Today is National Coming Out Day. And while it isn’t our nation’s National Coming Out Day specifically, people all over Facebook have been coming out as all sorts of things and also talking about what it means to be out.
At T.E.A.C.H., we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, trans*, asexual, genderqueer, pansexual, omnisexual, straight, questioning, queer, confused, demisexual, gender non-conforming, Two Spirit, butch, femme, fabulous and unidentified. We are out and proud, proud but not out, and sometimes out but not proud. We come out to our friends, but not to our families. We come out to our families, but not at work. We come out at work, but not to our friends. We invite our partners to family gatherings and work functions, but don’t name them. We name our partners even when we’re told not to. We wear “homophobia sucks” buttons on our backpacks, rainbows on our jewelry, our identities on our sleeves, our most fabulous bow ties, boas and dresses. And sometimes we don’t.
And all of this is okay. There are a lot of different ways to be, and there are a lot of different ways to be out. Maybe today, on National Coming Out Day, you want to share a part of who you are– whoever you are– with those around you. Maybe you don’t. It takes a lot of privilege to be able to name yourself in this world and to have that name both fit and feel safe. It’s not something that we all have, and it’s not something that we all want.
A lot of people feel pressured to come out in particular ways, especially on days like today. But today shouldn’t be about forcing anybody to sit down a family member, pull aside a classmate or change their Facebook relationship status. Instead, let’s find opportunities to celebrate who we are– for ourselves– and to create safer spaces where we can all be who we are in whatever ways feel right and safe.
Happy National Coming Out Day. You are fabulous!