Now I know not everyone who is Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual or Transgender or Questioning can stand up Today and say that.
I'm Gay. And Out. And Proud!
But I hope we can all stand up and say that we're working towards that day, when GLBTQ people have full equality, and the homophobia we still see in our society* is an odd cultural relic, like looking back on laws that prevented couples like Heidi Klum and Seal from getting married.
*I was struck by yesterday's speech by Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for Governor of New York, who said:
"I just think my children and your children would be better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't."
What I find astonishing is Mr. Paladino's complete lack of understanding of the dynamics of not just being queer, but of being human. There is no CHOICE in whom you're attracted to. That's hard-wired. Everyone above the age of puberty should know that - you're attracted to whom you're attracted to. And you can suppress it. You can lie about it. You can try to ignore it. But that's how you are built.
There IS a choice in whether or not you're going to be honest about who you're attracted to. Whether you're going to live your life honestly, openly. Whether you're going to be open to experiencing true love and passion. Whether you're going to allow yourself to become the best and most authentic YOU you can be.
So it's not about "brainwashing" kids to let them think that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It's about letting kids know that honestly being themselves, if they are Gay, or Lesbian, or Bisexual, or Transgender, or Questioning, is an equally valid and successful option to everyone else who is honest about who they are.
Hiding who you are if you're Gay? That's an option that is NOT equally valid and successful.
Being yourself and being openly GLBTQ? That IS an equally valid and successful option. Because the option isn't to become straight. The option is to lie about who you are.
So everyone's children (including, as the New York Times reported, Mr. Paladino's gay staffer) might indeed be "better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family" - especially if they're able to safely come out as Gay and the laws of this country allowed them to marry the man or woman they fall in love with! (Though really, not everyone needs to get married and have kids to be successful!)
And you know what? I don't want my kid brainwashed any longer by our culture into thinking that homosexuality is NOT an equally valid or successful option. It absolutely is!
Here's more info from the Human Rights Campaign on National Coming Out Day - with resources and events.
Another way to celebrate is to check out my "Coming Out?" Links on the right column of this blog. There's some great stuff there, a few awesome youtube videos (Dan Savage and his husband Terry telling GLBTQ kids and teens "It Gets Better!" and Dustin Lance Black accepting his Oscar for "Milk" and sharing a message for Gay kids today), and a link to my first essay on National Coming Out Day at this blog - which still resonates for me.
So no matter who you love, remember to love yourself first - and celebrate National Coming Out Day!