Thursday, October 11, 2012
This one almost slipped right by me, but apparently today is National Coming Out Day. Did you know?
Clearly, I'm an irresponsible gay blogger. How could you not know, Mr. Pirate? Don't you have this day on your calendar? Don't you have a massive, heartfelt, most-sensitive-post-yet offering to your readers, on this day of all days? HOW COULD YOU LET THIS DAY GO BY UNHERALDED??
Bad Pirate. Bad gay pirate blog person.
I've just been really busy with stuff.
I was sitting here this morning in my neighborhood coffeehouse, surrounded by hipsters, killing time on Facebook, and I saw a passing reference to it. Today, October 11th, is officially National Coming Out Day.
Which is cool, although I'm not quite sure what it means. Is it a day for people who have already come out, and want to feel extra good about themselves? Or maybe it's a day for people that haven't come out yet but have been waiting for the right time, a nationally designated occasion to do so? Like, are we going to see a bum rush of people running out of their homes and crowding the streets, shouting I'm gay today! I'm gay today! after the throwing open of a thousand closet doors?
Or is it a day for people that are already out, who want to come out again, to renew their Out Vows? (That might be a legal requirement for gay people every five years or so, like going to the DMV to get a fresh driver's license. There's a lot I still don't know.)
Or maybe I'm wrong and Coming Out Day isn't actually a gay thing at all. Maybe it's just a day to commemorate coming out of stuff. I came out of several rooms today already. Plus my car. Some days, just coming out of the house is a big deal, am I right?
Either way, I'm assuming if I go to the mall today, the Hallmark store will have a whole section of cards ready. So it's all very exciting.
(I know I'm just being lame with this. This is what we professional bloggers refer to as "winging it" after realizing we should've been on the ball, but dropped it instead.)
Actually, after consulting my crack team of experts at Wikipedia, I've learned that National Coming Out day is a day of civic awareness, "celebrating individuals who publicly identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender." It was started by a couple actual guys in 1988. Activists, not Hallmark card employees.
1988. I remember 1988. I was out of high school. I'd just moved to California and started college. I had a girlfriend I was crazy about. I was making some great friends, exploring the idea of being an adult without parents telling me what to do. Whatever gay impulses I had were deeply, deeply buried.
Others would obviously know this better than I, but being gay in 1988 didn't exactly seem easy. And coming out during that time was very different than it is now. You don't have to be gay to see that. I mean, it's never a picnic, but I imagine it was really, really rough for some. Depending on where you lived, the level of acceptance you might receive from your community was wildly unpredictable, to say the least.
I had two gay friends in 1988, both of whom I met during my Freshman year of college. One was out when we met, the other came out before we all graduated. They both were (and still are) charismatic, brash, fun, high-volume and unapologetically enthusiastic in every situation. The bright lights in the center of every room. If ever there were two guys who could come out with effortless panache and flair, it would be they. But I should ask them both more about that time in their lives. If I did, I bet I'd learn that their coming out stories included a lot more emotional turmoil than they ever let on.
I myself didn't come out until 23 years later. 2010.
I don't regret the delay. In those 23 years, I had adventures. I met unique and amazing people, I fell in love and got married, I had a beautiful daughter. Life has given me truckloads of gifts, both before my own Coming Out Day, and after.
I really like the idea of holidays for civic awareness. I bet the calendar is full of them, commemorating all kinds of people in our country, all types of individuality and awesomeness. I should be paying more attention to all of them. And not just on their officially designated days.
I'l acknowledge Coming Out Day by saying just a couple quick things, mainly for readers who have emailed me, telling me about some of your own struggles with the whole Should I Or Shouldn't I Come Out question:
1) No one gets to define or categorize your orientation but you.
2) No one gets to decide when/if to come out but you.
3) Coming out to yourself is more important than coming out to anybody else. Way more. That can be enough for now. How about doing that -- just that -- today? I don't know if you heard, but today's a holiday.
That's all. Happy Coming Out Day.
Sincerely, Your Steadfast Captain
P.S. I haven't mentioned this yet, but I'm one of the new contributors to Babble Voices, the blogging corner of the Babble parenting web site. I feel very strongly that you should head over there and give my little column a look.
Posted by Didactic Pirate at 10:27 AM
What say ye?