Kids today have all of these pop culture examples of people of every gender identity and sexual orientation living their best lives, creating joy and sharing it with others.
Sadly, the danger in coming out has not ended. Discrimination and hate crimes still occur against anyone perceived as other than 100% cisgender, gender conforming, and heterosexual. While we celebrate Pride and the liberation of coming out, we must continue to respect the privacy of those who have not chosen to disclose their personal details or raise a flag or accept a particular label from the quirky and ever-evolving alphabet soup that exists in our particular culture.
I am so heartened to witness greater acceptance, self-love, and community love blooming every new year even as my close friends and I remember young friends who have died of AIDS (yes, that still happens) and deaths of despair. We take care to protect each other's dignity and privacy in a world that still isn't equal, affirming, and safe for all of us, physically or emotionally.
To celebrate Pride month 2021, I will be consuming a variety of queer stories and art, and today I am posting a flashback to what I wrote on this very blog on Coming Out Day in 2009. Some things haven't changed, but we've come a long way, Toddlerz!
Post Excerpt from Coming Out Day 2009
The amount of denial that religious parents can be in is downright hallucinatory. You cannot assume that "they have to know." Sometimes they do, and they say "I was waiting for you to tell us." Sometimes they don't, and it's unbelievable.They say, "Did anyone else know?" and the whole world nods in reactive disbelief.
Fear, disgust, and shame are powerful emotions, especially when drilled into a family over generations through fundamentalist religion, rabid nationalism, or the like. But I know what's stronger than all of those forces put together.
If there is a grain of love to be found in a human being, it has the power to overcome fear, cowardice, prejudice, shame, disgust, and the most thorough indoctrinations. Today, my parents fully understand and support my spiritual beliefs, and theirs have even changed as a result of our conversations. Some of my closest queer friends have had this experience too, and now they get along better with their parents than ever before.
To come out is to send out a shock wave of love and respect for yourself, and love and respect for your family and friends who deserve honesty. Coming out is like a prairie fire. It burns away the old, dead, dry, superficial elements of a relationship that were based on denial and conditional approval. There is always a risk, but only after the fire can the new seeds of colorful wildflowers germinate and make possible a rebirth, a new life more healthy, whole, and beautiful than before. Someday, I hope that Coming Out won't be necessary because parents will not automatically expect their children to be heterosexual and cisgender according to a strict binary. But for now, each Coming Out is a step toward love and wholeness for all of us together.
I hope that everyone, gay or straight, male or female, or any other possible shade of humanity, can find the courage to love ourselves and our neighbors for who we are--whoever we are--on Coming Out Day!
I leave you with one of my favorite pop musicians, Mika, who recently "came out" as someone not fully or accurately defined by the label "heterosexual." Mika has until recently resisted "coming out" under a particular socially constructed label, which I completely support. However, it is empowering when a celebrity steps forward and says, in whatever words, "I transcend the boundaries of this definition of normalcy... and I'm freaking fabulous."
We played the song "Love Today" by Mika at our infamous wedding dance party.
Everybody's gonna love today, gonna love today
Any way you want to, any way you've got to
Love, love me, love, love me, love, love