It was National Coming Out Day this week and every year I post something on my personal Facebook page.
It is important that when we think of LGBTQ2S+ that real people come to mind. Knowing someone personally helps because the hateful conditioning, stereotypes and fear mongering don’t match up with the real people we know.
During the early years of the AIDS epidemic, many more people were in the closet because we could be fired from our jobs, and ostracized by family and former friends. Gay bashing was common and many died. The families of many men who contracted HIV found out that their son/brother/father/uncle were gay at the same time they found out their loved one had AIDS and was dying.
Do you remember being shocked learning that Rock Hudson was a gay man and was included in the Names Project? One thing about facing a life and death situation is that it clarifies our priorities. We’ve had enough of hiding. We take the risk of saying “this is who I am”.
There are many hidden costs of invisibility and hiding. When I was a teen in a small prairie town, I literally had never heard the word lesbian. I had no idea what to do with the feelings I had and I suppressed them so thoroughly I didn’t know I was a lesbian until my mid twenties. Many people married and had families then came out in their forties and fifties when they could no longer live a lie. Many more were depressed or addicted. Hiding affects everyone around us.
The theme this week in our Sunday class is Standing Tall and Strong. I’ve been reflecting on the question of what we can do with our increased strength and resilience? The benefits of healing from past trauma and fears are personal and intimate and valid on their own. And the effects ripple out to others.
By living with more courage and authenticity, we inspire others in our families and friend circles. It becomes safer for everyone to express themselves authentically. It might be something big like coming out. It might be the compassion we bring when someone is crying or the genuine interest we have in getting to know them.
My son and niece both shared my Facebook post and my heart is taking in their words. Dustin reflected that it was “interesting…