In Honor of National Coming Out Day

Today you will see me celebrating in the freshman dining hall, passing out rainbow-colored cake as one of the LGBT proctors and cheering queers on. It’s the 20thanniversary of a great celebration, and I look forward to it. 

That said this day should not come without a note of warning. Some within the queer community come out only to actively disdain those who don’t take the step in some or all aspects of their lives. It’s simply disrespectful, and anyone who has gone through the experience should know better. Your aunts, your uncles, your siblings, your cousins, your friends; they’re all important parts of your life, and what you share with them is more than just a choice, it is a matter of trust within a cultural setting. People’s situations are often beyond the reach of our own experience, our level of understanding, and the nuances of that context very often escape us.  Sometimes the very friends or mentors of closeted queers openly reject their choices, and diminish them to fears and trepidations. After all the bullshit we have to put up with as queer people, it seems completely absurd that members within our very own community can be so self-righteous as to forget some of our own experiences and struggles, and simply, why we chose to say it loud and proud.

 I’m all for it, definitely. The decision to come out has proven a challenge that strengthened my own sense of security. I’m not denying who I am to the people I care the most about, the people I want to be the most open with. I feel like a more complete person because I am able to be more open about myself with others, no matter who they are and what they might think.

 But it is a work-in-progress, particularly when it comes to the slightly-more-distant family members, burrowed along the margins of the cultures I identify with. There’s plenty to juggle along the way, and in my big and loving family, I take the step to come out—or not—because I care for them.