Sunday, October 11, 2009

National Coming Out Day -- hooray!

Coming out the closet as a lesbian played a huge role in my life, so I celebrate National Coming Out Day today with a video, links, prayer and book except. I wrote about the process in depth in my book Hide and Speak: A Coming Out Guide, which was recently translated into Polish. I reflect on my own coming out process in the short video above. It’s my most popular video, with 2,383 views and counting. I made it for the Human Rights Campaign Fund’s video contest. This year I also submitted it to the coming-out campaign of the Equality March being held this weekend in Washington, DC. My book Hide and Speak tells positive ways to come out to yourself, create a circle of supporters and deal with family, job and school. Each chapter includes real-life examples and tested, highly effective exercises that I used in coming-out workshops nationwide. Readers will learn how to live proud, free and balanced. Here is an excerpt from Hide and Speak:
“Many people, myself included, assumed that LGBT visibility would make books like this obsolete. That day is still well in the future. The difficulties of coming out in the twenty-first century hit home for me recently when a younger relative finally told me he was gay. His big sister, a lesbian activist, had come out to the family twenty years before, but her example didn’t seem to make it any easier for her brother. “It was something I had to figure out and deal with on my own terms,” he explained to me. The newly visible LGBT community is no more appealing to him than the old stereotypes had been to me and my peers.”
I’ll close with an excerpt from a Coming-Out Liturgy by Malcolm Boyd, from the book Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations:
“Leader: Have you been forced to play a dishonest role in order to survive? Participant: I have. My family seemed often to require it, at least to desire it. At school it was necessary, and whenever I dropped my mask I was punished. The same was true of my life at work where I sought acceptance and advancement. What I had to confront made me feel confused, emotionally fatigued, and often worthless. Any kind of a relationship posed a threat and a danger. I wondered how much rejection I could stand. When I reached out for understanding or help, I usually received yet another rebuke. However, I just could not be who I'm not. It nearly killed me when I tried so hard and found it hopeless. Community: We offer you validation for yourself as you have been created and celebration of your gayness as a gift of God.”

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