I submitted a letter to the editor to my local newspaper, The Visalia Times Delta. They declined to print it, so I posted to their website’s blog section. Here’s what I wrote:
“Gay brothers and sisters… You must come out.” - Harvey Milk
October 11 is National Coming Out Day, where LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) Americans are urged to step out from the shadows, and be out to those around them. They are encouraged to stop hiding their truth, to embrace their truth, and to tell their truth. When each of us is open and honest about who we are, we make it harder for our loved ones, our friends, and our associates to believe the lies and distortions.
They hear terrible stories told about “the homosexual agenda”, the preposterous falsehoods about “recruiting” children, and the lies about what particular legislation will require. But if someone they know, someone they respect, or someone they love, is LGBT, they’ll find it increasingly difficult to believe those lies. They’ll know them to be lies, because they’ll know you’d not be involved in such things. They’ll know LGBT people are good people, because you’re a good person. They’ll know that discrimination is wrong, because they won’t want you to be discriminated against. They’ll know your love is real, because they’ll see you in love, and nobody will be able to deny that reality.
Staying in the closet is not the “safe” thing to do. By being in the closet, you’re locking yourself away from the world. You can’t be your best, because you’re constantly afraid somebody will realize the truth. You will miss wonderful things, because you’re worried about that closet door suddenly being thrown open. You’ll draw so far back into that closet that you might, for a while, even convince yourself that you’re not in one. So far back, you can’t even see the door anymore. But it’s there. And the real world, the beautiful world, the loving world, is on the other side.
It can be difficult to break that door down and step out, but it’s incredibly freeing once you have. The burden you’ve placed on yourself is gone, the freedom you’ll feel is wonderful, and the person you’ll become when you’re living a honest life may surprise you.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it’s all roses and sweetness. Some people, even loved ones, may resist, or even reject you. It can be hard. A close friend of mine, the one I thought would be the quickest to adjust to the truth, couldn’t have a gay friend. Once I came out to him, the friendship of a decade ended. But sometimes the ones whose reactions you fear the most may surprise you. Another close friend of mine, a Christian minister, took it all in stride. We’ve been friends since we were 12, and when I came out to him, our friendship continued as if I had merely told him I didn’t like broccoli. You just never know, but the risk is worth it. Give your friends and loved ones the chance to surprise and impress you.
We’re often accused of “recruiting”. Well, I’m recruiting you now: Step out of that closet and join us in the real world. We’re waiting for you, and we’ll save you a place at the most fabulous party ever.
Use October 11 to begin a dialog. Tell someone you trust that you are gay. The most likely response may be “yeah, I’ve know that for a long time”.
Jim Reeves, Jr.