With National Coming Out Day fast approaching, LGBT folks who are still in the closet might be wondering, "How can I, a closeted LGBT folk, best prepare for this once-a-year opportunity to begin a healthy new life of honesty and integrity, directed not by external shame, but by my own, inner, self-actualizing voice?"
Or something like that. ---
Actually, for gays and lesbians, coming out is more of a lengthy process than a one-day event. It's tricky, often awkward, and sometimes painful. But it is the path we take to move from a place of secrecy and fear to one of sincerity and self-respect.
This transformative experience is so important and so universal that, in the 1980s, activist-type folks in the gay and lesbian community decided to commemorate it every October 11.
So relax, closeted LGBT folks. You can come out any day of the year. And you should, as soon as possible. Believe me: It's difficult at first to establish an honest identity with friends, family and co-workers -- but once you do, life becomes much easier, happier and better, and more quickly than you think. There are scary sacrifices to be made, but in the end it is well worth it. Claiming your personal integrity is better than anything you could gain from living a life of deception.
If you're considering opening up to someone in your life, NCOD is as good a day as any. And if you're wondering about the whys and hows, the Human Rights Campaign has some handy coming-out guides available for download in handy PDF format and written by experts whose advice I should probably recommend over anything I might offer here.
Today there are more opportunities than ever for gay and lesbian Americans to live happy, successful lives. There's no good reason for anybody not to come out ... with one exception.
If you're a young person living with your parents as a dependent, you should forget all about it and just stay in the closet. It may sound harsh, but unless you are absolutely, 100-percent sure that your parents can handle being supportive of a gay son or daughter, there's too much at stake to risk.
Homophobic parents will always do their best to fuck up your life -- and they can fuck up your life in many exquisite ways. Homophobic parents have a theory that if they can inflict enough misery on you, it will magically make you "go straight." So even if you're lucky enough not to get thrown out of the house and join the hordes of messed-up, homeless gay kids on the streets of the nearest city, Mom and Dad will start playing freaky mind games in hopes of making you hate yourself.
Oh, but the family fun doesn't end there: If your parents are rich, they might even send you to a "reparative" shrink who knows even better ways of making you feel like a worthless piece of shit. If they're religious, they'll get church officials involved, who will provide you with all kinds of guilt-inducing pamphlets, videos and face-time designed to make you think God hates you.
When all the shrinks, bishops and priests fail, the homophobic parents will give up, and turn cold and distant, resorting only to occasional cutting remarks. This will come as a relief -- as long as you weren't planning on going to college. If you were, you can forget all about parental tuition support. They'll be glad to get you out of the house when you turn 18, And then, yay! Welcome to the world of the homosexual high school graduate.
No, you do not come out to those homophobic parents at all. If they hate gays, they don't deserve your honesty until you're out of the house and living independently. Do everything you can to deceive them -- have an opposite-sex friend pretend to be your romantic date. Keep a fake diary and write about how much you just love your budding heterosexuality -- homophobic parents will be sure to read it. If, for some reason, they have doubts and ask you directly if you're gay, lie to them.
While you're living at home, your life will be so much better without the 'phobes breathing down your neck -- and, when it comes time to go to college, you can move out and live on campus while they foot the bill for your tuition. And then you're home-free. You'll be far enough from home to have some freedom and develop a real romantic life.
Then, once you've graduated, established yourself in a career and become able to support yourself, living a fabulous, self-reliant life -- that is the time to come out to your parents. Let them have their homophobic meltdown on their own time. Eventually they'll learn to cope.
But you won't be around to serve as their punching bag while they deal with their issues.