On the Liberation of Coming Out

Photo: JBrazito
Photo: JBrazito

Happy Coming Out Day!

How easy it seems to just say the words “I’m gay” or “I’m a lesbian” or “I’m bi” or “I’m trans” and be done with it.

The reality is that for a lot of LGBT people there are years of anxiety and uncertainty built up behind those words and you don’t know what kind of reaction you’re going to get. Some people will say they’ve known since you were a child and others will pretend like they didn’t hear the words that came out of your mouth. It’s that fear of not knowing that becomes such a huge mental obstacle.  

But coming out isn’t about other people. It’s about you. It’s a deeply personal moment where you have to make the decision to continue hiding a part of who you are or live openly. And in that moment, you have to push aside what other people may think, say or do and look at the bigger picture.

Will YOU be happier, will YOU be healthier and will YOU be a stronger person by living openly?

We live in a country where Ellen DeGeneres, an open lesbian, is one of the nation’s most beloved talk show hosts, where audiences across the country are rooting for Kurt and Blaine to make it as a couple on the hit show “Glee”, and where children and parents can sit in a car together and listen to Macklemore’s “Same Love” without changing the station.  We’ve come a long way in terms of acceptance of the LGBT community, and that certainly helps to make coming out easier for many people.

But we can’t downplay how much farther we have to go.  Homophobia is alive and thriving in many parts of this country. People are still being assaulted and killed for the simple act of holding their loved one’s hand in public.  So for a teen living in rural Alabama, the question of “what are people going to say or do if they find out” is still very much a frightening thing to ponder.

Indeed, whether you are 16 or 60 coming out can be a scary reality to face.

But coming out is also liberating.

There is nothing better than saying “I am who I am and you can take it or leave it.” Nobody can tell you when, where or how to do it, but when you decide to say those words, you will become stronger, more confident, and more secure in yourself. Coming out may mark an end to years’ worth of fear and uncertainty, but it also represents the beginning of a whole new journey.

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