Come Out, Come Out Whoever You Are

By John DuBois

With apologies to Glinda, I only changed one word to make a point. I’m sure she won’t mind because she’s an ally who supports equality and justice for all, gay, straight, or otherwise.

Whereas Glinda had asked the little Munchkins to come out of hiding, I ask that all future LGBT folk come out, too. Not from hiding in the bushes like the Munchkins were, but hiding from their true selves — or even from themselves.

Today more non-LGBT allies are championing us and lighting the way (thank you Lady Gaga) and we have more opportunity to express ourselves than in other times and places.

Which reminds me, a while back the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was asked how gay people in his country were treated. His response? “There are no gay people in Iran.” To which I retorted (yelling at the TV), “Yeah, as soon as they come out, they’ll either be arrested or killed!”

In the good ol’ U.S. gays are not threatened with execution, but we may be bashed, bullied and lashed with barbed tongues yelling “Faggot!” The original meaning of faggot was a stick of tinder used to light a fire, which conjures images of kindling for a good witch burning. (The term may actually have come from old women who were once called faggots from their job of gathering wood which later translated, oh so graciously, to the effeminate stereotype of gay men.)

Funny how old, fearful sensibilities hold on. We are still fighting to break “codes” and “ranking” systems along with the notion that sex is only for procreation and not something to be shared and enjoyed… or even discussed.

If people are taught to fear gays (or ethnic minorities or anyone else) they will most likely hate. Period.

No wonder so many still fear coming out of the closet.

But even if we don’t come out we will still be harmed. Psychologist, Carl Rogers, tells us that the further our real self strays from our ideal self the more anxiety we will feel. This gap also lowers self-esteem and inspires jealousy of those who lead authentic lives. No wonder closeted gays are so often huge homophobes. That gap between real and ideal may then lead to aggression or even violence against ourselves or others. And who wants that?

Staying in the closet keeps us shameful and keeps us feeling we have something to hide.

By bringing our ideals closer to reality we can become more content and happier from living in a state of harmony.

And so I say to one and all, come out into the clear light of day and be proud of who you are.

This was written by one of my students, who gave permission to post it.

October is LGBT Month.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on October 5, 2012, in feminism, LGBTQ, psychology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Awesome post! Please tell your student I thoroughly enjoyed this.

  2. Reblogged this on humanitysdarkerside and commented:
    Nothing to do with books, but an important message.

  3. This is a great piece. I wish more people felt comfortable coming out to their family and friends, but I can understand why some don’t in the landscape of intolerance that still exists in our country. Not only is there a risk of being “bashed, bullied and lashed with barbed tongues,” but LGBTQ individuals are not treated as equals under the law. They do not have the right to marry in all states nor do they have the right to work a job without fear of being fired because of their private lives (Title VII doesn’t include “sexual orientation” as a protected characteristic, but sometimes successful arguments can be made under “sex” if the discrimination was due to gender stereotypes). Yesterday, one of the Google searches that led someone to my blog was “how to read gay novel without mom knowing.” I can’t be certain that this young person is gay (or even young), but whoever they are, they are afraid of their mother because of intolerance. It made me so sad to see it, and I hope we’ll come to place in our society where kids no longer have to worry about hiding who they are. I am optimistic that it will happen soon. Attitudes are changing and the laws will change, too.

  4. Since the moment we are born, we are being taught about liking the opposite sex. Parents encourage their kids and implement what one should be attracted to since early childhood; being heterosexual. But if we didn’t have this “stereotype” that girls should like boys and vice versa, and are left on our own, we would all go for our own preference, without having the thought of what society finds acceptable. One shouldn’t have to hide their sexual orientation because of society’s acceptance, which is sad that people today still do. The fact that we have more artist that are willing to put themselves out there(as mentioned, Lady Gaga) and speak up for the gay community regardless of what society may think of them, has really brought up a new side of acceptance within the gay community and individuals are now leaving liberated, uncaged, or like some people call it, out of the closet. We should ask ourselves, what makes us so different/better from one another that we have the right to look down on another individual based on their sexual orientation? how does that make us a better person when we are damaging someone’s self-esteem!

