Keith Herring - National Coming Out Day Poster

Causality (also referred to as causation[1]) is the relation between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the first event is understood to be responsible for the second. – Wikipedia

Watching the pictures roll in from my friends at Pride in San Franciso this weekend I felt a bit jealous that I wasn’t there with them taking part in the celebration. These friends, closer than family who I love dearly and have so much shared history with. Many nights of dancing and fun and other nights of profound sadness and long conversations.

Before there were national Gay Pride celebrations there was a “National Coming Out Day”. In 1988 GLBTQ folks typically weren’t visible. In San Franciso or New York sure people were out and proud but in middle America, in the suburbs, in schools and workplaces we were not.

The late 1980’s we were in the middle of the AIDS epidemic. Rock Hudson, the man that put a celebrity face on AIDS had been dead 3 years. The doors of his closeted life blown open by the tragedy of his death. Ryan White was still alive and along with other AIDS activists was trying to educate the country that AIDS was not just a gay disease or as some hateful people had insisted some kind of deserved retribution from God for being gay.

In the midst of this came the simple idea, a call to arms (or at least a call to step up); National Coming Out Day.  The idea is ridiculously simple. Tell the people in your life who you really are. Come out.

It’s easy to vilify or demonize the unknown, the faceless stranger. It’s easy to ignore the cries of someone else for justice or equality, but what about when it’s someone you know?  The idea behind National Coming Out Day was beautifully simple but revolutionary. By stepping up (and out) and telling friends, family and co-workers they were GLBTQ, it changed the world.

I realize how super dramatic that sounds but I believe it with every fiber of my being. Not only did becoming visible put friendly (and family) faces on words like “gay” and “lesbian”. It reinforced the point that not only are we everywhere but we’re just like you. We want the same things, someone to share our love and life with, a job that lets us contribute to society and a family to be a part of.  All of that because of the bravery of those who took the plunge and started the tidal wave of openness.

Kudos to you my friends for being visible.

2 thoughts on “Causality

  1. ‘It’s easy to vilify or demonize the unknown, the faceless stranger’ – this is so true. Kudos also to people like you willing to make your support equally visible. Beautiful post – thank you 🙂

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