Monday, December 08, 2008

Why Being Out and Proud Matters

As I posted yesterday evening, those of us who attended the LGBT Blogger Summit had the unique opportunity of seeing the movie Milk and then engaging in a discussion session with Clive Jones, Dustin Lance Black and Bruce Cohen. One message that I took away from the whole experience - not to mention specific portions of the movie itself - was that LGBT citizens need to come out of the closet and live openly. The fastest way to dispel the lies put out by our enemies is to allow friends and neighbors to come to realize that we - their doctors, lawyers, fellow business owners, etc. - are just like everyone else save and except who we fall in love with.
Being out and open can be a terrifying prospect and I will confess my own failure and shortcomings in that regard for many years. For far too many years I tried to be something that I was not and in the process made myself and often those around me miserable. Unfortunately, I listened to the propaganda and lies put out by churches and a larger society that value control and uniformity over allowing people living their own lives as God made them. In short, I allowed myself to buy into the anti-gay stereotypes and felt myself a freak, reject and victim. But not anymore. Another side benefit of attending the blogger summit was being surrounded by smart, vibrant LGBT individuals who demonstrated that we are as good as anyone else - hence for example the name of Jeremy Hooper's blog, Good As You.
Another reality that I have learned is that "coming out" is a process that one does not do just once. Rather it is a daily occurrence as one meets new people and encounters different business and social settings. While I do not broadcast my sexuality, nevertheless, new encounters sometime require that you take a deep breath and summon the courage to not hide who you are. Living in an area such as Tidewater Virginia obviously creates more situations where being out has the potential for adverse reactions and even potential rejection. I have some who tell me that I should be more closeted and I certainly know a number of gays who live double lives of sorts out of fear of rejection in business or otherwise. On the other hand, if one gives into fear and goes back into hiding, the result is that you lose a little bit of your soul each time you allow fear to win out. Personally, I forfeited my soul for too many years to go back into that trap.

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