Saturday the 11th October 2014 is National Coming Out Day. We are huge supporters of National Coming Out Day and filmed a vlog last year sharing our coming out stories. What I notice each year is how more and more people question the need for such a day. Questions I encountered came from all types of people either curious to the motives behind the need to set yourself apart from the “social norm” or based on frustrations at the noninclusive countries that create such a need to express a positivity in homosexuality.
I’m all for discussion and I love open topics that allow us to break down barriers and educate. It’s fair to say that if you are happy to accept everything at face value, then we’d never really get anywhere in life. As long as the discussion doesn’t become a personal attack or homophobic, then I encourage people to question areas they don’t understand or find confusing. Nobody can understand the life we live if we do not open the doors and allow them some understanding.
I chose to come out and so did my wife. We’d have had a much cheaper wedding if we’d never told anyone we were gay. But joking aside, we are happy and comfortable with our sexuality that we felt confident enough to tell people that we were gay. Why was there a need to tell people we were gay? I hear some of you ask. “Why not just be”… Well, sadly there is still a lot of work to be done in regards to ignorance and acceptance of gay people. I know lots of people want to say “in this day and age we should be accepting of everyone”, but in reality this just isn’t the case.
There is still a general assumption among many people (not all) who think everyone they meet is straight. I’ve encountered people who play the “spot the gay” and feel so proud of themselves they know all about stereotypes, but LGBT people are created in all shapes and sizes and many of us break the moulds, JUST LIKE STRAIGHT people.
Each time I’ve started a new job it’s like a new mini coming out day. My wedding ring gets noticed and I get asked about my “husband” or someone asks if I have children and it’s my choice if I open up to them or not. I’m a pretty friendly person, so I like to talk about my wife and son so I usually just continue the conversation, using the correct pronouns and try to gauge if they are shocked/feeling awkward/not bothered in the slightest. Sadly I’ve had my fair share of awkward silences, shocked expressions and declarations of “I KNEW IT”. I have also had positive experiences where someone starts to talk about their brother/mother/sister who is gay and happily married. This always makes me smile as it’s usually someone quite proud to be telling someone.
Coming out is a totally personal experience, there isn’t a “NEED” it’s more of a desire to confirm your confidence in yourself and live life feeling like you’re being true to yourself. I’m always happy when I hear of a celebrity or somebody in the public eye who comes out and enjoys a positive experience as these are the moments I want people who are scared/ashamed/embarrassed to see. There is a light that shines bright and life really does get better.
If someone you know comes out to you, support them, tell them you love them, tell them they haven’t changed in your eyes. But also don’t let them feel that the process wasn’t important. It’s a brave step to take and one which should be celebrated for there is still change to come and those with a voice can help make a difference.
*Photo credit to Ikea.