Out of the Closet, Into the Revolution
Four years ago, I fell in love with a man and he fell in love with me. In order to protect his identity, I will simply say he was from a country and a culture that expressly forbade the love that we had for each other. Every time I think about him, every time I meet someone in a similar situation, my heart breaks for a moment. I feel this way because I know that who we are and who they are is not wrong. Yet I know that they truly think it is or they feel that their family or society would never accept them. Gay rights activist, politician, and revolutionary Harvey Milk once said, “Coming out is the most political thing you can do.” I read these words six years ago and I have never forgotten them. He died for the rights LGB individuals have today, yet the fact of the matter is that the fight for equal justice did not end with his death, and it certainly did not end with Marriage Equality. During the height of the AIDS epidemic gay, lesbian, and bisexual activists pleaded for the government to confront the issue yet their cries for help were not taken seriously. The Pride Parades of today that have become vast celebrations of Queerness, once more closely resembled mass funeral marches. During the sixties and into the seventies, gay men and women were classified as “sexual psychopaths”. People like us were institutionalized, drugged, brainwashed, electrocuted, and even partially lobotomized. They were labeled criminals, mentally ill, sexually deviant, sinners. I am not writing this opinion piece to drudge up the injustices of the past or even to justify homosexuality and bisexuality in the present. I know that sexual orientation needs no justification. I sat down to write about feminism and in doing so I decided I should write about something equally close to my heart, something that I have been dying to express for twenty years of my life since I knew that I was gay. I am writing to any person who reads this and feels like I once did because I know the weight of the burden that you carry. I am writing this because I am tired of this conclusion that since now I can marry the man I love within this country that somehow the injustices towards people like us have simply dissipated. I have met people of all ages, all over this country who are not living life with the freedom and fulfillment that they could have if they simply said, this is me take me for what I am. When people like us stand up and come out to our families, our friends, our coworkers, people see that we are not some small subset of individuals who live in some far away city like San Francisco or New York. We are your loved ones, your brothers, your sisters, even your moms and dads. Coming out of the closet serves to destigmatize an integral part of who you are as a human being and helps further the movement for every single one of us. So if you’re reading this and you are living a life that is not genuine to who you truly are. If there is an entire piece of you that you feel you cannot share with your friends or your loved ones, if you feel like nobody understands and you are completely alone, remember this, you are not alone. There are more of us than anyone is willing to admit. I want you to know that I understand, there are other people who understand, and those who don’t understand yet can learn to love you for who you actually are. I know that to some this may seem like an unpopular opinion, but I have learned that life is too short and too beautiful to waste concerned with what people think of you. Being true to yourself is more important than your commitment to your family, it is more important than your commitment to your faith, and it is certainly more important than any commitment to social norms. No bible, no Quran, no testament, priest, parent, Rabbi, rules, or legislation can tell you that who you are is something to hide. Love yourself, anyone worth having around will follow your lead.