The scene: 1992, my parents’ kitchen. I’d made a special trip to their house to say something to them that I’d been rehearsing in my head for years. Once there, feeling very nervous, I found my father fixing his lunch.
Dad: “What are you doing out here?”
Me: “I need to talk to you about something.”
Dad: “What’s going on?”
Me: “Well…I need to tell you…um...Well...about my ‘lifestyle,’ as you’d say…”
He stops what he’s doing.
Me: “I…well…I…I’ll just say it. I’m gay.”
Dad: “Oh. I was waiting for you to figure that out.”
That’s the extent of my coming-out story. Rather uneventful, I know. Although I couldn’t have hoped for a better ending, I realized this wasn’t my entire story. Since that day, I, like so many others, have had to continually “come out.” When you start at a new school, start a new job, move to a new neighborhood, or even go on vacation, someone will say something and you’ll have to come out all over again. Two months ago my eight-year-old niece asked why I don’t have a girlfriend or a wife. So, there I was, almost 30 years after that talk with my father, coming out to my niece.
October 11th is National Coming Out Day. Robert Eichberg, a psychologist, and activist Jean O’Leary chose the date in 1988 to commemorate the previous year’s National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights. The intention is to show that most everyone knows someone who identifies as LGBTQ+, and having a dedicated day of recognition helps break down long-held stereotypes and raise awareness for LGBTQ+ rights.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a positive, uneventful story for this huge moment in their life. All too often it ends in tears, screaming, violence, or even being disowned by family or friends.
Thankfully, October is also LGBTQ+ History Month, so there are many resources available. Started in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, the first openly gay high school history teacher in Missouri, it’s grown to be celebrated in many countries and cities around the world. For more information, visit History Colorado’s LGBTQ+ page or the Human Rights Campaign.