I’m lucky I’m living in a world where there’s Gay Pride and a National Coming Out Day! That was instigated by a Human Rights Campaign group in America.
The history of the day goes back to 1987 when half a million-people participated in the march on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights and each year there is a different theme but at the heart of it appears to be encouragement for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people to feel happy and safe about living their lives openly.
Now it seems that other countries have adopted the idea, a bit like Halloween, an American custom has crept across the Atlantic. It is now celebrated in Switzerland, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK.
Of course, the premise of the day is laudable. I have always been a supporter of Gay Pride and any event that brings issues for the LGBT community to a wider audience. However, I am not sure that what impact a National Coming Out Day might have.
People come out or don’t come out for so many different reasons. One must be careful not to judge. I have known people who are scared to come out because their family has strong religious beliefs and they suspect strongly that they would be rejected by their relatives.
Many fear the consequences of being open about their sexuality. I have read about teachers (mainly women) who fear the homophobia they may experience, not, I hasten to add, from the children that they teach, but from the parents who have some strange idea that having a gay teacher may influence the sexuality of their child. As far as I know my teachers were mostly straight and they didn’t influence my sexuality it any way whatsoever.
I don’t think I have ever been surprised when someone has told me they are gay. Nine times out of 10 I quietly say to myself, “yes I thought you probably were and so did everyone else”. The challenge is for people to accept themselves for who they are and to be proud of it.
So, do we need a National Coming Out Day as well as Gay Pride? Well in the sense that it celebrates diversity perhaps we do but I would rather that we tackle the larger issue of homophobia. I would never put pressure on someone to come out, it is their personal and private decision but I would be lying if I said that their reluctance didn’t hurt me. It is hard to deal with someone’s shame for being exactly like me.
As for choosing a day to come out? I’m not sure. It could also be Sausage Pizza Day, International Day of the Girl and World Egg Day…so many days to deal with I think I may just come out as an egg.