Coming out day

So, since 1988 October 11th has been National Coming Out Day.  This is a day to celebrate who you are by being honest about it.  It is a day to become more authentically you, a day to show off the beauty that God created in you.

What is "coming out"?  To me, it means much more than just announcing a non-heterosexual orientation. There have been many things in my life that I have kept hidden from the people around me out of fear.  And, no, I'm not talking about just simple secrets.  I'm talking about characteristics of yourself that you cannot or do not want to change.  I used to pretend that I was straight because that is what my church wanted me to do, and what I believed my God, my family, and my friends wanted as well.  While many LGBT people have expressed that this feels quite repressive, for me it wasn't.  It was more like eating American ramen noodles my whole life and then finally going to Japan and having a bowl of real Japanese ramen noodle soup.  I enjoyed the ramen I had as a kid because I didn't know any better.  But Japanese ramen is so much better than the instant ramen we have here in America.  It's full of flavor and has meat and veggies in it, it's wonderful.  That's how it felt for me when I came out.

Why do we keep secrets from people?  I believe that the most common reason is fear.  As a teenager, you might sneak out of the house at night to go hang out with some friends--maybe vandalize something, pull a prank, or just make out with your boyfriend/girlfriend.  Obviously you want to keep this secret from your parents out of fear that they will discipline you for your misbehavior.  But, sometimes the secret you're keeping isn't in itself a bad thing, but you fear how people might react if they knew.  Maybe you have over-protective parents and they don't want you to date someone seriously until you're out of high school.  Having a boyfriend/girlfriend isn't necessarily bad, but you don't want your parents to know because they don't want you to have one.  Maybe you're a nerd but you don't want your friends to know because you want to be perceived as "cool", and to fit in with your friends you can't be nerdy.  Being a nerd isn't bad, but you just don't want your friends to know that you are one.

So, I say, let the cat out of the bag.  Open up your closet and display your skeletons in there for all the world to see.  Be proud of who you are.  If you believe in God, then believe that God made you the way you are and wouldn't want you to be any other way.  If you drool when you hear the new tech specs of the latest AMD processor that's come out, let people know you're an über-nerd.  If your body wants to express itself when you hear that irresistible beat, then dance to that music, let people laugh if they want to.  Show off who you are.  Apply for that lead role in Peter Pan or Newsies.  Join the school choir.  Be in a talent show.  People who will mock you for showing your true colors are simply expressing their own fears of showing who they are inside.  Maybe you can help them overcome their fears and be authentic too.

I have to say that coming out of the closet has been one of the best choices I have made in my entire life.  I feel free to express myself, free to show who I am.  I let other people make the decision to accept me for who I am or to turn away from me.  I no longer try to make that choice for other people by showing them what I think they want to see.  Now the decision is in their hands because I'm going to be me and they can decide for themselves whether they want to like me.  I would encourage anyone to come out.  Share who you are with those that you love.  Those who love you will still love you.  They may react in ways that make it hard for you to feel their love, but it doesn't mean that they don't love you anymore.  It only means that they need to work through all the new information for a while.  Remember, love conquers hate.