Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. A day where activists and LGBT organizations all across the country urge those who are suffering or struggling, fearful of insecurity and rejection, to come out. I wish everyone a happy coming out day- for those who feel it applies to them. I have always said that I never advocate someone coming out unless they feel it's the best thing for them to do.

With that in mind, I now want to mention that many people don't come out- not because of fear of rejection or fear of the unknown, but because of the stigma associated with it. So many people assume that "coming out" means they suddenly need to act a certain way, behave a certain way, dress a certain way and march in their local Pride Parade. This does not have to be the truth. Coming out doesn't mean any of that. Coming out simply means acknowledging who you are, and understanding that part of you or all of you is same-sex attracted. That's all it means. Where you go from there is your choice. Whether you act differently, dress differently, is all a personal choice.

Many people become "different" when they come out because they are finally letting out a side of them that had been suppressed for so long, which is why they act so "gay".  But just because you come out does not mean you have to do that. Someone who comes out can be the same person they were before, and nothing has to be any different unless you want it to be. Many people will admit to being homosexual but are so scared of being "gay".  There doesn't have to be this difference. The more we stigmatize and develop a rift between these two categories, the worse off the LGBT community will be by dividing itself and limiting its numbers.

Being gay, or being homosexual, should be one in the same. Many people I know simply come come out as queer- a label many straight people subscribe to as well, just to avoid socially constructed labels of being "straight" or "gay". So happy coming out day- whoever you are- straight, gay, or homosexual. And remember- a label doesn't have to change who you are.


  1. I've started coming out relatively recently and these words aptly present an issue I've been facing. I've generally tried to avoid labels and their resulting stigmatization, but I've recently learned to stop caring so much about them and just do what I want to do. So yes I've been wearing tighter clothing and making more frequent homoerotic innuendos with friends, but I also gutted a fish and enjoyed doing it. The point is the ways we fit a stereotype will always get more attention. But we can also focus on what makes us individual, because though people perceive the LGBT community as homogeneous, it really isn't.

  2. I came out to a family member today! My first family member. It is a cousin and I knew he would be cool so it wasn't a really difficult experience (not like the ones to come....) but still. Someone from my family knows about me. It feels great.

  3. I think you make a really good point in this blog post. There really is this huge stigma that if you admit to being gay, that means you have to now act, dress, and speak a certain way. And yes, many do this but thats because that is who they are and the reason they weren't acting that way before coming out was because they were afraid to admit to themselves who they really are. Yet a person can most definitely be gay and act "straight", in the sense of being "macho" or liking sports and etc, whatever the "stereotype" of being a man is. I'm not gonna lie, when i meet someone who is gay but doesnt "seem like it", i am shocked and it is hard for me to believe that they are actually gay. And i may even say something to them along the lines of me not believing them.
    But you make a good point. I really need to watch out what I say or even think because I am one of the many causing this stereotype. And because of this stereotype, people may be afraid to come out because they dont want that stigma of being "gay" labeled on their foreheads. No one deserves to hide who they really are. And youre right, "nothing has to be any different unless you want it to be".

  4. "Coming out simply means acknowledging who you are, and understanding that part of you or all of you is same-sex attracted. That's all it means. Where you go from there is your choice."

    Ely, in an ideal world this statement would be true. I beg to differ, respectfully.

    In the kind of world we live in, coming out opens a whole new pandora's box of issues. Yes, it alleviates the anxiety of living a lie and allows someone to align more comfortably with the LGBT community, but it also brings along some irreversible consequences as well.

    The reality is that coming out is a life sentence of discrimination and persecution. Always having to prove that you can still be ______ (insert various adjective/label/identity/affiliation/occupation/political orientation) even though you're gay. And yeah, it's sad but true, and should be taken into account when someone chooses to come out.

    I think it's also important to note that coming out in the Jewish world has more permanent ramifications on you and your family. There are people out there who have wrestled with homosexuality and got to a point where they married women. And some of them are happy and making it work. Now, if these men had come out publicly in earlier days, they would not have been able to get married later.

    Again- I'm not here to debate whether men struggling with homosexuality should get married to women. It's a complex topic and is so far from a black-and-white simplistic conclusion. But, I do want to highlight that in a world where you can press 'undo' on your computer, you can't press 'undo' on the worlds you say and the declarations you make to the world.


It Gets Better- Gay Orthodox Jews