Today is National Coming Out Day, so it seems appropriate to note that there is nothing more important to my search for goodness than integrity. The dictionary on my iMac defines "integrity" as "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness." The only way I can be morally upright is to be honest about who I am: I am a lesbian, and I am proud of it.
When a culture punishes millions of its own people for doing nothing more awful than daring to love, that culture is suffering from an illness far greater than cancer. And the cure isn't chemo; it's honesty. So today I join my sisters and brothers around the nation to once again come out and shout my joy at having the capacity to love.
I live and breathe and laugh and dance and celebrate the ability of all of us -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual -- to find comfort in love, to find spouses and lovers who push us to be the best human beings we can, to share with each other, and to form families and raise children together. This is who I am as a homosexual and a human being. This is what it means to me to be lesbian and whole.
To be in integrity, I can't slice out my heart and pretend to be someone I'm not. I can't deaden my soul, and I certainly can't take on that horrifying task because other people would feel more comfortable if they didn't know I was gay. (Think "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and consider what that policy says about the U.S. military's inability to live in integrity.)
If you're young and struggling with being LGBT and different (Heck, if you're middle-aged and struggling), know that it gets better, oh so amazingly better.
If you're heterosexual and hate seeing your neighbors hurt because they dare to live with integrity, then today is also your coming out day. Declare that you're straight but not narrow. Declare that you're an ally. Come out this instant. Do it here.
Can human beings be good, live good, or even understand goodness if they don't live in integrity? If they don't understand it in others?
National Coming Out Day is an effort to win freedom, safety and legal rights for LGBT people, but this day is more than that. This day is a wake-up call for all Americans, especially those who continue to deny equality to LGBT citizens. Take a close look at your sense of morality. Who are you deep underneath? What closet are you hiding in? Why do you insist that your religious freedom depends on hurting my family, or keeping me from getting a job? Who are you really, and how can you become better than that?