Sunday, October 11th is National Coming Out Day. Hooray! Yay for the Gays!
What's so important about this anyway? After all, the day has only been around for 21 years now. And why do gay people feel a need to come out? Do we really want to know all that???
Coming Out Day is more than just waving a rainbow flag around. For some, it's being honest and accepting without hate that they are attracted to and could love a member of the same sex. For others, it's taking the risk to tell friends and family the truth. And sometimes, it's not just to do all of the above but to raise awareness too.
Why raise awareness? I mean, we all know there are gay people out there. We see them on TV and in the movies. But do you have family members who are gay? Do you know if people you work with are gay? What about friends? Do you have any gay friends? If you think you don't, are you 100% sure about that?
There are some people who are gay, but just don't shout about it. Maybe they did that in their college years when they first realized it was okay to be loud and proud. Maybe, as time went on they found it wasn't necessary to sport a rainbow sticker on their car or march in parades. They were who they were, but maybe less vocal. In some cases, maybe those people even "passed" as heterosexual because of how little they talked about their sexual orientation.
Being bisexual, it's easy to not ever say you're gay. And if you're married to a member of the opposite sex, there's almost no reason to ever say, "Hey, I like ladies too even though I'm out of the dating pool." Then if you do let on that you're bi there's the explaining and mythbusting, "No, I've never been interested in threesomes. No, I have a closed marriage. Yes, I've dated women before. No, I'm not saying this just to be trendy or seem edgy. It's who I am and who I've always been." And that's just potentially to people you don't know.
To friends you've known for years who you've never officially told, aside from dropping huge hints, there's the worry that they'll be upset that you never told them. And maybe, even despite being friends for a long time they will feel they don't want to share your company anymore.
There is still fear in coming out, especially as you get older. Instead of fearing being kicked out of your house by your parents because they don't approve of your "lifestyle," you have to fear that the late-news may cause damage to friendships. While you know your job is secure due to state laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, you fear losing casual camaraderie you've built up with co-workers and supervisors. It's the fear of coming out and trying to say, "Look, I'm still the same person you've always known, but with just another layer to consider," and being met with skepticism and distrust.
Maybe that's another facet of National Coming Out Day. That many people share these fears. That you are not alone. That you can find that inner strength to be yourself the best that you can. That it's okay, and you will be okay.
That's what I keep reminding myself. Sometimes taking a risk is okay if it means that you're just being who you are. I'm bisexual. It doesn't rule my life. It's just part of me.