and lesbian people in small communities, where there are few if any places for them to go to meet, to be in each other’s company.  When more of us come out, more of us are available to connect, to befriend each other, and to show our love and support.     
Which returns me to why we need you.  We, the gay and lesbian community, need you because we’re still at war, if you want to look at it that way.  The war we continue to fight every day is for legitimacy, for dignity, and for respect.  It’s for our human rights--to love who we want to love, to be protected equally under the law, and to have the right to marry our same-sex partners.  Each of us is a potential soldier in that war, yet most are not on active duty.  Most of us fight from the sidelines, give moral support, cheer the rest of us on from safe places.  That’s all they can do because they’re closeted, because they still live in fear, remain in hiding.  
When you come out, you join the ranks of all those who came before you, who had the courage to be who and what they were, and, in some cases, to take up political causes and fight vigorously on our behalf.  (We didn’t get to where we are today because all of our predecessors stayed in the closet.)  But, even if you’re not political or an active warrior, you still help fight the war with the rest of us when you come out, by being visible within your own sphere of influence, by being yourself, and by being an example for other gay people and for the mainstream community of what we’re about, what’s important and not important to us, and what we’re here to do.  
And that brings me to why the world needs you.  The world needs you to come out because you have talents, abilities, and gifts to offer, unique to you and you alone.  The world does not need these talents, abilities, and gifts compromised in any way because you can’t accept yourself as the gay or lesbian person you are, because you’re still hiding in the closet.  Life is about going big or going home.  There’s no room for half-baked efforts grounded in self-loathing and fear.  You need to give it all you’ve got, and the only way you can do that is to get over being gay or lesbian and to get on with the job of living your life to the fullest extent.    
So, yes, those of us who are out know what you’re going through.  We know how difficult making peace with what you are is because we’ve all been there.  And we recognize you need the time and the space to do your thing.  That’s why we’ll wait for you.  We'll wait for you because we need you.  Because there’s work to be done, a lot of work.  And because there's a war to be won.  And because there’s a world out there that not only wants all of you and everything you have to offer, but also needs you, fully and completely, to help improve the mess we’re in as a human race, and to do it with style and grace and fortitude.  


  1. Your words echo in my head. You are so true with your words. It's risky to take risks, but taking steps to the unknown is the only way to feel alive.

  2. Taking risks is the nature of life, elevencats. If you never take risks, you stay in the same place. You fail to grow. You never realize your fullest potential

    Of course, the risks you take should always be calculated. No one should take a risk without first assessing the best way to take it, or what the possible outcomes could be.

    Thanks for your comment and for the reassurance around my words.