A day late, but then again, every day can be National Coming Out Day.
I joke that when I came out to my parents in 1976, Mom smirked at Dad and said “You owe me five bucks.”
Yes, I had it easy; Mom and Dad’s biggest worry was that in those days being gay was tough: there were no protections against being fired or denied housing, and the idea that gay-bashing was a hate crime didn’t register. Having my family’s support made all the difference to me, and when I introduced them to Allen in 1986, he became a member of the family to the point that my grandmother included him on her birthday card list. Allen’s family was just as loving.
But my experience then — and now — is still, in some places and for a lot of people, an outlier. Despite the monumental changes that have occurred for the LGBTQ+ community in my lifetime — indeed, in the last decade — there is still a way to go, as there always is in progress. Yes, we can marry; yes, discrimination is being outlawed by some localities and even a place where I once worked that pointedly told me they would never knowingly hire a gay person now embraces the rainbow. I can openly talk about my life with Allen and not have to watch my pronouns, and anyone who knows my playwriting knows what I write about. They’re not “gay” plays; they’re plays with gay people in them. There’s the difference.
So National Coming Out Day is not about me as much as it is about those who see the world from in the closet, be they young (I knew when I was eight) or older and coming to terms with it and how it will change their life and the lives of those they care about.
No one should come out who isn’t ready. But if they choose to, then I hope they find it as welcoming as I did. We’re all Friends.