Today has been designated as National Coming Out Day. In fact, it’s the 29th annual NCOD.
Well, 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of my coming out to my family. They took it well; we now joke that Mom turned to Dad and said “Ha! You owe me five bucks.”
But every day is a coming out in some small way for me even though I know my co-workers and friends and even people who don’t know me but who read my blog, my plays, or my Facebook page know I’m gay. (If you didn’t already know, well, hey, guess what…) I don’t make a big deal out of it; I don’t have a rainbow sticker on my car, I don’t announce it to people when I meet them, and I don’t think I fit into the cultural stereotypes that seem to be a part of our society’s identifiers as gay; for instance, I usually buy my clothes at the next aisle over from auto parts, and the only reason I know show tunes is because I’m a theatre scholar; it comes with the job. Cultural stereotypes work if you own them. As one of my characters in my novel “Small Town Boys” says when someone finds out he’s gay: “Yeah, I know.”
I am still getting used to being out in some way or another. I have unfriended people I’ve known all my life who said they were sad to hear I am gay, and I am sure there are people who say things and call me names behind my back. Well, they would probably do it if I wasn’t gay; people who find nits to pick are looking for them.
What I hope for with this day is that people who are afraid of coming out will take some comfort and assurance by seeing others say it. It may not prompt them to come out; each of us must do it in our own way and at our own level, but even if they never do they may know that they are never alone. We’re a tribe and we support each other even when we don’t know you because we really do.