A Celebration, Not a Secret: Coming Out and LGBTQ Rights

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by Rae Long

On Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, National Coming Out Day commemorated the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place in October of 1979 and again in 1987.  This day of remembrance and celebration serves to remind us all that coming out still matters for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community.

As a heterosexual female, I hope to provide support for those around me who are LGBTQ, knowing that coming out is a very important and scary process.  A person who comes out deserves to have a safety net to fall onto. Furthermore, several articles suggest that those who know someone who has come out may be more likely to support laws promoting equality.  Think about this: your sister comes out as a lesbian.  Do you disown her, or, deep down, do you hope that she is happy and would do everything in your power to make that happen? My guess is that you would lean more towards the latter.

Right here in Springfield, you can be discriminated against in a workplace for being LGBTQ; the Springfield Human Rights Code does not protect the LGBTQ community.  Citizens are afraid to come out because they will be denied their basic human rights. Now, if this was happening to humans for being religious or female, you can bet that they would be loud about getting their human rights! The LGBTQ community is not being quiet, and I think we all need to help them be louder.

I read a post on YikYak the other day—from our own Springfield community—that said something like, “The gays are the loudest 1% of the population I have ever heard, I wish they would just shut up already.” I won’t go into the huge rant I said to my roommate, but no population who has been oppressed and denied human rights has ever been quiet about getting those rights. They would still not have those rights today if they had been.

Several LGBTQ members that I have spoken to mention being scared to come out.  Some have known all of their lives that they are not “normal,” and may think that everything will fall apart if they do.  They may fear being rejected or bullied, or even scared that those around them will not believe or understand them.  These fears, unfortunately, are not unwarranted.  These fears have led to many suicides, and many more attempted suicides.  These fears too often lead to a life of misery.

Coming out should not be scary. It should not lead to death and depression. It should not result in the loss of a job, or any sort of workplace discrimination.  Coming out should be a beautiful process, embraced with love and support.  It should make everyone involved feel a little happier and a little lighter.

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