Today is the 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day – an annual day of awareness started based on the belief that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance. It is a day of celebration and liberation; a day of personal and political action; a day to remind us that stories are a powerful force toward reaching equity under the law and that love is love is love is love.
If you are lucky enough to have someone come out to you, or to invite you in to that part of their life, there are a couple things to DO and a couple things to DON’T do to help make sure your loved one feels safe, supported, and celebrated.
DO share what an honor it is to be a trusted confidant and DO say thank you. DON’T co-opt their story with a story of your own about identity, sexuality or coming out. There’s plenty of time to tell your stories later. DO ask when and where it’s okay to share. Not everyone who is out to you will be out in all spaces and it’s never okay to out them to someone else before they are ready. DO tell them that you are curious to know more about this aspect of their life (if you are) and let them lead the conversation, but DON’T PRY! Nobody likes a Nosey Nancy and you don’t need to know the details of anyone’s sex life to support their right to equity under the law or their happiness. DO take it personally if someone comes out to all of your other friends or family members but not to you. Think about what you might be doing or saying that would make you seem untrustworthy or not a safe person to come out to, but DON’T pout and make it about you. For a lot of queer people, coming out is an ongoing process that has to be navigated throughout their entire lives, assessing the risk of coming out each time, and that can be exhausting. So, DO ask what you can do to be supportive and follow their directions.
Happy National Coming Out Day to those who are ready. And to those who are not yet ready
I see you.
I support you.
You have value.
You deserve to happiness.
Inhale. Exhale. And begin.