October 11, 2006

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

In case anybody in queerland has been allowed to forget, Quench reminds you that it's National Coming Out Day. In the interest of celebrating with you, allow us to come out:

Some Quench contributors are lesbians.
Some Quench contributors are gay men.
Some Quench contributors are bisexuals.
Some Quench contributors are other types of sexuality-queer.
Some Quench contributors are MTF.
Some Quench contributors are FTM.
Some Quench contributors are other types of genderqueer.
Some Quench contributors are fabulous allies to LGBTQQI people.*
Many Quench contributors are combinations of the above.

I think that covers it, not that any of these comings-out are at all surprising if you've read Quench for more than 30 seconds.

*Yes, by the way, allies do often have to come out as allies, and in many cases it can be risky and traumatic to do so. Being an out ally is gutsy and brave, especially when you have nothing personal to lose by staying silent. Today is a day for allies, too.

Today we celebrate our own comings-out, whether they were painful, liberating, ambiguous, or completely uneventful. Today we thank those that helped us come out to ourselves and to those in our lives whose opinions matter to us. Today we celebrate the strength that comes from being openly who we are, and the strength it took (and takes) to get there.

Today we consider that, for many of us, coming out is an ongoing process. Unless we're visibly, unambiguously, in-your-face queer-looking (and you'd be surprised how high the standard of "unambiguous" actually is for most people), people we meet will generally assume that we aren't queer at all, and the time may come in any given interaction where we have to correct that assumption. Even if we think we've come out to everyone possible and thus have nothing left to do today, some stranger on the bus may make pleasant small talk about our presumed non-queer lives, and we will once again face the choice whether or not to come out.

Today we think about those who have yet to make that choice, or who have chosen not to come out. We remember that although staying in the closet may seem like "the easy way out" to those of us who have fought hard for our identities to be recognized and accepted, the choice not to come out (or not to come out yet) is difficult, too, and is usually the result of careful deliberation. We stand behind those who haven't come out, and hope that one day they will feel safe enough to join us. Today we remember that, even if we are comfortable being open in our identities, our work is not done until others have the freedom to feel equally comfortable.

Today we stand behind those who are using National Coming-Out Day for its original purpose: to admit to themselves or to reveal to someone else that they're some form of queer, or some type of ally. We lend them some of our strength to help them approach the task, we celebrate with them if it goes well, we commiserate with them if it goes poorly, and we support them in their choice to be counted among our ranks. Each of us who is currently out was once in exactly the same place.

Today is National Coming Out Day, and today we stop and acknowledge all the complexities of outness. We give thanks that the state of the world for outlaws like us is as good as it is, we mourn or protest its failings, and we turn our faces forward and work to make it better.

Happy Coming Out Day, everyone.


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