I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
Coincidence That National Coming Out Day Falls On Canadian Thanksgiving? I Think Not!
Coming Out Continues To Matter
I remember when a young man I'd known for a number of years approached me in his Grade 12 year wanting to discuss something with me. I'd known him since he was a young boy, as we trained together at the same karate school, and we'd come to know each other quite well as a result. We got to see each other quite frequently at high school as well, as he was a student at the same school I taught at. We'd always got on quite well, so he asked to speak with me when we'd meet at the karate school later that night.
In short, the young man told me in serious tones that he was gay. I wasn't shocked; not that I'd expected him to make such a revelation to me, but there was nothing else that I could think of that would inspire him to want to have such a serious conversation with me, and so I absorbed what he'd said quietly and then asked him after all the time we'd known each other, which was pretty darn close to ten years at that point, what he figured might change between us. He sort of smiled at me and seemed instantly relieved, as he knew that as far as I was concerned, nothing would change between the two of us.
Coming out still matters, and for so many, it still can cause devastating pain and heartache. Not everyone is as accepting of the LGBTQ+ community as one might expect when we're in the 21st century; there are still families that get torn apart with the revelation that a loved one is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and that is wrong. I've always told my children - two girls, who are now almost 16 and 11 and a half - that I didn't give a rip if they came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. What mattered to me was that they were good people and if they felt they were part of the LGBTQ spectrum, I didn't care. If they brought home a partner, all I wanted for them was that the partner treated them well and like the rock stars I felt they were. That said, if they ever felt that they were part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum and wanted to come out to me, nothing would change. These are my children and I will love them through any situation because they're my children and I would not change them for anything.
Anyone who chose me to be that person who they come out to has done so because they've carefully considered who they want to reveal that information to. They need absolute support and caring - if not reassurance that they are loved and will continue to be supported through everything they might face. They need to know that as far as I'm concerned, nothing will change based how I view them as people.
Someone coming out shouldn't change how you view them as people, but because situations where people have not been supportive of those coming out have occurred in the past, coming out has frequently been an experience that can be very emotionally charged for everyone involved. However, coming out still matters. People who choose to come out to you need to feel supported; they're coming to you because they want your continued support and continued love so that they can be their authentic selves around you.
That is probably one of the greatest gifts humanity can offer all of us - the opportunity to live as authentically as possible, with your people loving and supporting you as much as possible. Coming out is a process that needs support and should ultimately be celebrated for the challenges that it can pose. While often the first person you need to come out to is yourself - self-acceptance is incredibly vital just as a human being, never mind one that's coming out as well - those who are coming out also need to know the people in their lives still love them and will always still be there for them.
Life is hard enough - especially now during this global pandemic. Coming out shouldn't be as hard as it can be for so many. It should be celebrated for the act of embracing yourself that it is.