Today is National Coming Out Day.
I would like to start this post by wishing anyone, whatever age or sexuality, who is coming out today, good luck and support. There is a whole world of support and love out there, and if the worst happens – that will be your family. Good luck. ❤
And now I will just dive straight into the less-upbeat post.
When I came out at fifteen (reading my coming out story here) I was greeted with support. A few people had questions, a few people were doubtful and a lot of people were confused; but I didn’t lose any family, and I only lost a few friends – who I now realise, were not very good friends. But other people are not this lucky. Other people lose their entire families, lose all their friends, because homeless. Some people, sadly more than you’d think, are jailed. Some people lose their lives. Some people take their lives.
I know what it is like to wish you were dead. I know what it is like to try to make that a reality. But during that dark period of my life, it was never my sexuality that made me feel bad. I have never once wished I was straight, nor felt bad or ashamed about who I love. And every single day I am grateful for how lucky I am. Because I have lived in shame, and lived with guilt and self-loathing, and it destroys you; it eats you away from the inside until you are hollow and the only thing you are anymore is that hatred for yourself. I know how that feels. But I cannot imagine how much worse it is, when that hatred is for the fundamental part of who you are; of who you love.
The world is a far more accepting place than it was even five years ago – almost 30 states in the U.S. have legalised same-sex marriage, you can now get married in England, Scotland or Wales, hell, the Netherlands has allowed and recognised gay marriage since 2001! But as great as this is, only 19 countries in the entire world have full legislation for same-sex marriage. And what even scarier than that statistic, is that there are 81 countries where being gay is illegal. In 5 of those countries, you can be killed. Be killed just for fucking loving someone the same gender as you. And that’s just a legal death sentence – even in the most progressive of countries there are still high death rates among LGBT+ people whether that’s suicide or murder.
But aren’t all these laws really old? No. That wouldn’t be an excuse, but no, they’re not old. Even today in 2014 new laws are being put into place (Uganda’s recent Anti-Homosexuality bill, which was passed this year). Even today in 2014 we had the Winter Olympics hosted by a country who had anti-gay laws. Even today in 2014 while parts of America are legalising gay marriage, other parts are introducing and enforcing new anti-gay laws.
Although yes, the world is becoming more progressive with LGBT+ rights and this can be shown by this year Ellen Page coming out, or drag queen Conchita Wurst performing and winning Eurovision, or trans woman Laverne Cox’s rise to fame, what is actually happening is people’s confidence in equality is rising. But all the while, the flipside is becoming more and more extreme.
While today should be celebrated, there is also a deep underlying message. Wherever and whoever you are, please today, take a moment to think of the people who can’t come out because they may be killed. Take a moment to think of the people who can’t come out because they’re ashamed of themselves. Take a moment for the people who can’t come out because they’re not here anymore.