Today is National Coming Out Day

Coming out takes guts. Never underestimate the courage of a teenager who defies the world and the pressure of his or her society, who looks you in the face and tells you who they really are. It takes guts, believe me. I come from an era of rampant homophobia, from a time when gay men and lesbians were the subject of ridicule at all times and in all places. We faced this alone, all of us. There was no one to guide us, help us, to offer any encouragement. There were no books and no TV shows, no teachers and no celebrities. And above all there were no role models, none to look up to, none to emulate. If I had once, just once, heard another human being say “Yes, I am gay, and I am proud and happy,” oh, what a joy that would have been, what drops of water on the arid desert of loneliness and shame. I read a book once, a wonderful eye opening book, called ‘Setting Them Straight’ by the late Betty Berzon. It is a manifesto for self-liberation, breaking the chains of oppression with relentless honesty. The writer argues that each time we come out we change the world. Think about that power, the power to open the eyes of a person who has never knowingly met a gay person, the power to throw an emotional lifeline to person who is struggling to come to terms with who they are. The power to offend a bigot, and the power to normalize what remains strange to some. The power to be ourselves, the power to stand our ground, the power to live our lives the way our natures intended us to. Coming out sets us free. Coming out is a service to others, to those who need us to be there for them. Coming out is our best weapon, thousands, millions of little hammer blows to the curse of homophobia. We can come out hundreds of times a day if we wish, to the sales agent who assumes the gender of our partners, to the students in our classes, and the fellow passengers who share our journeys. Come out today, if it is safe for you to do so. Change your world. Change it for others. (Betty’s book) (The painting featured here)


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