Friday, October 12, 2007

National Coming Out Day: Yesterday, Today, and Every Day

So, you're probably thinking: "Wow. Lee sure missed a great opportunity yesterday with it being National Coming Out Day and all... did he forget?"

Well, YES and NO.

Let me explain:

Coming Out is a process, and even though I've been out for a looong time, there are still moments - on a weekly basis - when I have to "come out" all over again.

The phone rings.

"Hello?" (suspicious tone from my not recognizing the caller ID)

"Can I speak with the lady of the house?"

(in my low, very guy voice) "You're talking to her."

A Salesman: "I bet your wife would love this."

Me: "I'll have to ask my partner what he thinks."

The checkout lady at the grocery store, to my young daughter: "Oh, Mommy's getting a break Today?"

Me: "No, we're a two Dad family. Her other Dad's getting the break."

It goes on and on, all these "teachable moments."

The challenging news is that Coming Out, first to yourself, then to your friends, to your family, and to the world is not a one-time "Ta-Dah!" thing. It's a process and a journey.

The encouraging news is that now there are lots of resources - both external and internal - to help you.

There's a listing of great links always up on this blogsite (scroll down on the right side) called:

Coming Out? Check out:

And I hope you do.

The first listing (under the link to this post) is the Human Rights Campaign's Resource Guide for Coming Out. Click it. Download it. Read it. An excellent overview.

The second, "Brent Says It So Well" will take you to fellow GLBTQ YA author Brent Hartinger's website page where he shares so beautifully about his process of coming out.

The Third is a link to the Gay Straight Alliance Network. While this is a California-specific organization, the information they provide is useful for anyone trying to set up a GSA, anywhere.

The Fourth gets you to the homepage of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, a non-profit focused on issues of schools being safe places for Teens and Kids in our GLBTQ community.

The next, "GLBTQ Groups/Community Near You," is a link to Queer America, a search engine where you enter in your area code and zip code and you get a list of lots of GLBTQ resources. Very cool information to have.

Next is The Trevor Project. It's a link to their web site, but I've also listed their phone number. (866) 4-U-TREVOR. When you need to talk to someone, it's a national crisis and suicide prevention counseling phone line for GLBTQ Kids, Teens and Young Adults.

The second to last link is to the organization PFLAG. This is an amazing group - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Good stuff for your whole family.

And last, for now, is a link to the Point Foundation, the National LGBT Scholarship Fund. There are still so many stories of kids living in fear that if they come out, they'll be abandoned by their families and that their dreams of going to college or grad school won't come true. Well, the Point Foundation's mission is to give SCHOLARSHIPS to GLBTQ students so they CAN afford to be OUT, be true to themselves, and to get a great education after High School!
They even have a mentoring program!! Okay, I LOVE that these scholarships exist!

And now, one more: Something unusual for me here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" A movie recommendation.

Check out the amazing, Oscar Winning Documentary, "The Times of Harvey Milk." Harvey Milk's belief that the biggest thing you can do for equality is to be OUT and just be yourself is profound.

If every GLBTQ person in the whole country was OUT, discrimination couldn't thrive, because every American would KNOW and realize they CARE ABOUT someone in our community. (Of course, there will always be the disappointments of people like Dick Cheney, who even with a Lesbian Daughter and a grandchild being raised in a Two Mom family is part of an administration fomenting discrimination against his own daughter.) But despite that, I still feel Harvey Milk's premise is sound and inspiring, because I see it in my own life.

Are there people that don't like me simply because I'm gay? Sure. But I'm Out, and living my life, and just by doing what I do - being a good parent, a good partner, and a good person (hey, I try my darndest!) I'm making a difference:

At my daughter's preschool, where the director, through emotional tears, said before we came to the school she never even thought about Gay parents, but after seeing us raise our daughter over the course of a year, she'd be happy to speak in a debate about how Gay people can be excellent parents! (And would we be interested in giving some pointers to some of the other parents at the school...)

At the gas station, where two employees were heckling each other and one twenty-something shouted in a nasty way to another, "You are so gay!" And I stopped him and said that I'm Gay, and that it wasn't cool to use "gay" as a slur. And he was embarrassed, and even though he might still think of using "gay" in a mean way, I'm pretty sure he won't be yelling it at work again any time soon.

At the pottery painting store, when one woman was explaining loudly and proudly at the table next to us about the wedding bowl she was making for friends, how she'd spent hours, with great love and care, to paint on it the names of everyone who had attended the wedding. And how she had made a terrible mistake by putting the names of the one Gay couple up top, and how she had to re-do it to bury their names in the list at the bottom instead. And I walked up to her (holding my Toddler's hand) and I told her that I was Gay, that my daughter has Two Dads, and that while she might think that it's embarrassing to put the gay couple up top, it wasn't okay for her to shout out that there's something WRONG with my kind of love. She can think it, but don't say it. Not in front of me or my kid.

I won't be silent.

So with the Harvey Milk documentary and the links above, that's a lot of external resources, and it's by no means a comprehensive list.

But what do I mean about internal resources to help you Come Out?

Read one of the books listed at this blogsite. Read two. Read these amazing books with GLBTQ Characters and Themes, and feel them feed your soul.

It's what I wished for when I was 16 - I read everything I could but never found a reflection of myself in a book I loved. It's what made me a writer - and when you read a book that DOES reflect that part of yourself, well - that inclusion has the power to transform your self-image.

We, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer people are worthy of LOVE.

We are worthy of GOOD.

We are worthy of RESPECT.

We are worthy of CELEBRATION.

And we are worthy of some AMAZING Teen novels.

So come out, come out, wherever you are...

COME OUT OUTSIDE, and change the world.

And COME OUT INSIDE, and change your image of yourself by reading the wonderful books listed at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"

National Coming Out Day. Yesterday. Today. Every Day.




Rita said...

Great, great post, Lee. Thanks for sharing--everything!


Anonymous said...

Lee, you are offering such great information here and such candid examples from your own life. Really beautiful. I hope this particular post gets spread around widely--it can help and uplift so many people!

Kloe said...

Hi! My name is Kloe, i'm seventeen, and i'm about to come out to my parents... i'm scared as hell, but i'm just so tired of hiding and lying. I always knew i would do it eventually, but when i read posts like yours, it gives me more courage and strength. Coming Out Day is in a few weeks :)
thank you :D and yes, MILK was an awesome movie!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Thank you for sharing.

I'll tell you what I tell my own daughter: "Being brave isn't about not being scared. Being Brave is being scared, and doing it anyway."

Be Brave, Be yourself, Follow Your heart, Be your own best friend, Be safe, and remember, like RuPaul said, "What other people think about me is none of my business."

words to live by...

Thank you again, good fortune, and enjoy your adventure!