  5. I am all for this post! One of my first close friends in middle school is transgendered and three of my closest friends now are gay. That being said, I have no problem with the gay community and seem to attract them ;) . I know students who have had problems coming out to their family or friends, but there are also those who feel completely ok with it. Coming out is a very personal experience and differs with everyone depending on how they were raised. My comfort with the gay community has also rubbed off on my parents. They were never homophobic or anything, but their acceptance vs. my grandparents’ is huge. Using my experience as an example, I know first hand how others react to gays and how quickly minds can be changed by showing acceptance and love for all!

  6. Thanks to the recently approved ban on conversion/reparative therapy (which takes effect January 1st), homosexual and transgendered youths in California will have one less reason to deny their sexual/gender identity. Hopefully other progressive states will soon follow suit, opening the door for our LGBTQ teens to feel a little safer to come out to their families during this already challenging age.

  7. Reading this article I agree with a lot of what they are saying. I think when you aren’t being true to who you really are you are kind of hurting yourself more. And now a days people are a lot more accepting of lgbt as they were a while ago so it couldnt be a better time. There is some who still critize and reject of the idea but there will always be people like that who will find anything to “hate on.” So I would say forget them and do what you feel is right.

  8. It is interesting to have read this piece because I have a friend who got a divorce a couple of years back. He would tell me that whenever he and his ex-wife would argue, she would sometimes slip in a comment like “well maybe I should just leave you and turn lesbian. . . is that what you want?” Interestingly enough after they got divorced he started to notice that his ex-wife was starting to hang out with women and being a little more than just friends with them. It later turned out that she identified with being lesbian. He felt that maybe the underlying cause of their problems thoughout their marriage was that she was in the closet. After seeing how trully confident she was with herself as a lesbian, he couldn’t help but feel happy for her. He did express to me that it was unfortunate that she had not been true to herself for almost 20 years and that maybe that’s why there was so many fights.

  9. Personally I think women and men should be together to reproduce. And if God would have wanted the same sex to be together he would have made it that way. ( just my opinion) however ,I do not hate gay people. One of my closest friends called me on the phone one and told me that she was a lesbian. She didn’t want to tell me because she seen how I would act around those types people. This made me realize that because on my actions I didn’t let her be herself. All I could do was apologize because to me it did not mater who she wanted to be with she was still my friend. I agree with this article because I believe that gay people are just regular people and it is important that we can accept people for who they are. This is what makes people have to conform in to something that society wants them to be.

    • Thanks.

      Re “Personally I think women and men should be together to reproduce. And if God would have wanted the same sex to be together he would have made it that way.”

      There’s evidence that it’s biological, so maybe God does want it that way.

  10. I think this a great piece, I believe everyone should come out at some point because it will make them happier in life but when that happiness is reached varies .More commonly then not, when we do come out the support of our family isn’t there. of course you can have a strong back-up support of friends who understand your situation, but at a time like that we often need our family most. Personally speaking, when I came out to my parents my mother and my whole dynamic changed. She didn’t see me the same anymore and she most definitely didn’t treat me the same way. So while I was happy that I was out, It hurt me that my own mother didn’t want anything to do with me. So I don’t necessarily think its that we are taught to fear gays as the main reason for why we don’t come out especially now when we live in a society with the lady gaga’s and we now are working towards equal rights, but because the most important people in your life may not be there for you and that’s scary.

  11. I really like this article and wish more people would realize that forcing to people to be someone that they are not only causes more harm than good. Gay people should have the same right as everyone else after all they are human. It’s the same thing as telling a straight man they can’t marry the women he chooses to. I believe people are born gay. People who use religion as an excuse say things like “god hates gays” and they say being gay is a sin, but it’s also a sin to have sex before marriage and a sin to commit suicide. If we take away gay rights to marry, not only will they still be gay but they will have sex outside of marriage and that is what people who are anti-gay marriage are promoting. It is the saddest thing when you hear about people taking their own life because they cant be who they are and because they are shamed into believing that there is something wrong with them and are not accepted. Just imagine, that’s someone’s child, niece, nephew, or grandchild. It would hurt me if my child was gay not because I would not accept them or of their sexuality but because I would be afraid of what pain my child will face when others try shame them into believing that they have a mental illness and that they should not marry who they wish. It is disturbing how cruel people can be and hear about things that they say to others.

    If it’s not killing anyone to be let people be who they are than let them be instead of criticizing who the are and forcing them to taking their own life because they can no longer stand the bullying or because they start to hate themselves. No one is as holly as Jesus and only god can judge.

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