Today, October 11, many of us observe annual National Coming Out Day (NCOD). Here’s a “Happy National Coming Out Day” to everyone who has revealed, plans to reveal, or intends to soon reveal their non-heterosexual orientation (aka “coming out”) to the people who are important in their lives. It’s always been my hope that one day the world will never need to have or observe such a day for non-heterosexual people; that everyone – whether living or deceased, will simply be respected for being who they are or were, and that people will be judged by the content of their character and never, ever by their ethnicity and/or by their sexual orientation.
Each year when National Coming Out Day is observed, I try to remind people (either through my blog or on social media) who are not “out” with their non-heterosexuality to their family members, friends, and acquaintances that they are never under any obligation to reveal their sexual orientation (aka “come out”) on this particular day nor any other day. They should not feel that they “have to” make some special or major announcement to that effect, unless of course, they want to; perhaps to mark the occasion for anniversary reasons. I simply believe that a non-heterosexual person should only reveal his or her non-heterosexuality to those persons whom he or she knows well and can trust; people with whom that non-heterosexual person can feel and be safe with and around. I advise people who wish to “come out” with their non-heterosexuality to first and foremost follow their instinct when making such an important decision. Considering that we live in a hetero-normal society – one which has many openly and closeted bigots, non-heterosexual people must carefully consider the pros and the cons that making such a personal intimate revelation might have upon his or her life and/or on their particular livelihood.
A person who plans to reveal his or her non-heterosexuality should have a means of strong, positive, emotional and psychological support (e.g., a close friend or relative who either is non-heterosexual him/herself or who happens to be a LGBTQ+ ally or is “gay friendly”), particularity if the grand news of the person who is coming out has a negative impact. This advice especially applies to those young teens and young adults who happen to still live at home with their parents or guardians; most particularly those parents or guardians who are or who have openly expressed their non-support, non-acceptance, and non-tolerance of non-heterosexual/LGBTQ+ people. This would be especially important if such parents or guardians provide the housing, food, and/or substantial financial support for their non-heterosexual young teen or young adult.
I would further advise that everyone – particularly younger people, to be mindful in their decision to come out/reveal their non-heterosexuality. They should not base such an important decision solely on what they may have heard or may have learned happened to someone else who earlier revealed his or her non-heterosexuality. While the personal testimony and experience of that other person may be (and should be) inspiring, it’s very important to keep certain things in their proper perspective based on one’s own real world aspects. In other words, a coming out story is not a “one size fit all” kind of thing. Whatever worked for someone else who came out of the non-heterosexual “closet” or whatever did not work for someone else who came out, may not have the same results for everyone else. Granted, there are many good and positive ‘coming out’ testimonials/stories – and that’s a most fortunate thing. However, there are also many bad and awful ‘coming out’ testimonials. Some stories have good endings while others will have a sad and often terrible ending. You can watch and listen to a number of coming out testimonies/stories on YouTube and on other social media video platforms. Just “google” the term “coming out” and the search engine will provide many links to a number of websites, personal blogs, videos, and social media networks where someone is either giving coming out advice, sharing a personal coming out story, or providing a link and/or phone number for coming out support. On Facebook and Twitter, the tag #comingout or #coming_out may provide links to related content.
Revealing the truth of one’s sexual orientation in a world where heterosexuality is considered “the norm” isn’t always easy nor will it always have immediate positive results. Such a revelation about one’s sexual self is indeed a personal choice; one which must operate under one’s personal timetable, not by any peer pressure or threats, and certainly not by any pressure which may be given by other non-heterosexuals who are already out. No one has a right to “out” anyone nor force or coerce any closeted non-heterosexual person to reveal his or her true sexual orientation.
I cannot argue that in many instances it’s sometimes better when people know one’s non-heterosexual orientation. While such a personally intimate detail should not even matter, the sad fact remains that we still live in a prudish yet hypocritically religious, and often peculiar society where another person’s sexuality and/or what that person does sexually with someone else, is of great interest. Then there are people who are bigots and in that number are those particular individuals and organizations who would try to use a person’s known or suspected non-heterosexuality as a tool to embarrass, harass, and/or blackmail that person into doing something he or she doesn’t want to do. However, if one is already out as a non-heterosexual person then he or she can neither be embarrassed nor blackmailed (but still subject to harassment) simply on the basis of their sexuality. (This would be one of the pros or heathy benefits for coming out and being out as a non-heterosexual person.)
Here are several more reasons for why coming out as non-heterosexual and living in one’s truth are important:
- Being out with your non-heterosexuality and living in your truth means never having to live in [further] misery, shame, nor embarrassment;
- Being out means never having to sneak around and/or hide what you say or do;
- Being out means you don’t have to lie about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – nor about anything that’s non-heterosexual about you;
- Being out means never having to lie, justify, or even prove to someone about your sexuality being fluid, nor do you have to explain why you have an emotional and/or sexual preference to someone who is your gender or – like bisexual and pansexual people, an emotional and/or sexual preference to both or to any gender;
- Being out means never having to hide nor lie about who you dated or fucked, nor for whom you might have a sexual desire or lust; that would include you being relieved that you no longer have to change the gender pronoun of someone of your gender whom you happened to be dating or simply fucking;
- Being out with your non-heterosexuality and living in your truth means you’re much freer to be the ‘you’ that you were always meant to be: authentic.
Fortunately, the number of people who either don’t (or won’t) give a fuck about the sexuality of another person is growing. We can attribute much of that growth to heterosexual/straight people becoming more educated about human sexuality and its fluidity, as well as to the fact that many non-heterosexual people all over the world have been and are continuing to reveal – either publicly or within their family or local community, their non-heterosexuality to relatives, friends, schoolmates, and co-workers every day. There is great indisputable truth that LGBTQ+ people are LEGION! We are indeed EVERYWHERE!
The annual National Coming Out Day gives non-heterosexual people much inspiration. If the public and family “coming out” of non-heterosexuals trend continues, and if more human rights and privileges for LGBTQ+ people are allowed, and if more tolerance and acceptance is given for all of us who are non-heterosexual and members of the LGBTQ+ family, then I believe our society – our world – will eventually no longer be considered “heteronormal”. The word “normal” – as it has long been applied to heterosexuality (hence the word “heteronormal”), will be freely applied to mean and to include everyone where human sexual orientation is concerned.
Finally, if you are not out and are unsure as to when or if you will ever come out/make public your sexual orientation, just remember that you will know when it’s time. Hopefully when or if that time comes you’ll be ready and confident to simply state – without feeling any shame, embarrassment, or hesitation, that you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, pansexual or whatever (if you feel the need to use a non-permanent labelling term to identify your non-heterosexuality) or if you so prefer, you may simply state, “I’m sexually fluid.” – and leave it at that. Hopefully the reception you receive after telling your truth to someone will be positive, respectful, and loving.
Whomever you are, whatever you do, and wherever you go, always be you and be sexy-confident about it all! Happy National Coming Out Day!
Click here to read my friend, Roger P.’s ReNude Pride blog article on National Coming Out Day. (It’s a much shorter read. 😎)