It has been a while since I've really felt left out because I didn't think I could participate in what the other kids are doing. National Coming Out Day has made me feel that way. As an older heterosexual white cis-male there seems to be little to come out about. I really want to support and participate though. I live in an area where a cult controls the narrative of what you should do and think. They have spoken against anything but heterosexual monogamous marriages to the point that suicide of LGBTQ+ youth is the most common danger to these youngsters. It has reached crisis proportions here. Those were my students, and I haven't been out of the classroom long enough that the current danger is to those that have never been my student. They could be former students, former students younger brothers and sisters, or just people with very promising futures that just happen to love different people than the society around them here will accept.
About 15 years ago a school in this area fired their volleyball coach, basically for living in a same-sex relationship with her partner. It went through the courts and she was reinstated as coach. At lunch with some of the other faculty our coach was complaining she felt really uncomfortable with this other coach being at the previous night's game, even though she was on the other bench, and they really didn't need to interact with each other. I made the statement she didn't seem to be uncomfortable around me and I'm a lesbian. I don't think the coach heard me but an art teacher that I counted as a friend did, she is my wife's cousin's daughter-in-law so there is also a family tie there. You could see the wheels turning in her head as her expressions gave away she was trying to figure out how to explain to me that I obviously didn't understand what the discussion was about. I then added, "I'm just stuck in a man's body."
I don't mean to belittle what people go through in our society when they have something others feel makes them different from what is acceptable. I was trying to use some poor humor to point out how we need to leave thinking similar to our coach's behind. In this case the rumor mill at the school did a good thing as the comment made it through the student body and faculty by the end of the day. One of my students, who was lesbian, and out about it, came and asked me if I said that. When I admitted I had, she said something to effect of not having heard being straight described better and she now understands some people around her better. She could have gotten upset but instead chose to use it as a chance to understand something better.
Today's society has so many different points of view, but one being put forward by people that are very loud is that sex shouldn't be enjoyed, it is to reproduce and nothing more. Well, science has shown that sex, whether it results in pregnancy or not, has some very good effects on our bodies, and our relationships. There is nothing scientifically wrong with same gender sex, or older people beyond child bearing years having sex, or what some term as recreational sex. I'm coming out as being sex-positive.
Some are saying, "Michael, look at the title of your site. We already know you are sex-positive." Let me talk about another coming out I went through some years ago then. I am a religion survivor. I chose to leave the religion I was raised in. To be honest, my family was more on the edges of the culture, but still it was all I knew. In fact, I thought many of my family were making evil choices due to what I was being taught at church those Sundays we did attend. My wife's family was very much involved. She actually decided she needed to leave before I came to that conclusion for myself. We did get involved with groups that called what we were doing with them, participating while keeping it hidden, being in the broom closet. We eventually came out of that religious closet. Interesting thing is my family is the one that will have nothing to do with us while only some of my wife's siblings treat us that way. I also had some bad experiences at my job as a result of coming out of that religion closet of having left the dominant group in our community.
I would like to honor those using this day to come out of any closet they are in. I understand the fear and possible bad results that coming out can lead to. From my experience of about a decade and a half after coming out of my particular closet, the only people that left me that it still bothers me, is family. I am probably more attached to my kids and grandson than I would be otherwise, but there is the adaptation I made. Where I look for friendship has changed, but that has been a lifetime experience. Even before coming out friendships changed and evolved. People I was friends with in high school aren't what I would consider friends now. People I counted as friends at my first school, probably never think about me today. Life is about adapting, coming out may make the amount of adapting you have to do increase for a while, but you can do it.
If my words can lend any strength to help you adapt, then I am accomplishing part of my goal. The other part would be to honor everyone's choices that don't harm others. Some of us may feel someone who is closeted should come out to better help whatever cause. It might help others more, but I doubt it is harming anyone. We need to respect their choices. They may see a harm to them we are not aware of and they don't want to share.
So here is a high five to #NationalComingOutDay