So, October 11th is National Coming Out Day
, for those who might not know. I’m posting this now so folks can see it, since, well, Sunday is a game-day, and I’ve got stuff to do...
I’ve already covered my favorite “coming out” story
on LJ. So I figured I would say a few words about questions like “Why a National Coming Out Day? Why is being ‘out’ so important?” After all, isn’t sexual orientation a private matter? Are queer people “flaunting” our “lifestyle” by “putting in the town square what belongs in the privacy of the bedroom?” Am I going to “stop” using “quotes” any time soon? (Not likely...)
It’s difficult to explain the concept of being out to somebody who has never had to hide their sexual orientation, to hide a major part of who they are
, out of fear of rejection, condemnation, or even violence. A recent example:
When discussing the question of inclusiveness in RPGs and related settings, someone inevitably says something like: “Well, it’s just a non-issue in my games, because sexuality and sexual matters never come up.”
To which I respond: “Really? Never?
The characters in your stories have no parents or families? There are no weddings, engagements, or romances? No stories based around lovers: star-crossed, spurned, or otherwise? No couples, married or not? No love-triangles? No love
, even if it’s just told in the legend about why the treasure-filled dungeon is there?”
Although they call it “sexual orientation” and “homosexuality” it is about so much more than just sex. It is about attraction, flirtation, romance, partnership, and, most importantly the very nature of the relationships with the most important people in your life. It’s about life
. Our lives.
Imagine never being able to talk about your significant other in anything other than the most bland, sanitized platonic terms. Not just your current romantic- or life-partner(s), but any previous ones you’ve had, too. Imagine not being able to openly mention finding someone attractive, even in passing, or talking about your friends, for fear of exposing the truth about them, too. Imagine the family gatherings where you’re asked “So, when are you going to find someone and settle down?” and you want to say “But I have been for years now, we’re building a life together,” but you can’t. If you can imagine that, then you’re touching just the outer edge of why I treasure the ability to be open about such things, and why I refuse to stop being open about them.
I was born just days after queer people in New York City rioted
, having finally had enough of police harassment and brutality. When I was taking my first breaths, being gay was illegal in nearly every part of the country, and there was no such thing as “gay rights”. Things have changed more in my lifetime than I had expected, but not nearly so much as I have hoped. The greatest force for change in how we are treated is not a PAC or political action group or lobby. It is the willingness, the courage, of ordinary people to be out, to take a chance, to defy the fear, and rejection, and even the violence and be seen and heard, because it’s easy to malign and oppress “those people” when you think you don’t know any, and a different matter when you realize that you do. If you’re reading this, you do.
Happy Coming Out Day, everybody.