Today is National Coming Out Day. If you're straight, like I am, you might think that doesn't have much to do with you. But today might be a good day for you to come out, too, as a straight ally.
The Human Rights Campaign website says “A straight ally is someone who is not gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) but personally advocates for GLBT equal rights and fair treatment.”
As my circle of friends has grown to include many gay and lesbian people I've gotten a glimpse into their world and it's limitations. I don't think I would like to live there and because I care about them, I don't want them to live there, either. I want them to be free to be who they are and love who they love without apologizing to anyone or jumping through legal hoops to protect their families.
I find it ironic that National Coming Out Day comes during a month when we dress up in costumes and pretend to be someone we're not.
I remember when I was a very little girl and I spent every day outside with my big brother, playing football and baseball, climbing trees and riding bikes all over the neighborhood just like all the boys. (And I'm very grateful that my mother never tried to limit these activities!) But every now and then, and always on Sundays, I had to dress up and no matter how pretty my parents told me I looked I never quite felt like myself in all those ribbons and bows and petticoats. Once I got home I'd put my jeans and tennis shoes back on just as quickly as I could and breathe a sigh of relief and just be myself again.
I know that what I felt as a kid is only a drop in the bucket compared to what so many feel every day as they live closeted lives or face the limitations of the legal system, struggling to just be who they are. I hope someday we will all live in a land where even those who do not share our religious beliefs are free to live their lives without limitations. I want to be someone who helps us move in that direction.
Because it's not about religion.
It's about acceptance.
Accepting the fact that not everyone is just like you.
Accepting the fact that the world is big enough for all of us.
Accepting the fact that when my neighbor is safer, I'm safer, too.
Accepting the fact that I have a responsibility to vote in a way that helps assure the safety of all of our citizens, not just the ones who share my beliefs.
So, Happy National Coming Out Day to all of my friends and family.
And Happy Halloween.
Who are you going to be?