Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy Belated Coming Out Day

So I was sitting at work feeling down and eating popcorn when I thought, “Monday was National Coming Out Day. I should have at least acknowledged it on my blog.” Not that I’ve acknowledged it any year previously. I don’t imagine anyone who reads my blog has the slightest issue with homosexuality, so it wasn’t as if I’m offering a public service announcement. But there have been all those recent suicides as a result of bullying and those videos about how it gets better (which I think is a good all-purpose message for high schoolers in general).

I think, on the one hand, of how much more open society is about homosexuality than when I was a teen, and on the other hand how much more pervasive and violent bullying is among kids. As the openness has increased, the nasty vitriol of the opposition has increased. I witnessed plenty of name calling and taunting in high school, but if anyone was getting beat up or lived in terror of physical harm, I didn’t know about it. Not that a constant barrage of verbal abuse doesn't work its own damage. Of course I knew gay kids. Or, rather, I knew and didn’t know, because I had my own shit to deal with first and foremost, and what other people were up to definitely took a back seat to my own drama.

My parents partook of the general cultural homophobia. So my mom was gently homophobic (“What a shame!” would be her response) and my dad more vehemently so (“They recruit kids. They do disgusting things.”). From some comments my mom made (not always the most reliable source, my mom) I gather that my dad had been pretty concerned about one of my eldest brother’s friendships. That would have been back in the 50s, so I can imagine that didn’t go well. For whatever reason, their opinions did not rub off on me. I simply did not understand why anyone would be uptight about it. It seemed such an odd point of contention. I never at any point bought the religious arguments against it. This is one of those areas where I simply cannot see the opposition’s point of view, for that point of view has wreaked such devastation. If God himself came down and told me homosexuality was wrong, I would say, “What is WRONG with YOU?” Not that I was any sort of outspoken activist as a teen – I pretty much avoided speaking about anything, much less anything controversial.

I wonder what the gay kids at my school really went through. Maybe I didn’t know the half of it. Maybe the name calling was just the littlest part of what really happened. What would I have done if I’d fallen in love with a girl then? I don’t know. Such a possibility never even occurred to me, although I wasn’t exactly okay with heterosexual relations, either. I know I definitely would not have been out and proud. It would have been one more secret, like my depression and cutting.

I work for an organization that believes homosexuality is wrong. I’ve made a sort of pact with the devil, I guess, to keep employment, telling myself that it’s just one tiny aspect of the overall picture, not their main focus. I’m used to hiding what I think, about more than just this issue. I have my own closet, I guess. There’s a confession. I’m complicit.

For anyone who doesn’t know about the Trevor Project, here is a link. It’s a suicide hotline for LGBTQ (Q for questioning) teens.

Chris Colfer for The Trevor Project - It Gets Better from The Trevor Project on Vimeo.


  1. I grew up knowing gay folk and never really thought much about it. My mom was off the scale on the liberal end. My early years were spent in the dance world and then in interior design - both filled with folks who are gay. So, it's just normal for me. I really do not understand the hostility - except from a place of deep fear within those who are mean. And why? Like it's contagious? really...silly. I work for a church that is trying to be accepting and welcoming. It's tough, the pushback I hear...Anyway, I concur with what you write here.

  2. Thanks for your NCOD blog entry. Thanks for being a "straight ally," as they're called. In the long run, it will the the straight allies that ultimately create a LGBT-accepting society no matter how hard the LGBTs fight. ... I once worked for a company that took work from the cigarette industry. I voiced my opinion that I wasn't happy about it. My boss just looked at me with glazed-over eyes. Maybe next National Coming Out Day you can come out at work as a straight ally. Maybe others will join you. I know it's too much to think that that would make a difference in the organization's beliefs, but if I were your coworker and a closeted gay, or questioning person, or the parent of an LBGT kid, it sure would make a big difference to me. ... P.S. I'm still not completely out myself. There's my confession. I'm complicit, too.

  3. I'd like to think we live in more liberal times but there seems to be a worrying trend towards not only homophobia but racism as well - not to mention discrimination towards any groups that are seen to be outside of the normal (whatever normal is). Some would argue it is the fearful times we live in - I wonder. Anyway, thanks for a thought provoking post.

  4. Thank you for posting about this. I only heard of the Trevor Project tonight from my daughter's partner.

  5. You said "If God himself came down and told me homosexuality was wrong, I would say, “What is WRONG with YOU?”

    I say, AMEN to that!! *smiles* I never could understand why people have such a big issue with homosexuality, either. Exactly whom are gay people hurting when they engage in sex with those of the same gender? I can't really figure that out.

    Anyway, I know it must be AWFULLY hard for you to work for a company that believes homosexuality is wrong. I'm not sure I could do that--although if I needed the money--well, that's a different story, I guess. I'm not sure. Hmmmm....

    I work for an organization that is extremely gay-friendly, and I thank God for that every day. Some of my best friends at work and outside of work are gay, and I'm happy to be a big ole' "hag." :)

    P.S. Just added you to my blog links--sorry it took so damn long!! :)