I wrote the post linked below for National Coming Out Day in 2012. I wish I had some deeper insight on the subject than I did two years ago. I don’t. I wish I’d developed the skill to express myself more articulately so people who have not shared the experience might understand it better. I haven’t. Perhaps ‘coming out’ stories are meant to be exercises in ‘preaching to the choir’. National Coming Out Day is when people who already understand share with each other and celebrate how far we’ve come. Telling our stories is about empowering the storyteller, not changing the hearts and minds of those who might hear us.
Some things have changed since 2012. The move toward marriage equality seems to be achieving some kind of critical mass. That should be cause for celebration. But that same critical mass arriving, as it has, on the eve of the upcoming mid-term elections means the voices of hatred have never been louder. Not a day goes by when I am not confronted in the media by rhetoric of the most profound ugliness aimed directly at me and many of the people I care about.
That said, and with proper shout out to Sophie Tucker, ‘I’ve been ‘out’ and I’ve been closeted. Out is better.’ Yes, the escalation of hatred in this country frightens me. I’m frightened by what is going on in Russian and Uganda. It disturbs me that supposedly responsible political leaders in this country feel so comfortable voicing their support for what is happening in those countries. I’d have thought reasonable people with sincerely held conservative beliefs would be embarrassed by their thought-leaders expressing such wholehearted devotion to the moral descendants of Joseph Stalin and Idi Amin. Sadly, I’d be wrong.
People who lack understanding and empathy will not change their minds because of National Coming Out Day. Light will not penetrate their closed minds any more than it could penetrate the closet door. So it is just like the other 364 days of the year. I can live with that. There will always be reasons for fear. But being closeted does not just mean being afraid. It means being afraid and alone in a dark place. There is no way that’s better.