How are you doing today? How’s life? I hope you’re taking care of yourself and filling your time with things that bring you joy. You were just on my mind this morning, and I wanted to take a moment to check in and say ‘hello.’
As you might have heard, today is National Coming Out Day. It’s a holiday of sorts, founded in 1988 to honor the anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The idea is to erase shame and stigma and to let the rest of society know that we’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going anywhere.
It’s actually one of my favorite days of the year. In fact, last October I dyed my hair purple for the occasion. And today I’m covered in glitter and wearing three different articles of rainbow-colored clothing (my gay apparel, if you will). This is a day that makes my little heart grow three sizes bigger and makes my chest swell with more pride than any parade has ever inspired. Coming Out Day makes me overjoyed to be who I am: a tiny, dapper lady who loves Jesus and likes girls.
But wow, I definitely did not feel that way two or three years ago, and I imagine that you probably don’t feel that way today. I get it. In my not-at-all distant past, nothing filled me with more intense horror than the idea of coming out. The very mention of this supposed pinnacle of the queer experience made me physically ill with anxiety. Because no matter what your situation is, coming out is a vulnerable, intimate, and absolutely terrifying thing to do. Which is why you’re probably going to see a lot of people online today talking about what a beautiful and awesome and wonderfully brave act it is.
And they’re not wrong. Coming out is a brave thing to do. It’s personal and it’s political and it’s radical and it takes a whole lot of guts.
But do you know what else takes a lot of guts? Being closeted and waking up every morning. Being closeted and going to school. Being closeted and eating dinner with your family. Being closeted and going to church. Being closeted and living your life and taking care of yourself and learning and growing and loving people to the best of your ability. Existing as a queer person in the closet takes a LOT of guts.
I just wanted to make sure you know that. I wanted to tell you that I haven’t forgotten about you. I see you. I’m on your side. Lots of people are. And we think that you are so damn brave.
I don’t know what it is that’s keeping you in the closet. I don’t know if it’s out of choice or necessity. I’m not going to pretend to fully to understand your situation. But I am going to tell you that whatever your reason is, it’s a valid one. And that’s because coming out is not something you owe to anyone but yourself. It is not something you do for your family or friends, nor is it something that you must do in order to earn your Queer Card. You don’t have to come out today. You don’t have to come out next year. You don’t have to come out at all if it doesn’t feel safe and good and right.
Because your “outness” does not determine your worth or your identity. It does not make you any more or less a part of my family, and it most certainly does not affect your status as a Child of God. Coming out, though a brave and beautiful choice, is not a prerequisite for being a whole human being who deserves dignity, respect, and peace.
Please remember that. Stay safe and take care of yourself today. If that means coming out, then know that there is a whole community of people ready to drape you in a rainbow flag and shower you with glitter. But if it means hanging out in the closet a little while longer, that is ok. You are ok. Things will be ok. Listen, I know it’s an obnoxious cliche that probably doesn’t help one bit right now, but I promise you, it gets better. There are people rooting for you and working hard to make this world a kinder place for you eventually step into if you ever decide to crack open that closet door.
One step at a time, my friend. Just try to breathe deeply and find a little bit of joy today. And remember that no one else has the authority to define that joy for you.