Come out talking

National Coming Out Day is Tuesday, Oct. 11. How will you spend it? Are you out and proud in your life? Or is your sexual-orientation on a need-to-know basis if others know it at all? What is your reason for coming out, or for staying in the closet?

Readers of BTL's editorial pages in the past have heard us say it before, but it bears repeating: come out, come out wherever you are.

It's not easy, it's not always fun, but it's vitally important for the larger LGBT rights movement as well as individual well-being. Though it probably won't be painless, for many people the reasons they list for not coming out are just excuses. The worst case scenarios they envision often never happen.

It is difficult to imagine how one could argue that staying in the closet enables a person to live a full, rewarding and emotionally healthy life. Heterosexuals, for example, would never dream of keeping their wives and husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends and even children a secret from their coworkers, neighbors, family and friends.

Of course, heterosexuals are the default orientation. Everyone assumes everyone else is straight unless proven otherwise. This makes being out and proud as a heterosexual a whole lot easier than coming out as LGBT.

Many have argued that LGBT people should keep quiet about their sexuality, that they don't want, as Michigan Senator Alan Cropsey so eloquently put it, the "same-sex thing" forced on them. This, of course, is an easy argument to make when one wants to see LGBT people remain invisible. It's so much easier to scapegoat an entire group of people that way. People who speak up, who demand respect and equal treatment, are an enormous pain in the right-wing neck.

Why? Because the anti-gay industry can't argue that gays and lesbians and transgender folks are abnormal, perverse, and a danger to children when the truth is shouting in their collective ears, and in the ears of those the anti-gay industry is trying to mislead.

The tide is shifting in America when it comes to LGBT people. More and more people are standing up in support and defense of their LGBT neighbors, coworkers, family and friends.

Study after study has shown that a person's support for LGBT rights is directly related to the number of LGBT people that person knows. The more people come out the harder it will be to justify passing anti-gay marriage resolutions. The harder it will be to get support for repealing DP benefits for same-sex couples. The harder it will be to exclude LGBT people from anti-discrimination legislation. The harder it will be for an anti-gay politician to stand up and say that the children of gay and lesbian couples shouldn't have the protection of two legal parents.

The theme of National Coming Out Day this year is "Talk About It." Get out there and tell your story. Someday sexual orientation and gender identity will be a non-issue. We aren't there yet, but we're getting closer. Step out of the closet, step into the future of equality.

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