Today is National Coming Out Day. A day in which people are encouraged and supported to come out of the closet as LGBTQ. Surely, many remain in the closet for a variety of reasons including social fear, job security, family, etc. Many of these are completely legitimate and valid reasons to stay closeted and most people know whether it is safe or not for them to come out.
Unfortunately, it’s easier for some people to remain closet than others. Some people don’t really have a choice. However, many people do have a choice about how open they are with the people in their lives and honestly, when we choose to remain in the closet we aren’t empowering ourselves or others.
It’s a plausible idea that part of the reason the LGBTQ rights movement has taken so long to progress, because unlike other minorities who can’t simply hide in the closet, LGBTQ people often select to shun themselves from the rest of society. They aren’t out to their straight friends, in public, at work, or to their family.
While certainly many LGBTQ individuals live and work in places where being totally out could have real detrimental effects in their lives, there are many who choose to remain in the closet simply because they are ashamed or embarrassed to come out. The longer this fear of coming out is internalized, the harder it becomes to come out.
The fact is, for many, the fear of coming out is completely irrational. There are many people who choose to remain closeted that probably would be greeted with nothing short of love and support from friends and family if they came out. Especially for self-sufficient adults living in fairly liberal areas, the case for remain closeted becomes almost nonexistent.
Sure, you might have a few friends and family members who will make snide remarks, or someone might yell “fag!” when kissing your partner in public, but for many people, that’s probably the worst that might happen. The truth is, in many cases the personal empowerment you will feel and contribution to the LGBTQ community you will offer far outweighs the possible negatives of coming out.
Coming out has a far greater impact than personal satisfaction. It makes the LGBTQ community more visible to the rest of society and provides encouragement for youth that are in situations where it’s simply unsafe for them to be out at the point they’re at in their lives. If everyone who could safely be out was out, the LGBTQ rights movement would propel forward by leaps and bounds.
So, if you’re still in the closet, ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? Am I staying in the closet merely because I’m ashamed to be myself? Think about how empowered you’ll feel once you break down that wall and can be open and honest with people in your life, without that constant nagging fear of being outed. Think about the impact you’ll have on the movement by adding to the public awareness and how your presence will offer hope to that LGBTQ youth who can’t yet be out.
Just do it. Come out. Your community needs you to put yet another face to our fight. The tide is shifting and it’s shifting because people are having real conversations with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who are LGBTQ. Maybe we can’t all be out at the moment, but if you safely can, consider it! You don’t have to live another self-shaming day in the closet. You can come out and chances are, you are only going to be greeted with love and support!