“I’ve been out for years, so how am I supposed to participate in National Coming Out Day?” asked one of my gay friends. My reply: “Thank your straight friends.”
No, really. Thank your straight friends.
One of the great things about National Coming Out Day is that it sets aside a day for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender to publicly affirm their sexuality. It’s a day of celebration and cathartic release for these individuals. However, the individuals who celebrate are mostly LGBT individuals who have recently come out or who are in the process of coming out. Other LGBT individuals may feel differently about this holiday. In my experience, I have encountered lesbian women and gay men who brush this holiday off because 1) they are already out, and 2) they don’t feel the need to reaffirm their sexuality. Although there is really no changing how gay man and women feel about issue, National Coming Out Day should be more than just affirming your sexual identity. Specifically, Coming Out Day should also be a day where we show our sincerest gratitude and appreciation for those who supported us and accepted us from the very beginning: our straight friends.
Taking a step back from my usual blog posts, I want to emphasize the important role that gay-supportive men and women (a.k.a. allies) have played in helping young gay men and lesbian women make their transition. Without the unconditional, loving support from our straight friends, there would probably not be a National Coming Out Day. At least in my personal experience, my straight friends were my foundation when I was coming out. I hardly knew any gay people at the time, so I had to rely solely on the support of my straight friends. Reflecting back 5 years ago (seems like only yesterday), not only did my straight friends accept me for who I was, they also provided me with a sense of belonging. That is, even though I thought the words, “I am gay”, automatically isolated me and made me different, they reassured me that nothing had changed. I was still their friend, and I was still Eric. These simple actions taken by my straight friends made all the difference, and their support has ultimately shaped who I have become today. To me, that is definitely worth celebrating.
Therefore, in honor of today, I say will say this: Celebrate your sexual identity, but also celebrate the straight friends that have supported you.