Happy National Coming Out Day, everyone, especially to those who are LGBTQ! The day celebrates people’s freedom to identify themselves as part of the Rainbow Flag, and to present their whole selves for the world to see.
This year’s NCOD is more important than ever. The United States, formerly taking small steps towards progress, is backtracking thanks to the most totalitarian regime we have seen in years. We have the most ignorant, inane, and reckless administration that has ruined dozens of lives in a matter of months. Fighting them means picking our battles. We also have to keep recouping our strength on seeing the loss of basic decency.
Outside the Closet
Coming out is much like testing a boat you’ve never sailed on unfamiliar waters. People may say one thing and claim another. They can appear as flat rocks but below the surface are actually jagged, harsh fire coral. You may find yourself without a home, a community, or your loved ones. People may deny that you exist, that your identity has meaning. Or you may find yourself with more people in your life, more ideas, and more positive encouragement.
We can’t decide if it’s always safe to leave the closet. Each individual has to make that choice. I say kudos to the ones who have the courage, the freedom, or both. The waters have turned turbulent, and the storm clouds constantly strike at the boats.
Our Reality AS LGBTQ
Being LGBTQ right now is downright dangerous. We’ve received confirmation that the United States won’t support the UN mandate that condemns executions of people who belong to the Rainbow Flag.
This comes after certain countries have gone after its citizens who identify themselves as LGBTQIA+, or who have made them disappear. Russia comes to mind, with the ongoing persecution of gay men in Chechnya, who are still getting attacked even with humanitarian organizations watching them. It doesn’t help that we all know that Russia rigged the US elections so that we ended up with an uncaring tyrant, and has been encouraging dissent via hackers.
Our Situation as LGBTQ
Some of us are fortunate to be under the radar, and we breathe a sigh of relief, as we learn about donation areas for those who have been attacked. Even with that, living sometimes feels like a time bomb; we wonder when the white vans will show up and drag us to detention areas. Even in the safeties of our homes, we have to argue against the prejudices that homomisia, or the fear of non-hetero identities, that brews in the conservative mindset. I know I’ve encountered ample frustration.
Others aren’t so lucky in the United States: hate crimes have increased, and the sheer amount of legal discrimination attempts has skyrocketed. The Orlando shooting from 2016 was a canary in a coal mine that hurt dozens of people, and will continue to hurt them.
I find something even worse: people who are LGBTQ but have allied themselves with the Trump administration. Obviously they’ve overlooked the transgender military ban that nearly went through, and the prejudices du jour. They are the worst kind of traitors, because they are hurting themselves and dozens of others.
Fortunately or unfortunately, our fiction marches towards incremental progress. We’ve seen a stronger push for diverse books with POC and marginalized characters, and a condemnation of literature that promotes hate. The government hasn’t started the book burning events or closing down of bookstores yet. The administration would have to delete a lot of files off Kindles and Nooks, for one.
We can also identify problematic representation. The Internet allows for reviewers to spread critical thinking. Writers can talk about their experiences, unique as they are, and reach an audience. They can also receive well-deserved criticism of terms.
Media, at least animated television and film, has also improved. We are seeing more references to LGBTQ relationships—Lego Batman, for example, has Batman claim he is Bruce Wayne’s husband to hide his identity from Dick Grayson. In the 1950s, such a joke would have led to Batman comics being banned outright. Gravity Falls pushed to portray a same-sex couple up until the series finale. Star vs. the Forces of Evil managed to complete the journey by showing many same-sex couples at a concert. Steven Universe explores sexuality and gender identity, while narrating these journeys to help the children of our generation.
We are still here. No homomisia can erase the people who have made it to the present. Some of us also have to remain in the closet, for our safety. But unless some people prefer totalitarianism and mandated ignorance, we are all in this together. I love you all.
I always have my email open, in case anyone who’s part of the rainbow flag needs an ear. For those who come out on this day, and brave the unknown currents, I wish you the best protection and all the encouragement you can receive. You already have courage, and the determination to stay.