Diane Silver

National Coming Out Day and Morality

Filed By Diane Silver | October 11, 2010 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: In Search of Goodness, National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day,88comingout.gif 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?

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I lived with the guilt and shame of hiding who I was for many years of my life because I knew who I was inside would not be accepted. The conflict of having to try to cope with the fact your entire life was based upon a lie became overwhelming to me even if it was a lie which most seemed to prefer to have me continue. They preferred that lie of a life instead of being truthful and honest about who you are. It is too bad people do not understand what they do to each of us inside by trying to make us fit into the same mold as they find comfortable for themselves. We should celebrate our differences as that is what gives life flavor and provides humankind it's real strength. If we were all the same this world would be a pretty boring place. I hope that many others find their voice and the courage to come forward this year. Living a lie is really no way to live life, indeed looking back it seemed to be no life at all, and that is from someone who tried to live the lie they knew inside for too many years.

Thanks for the beautiful post, Diane. Wishing all of our TBP readers a wonderful National Coming Out Day. Whether trans or cis, gay, bi or straight, I wish you a life that is authentic and true to yourself in a world without closets or shame.

For 50-something years I hid who I was in truth and tried desperately to be who everyone wanted me to be. And failed. I was miserable, unhappy, and unable to have many real friends. I came out a little over a year ago as a transsexual and as a lesbian. I live my life on the assumption that everybody knows and that's ok. If they have a problem with me or they have a problem with the way I live my life, it is _their_ problem. Beyond that I am a peace-seeker; I look to find and hear the truth of all the people I meet and know.

Thanks, Diane! It's important to remember that coming out is for straight people too, and not just politically as allies but also a time to acknowledge that they too have sexualities that others have tried to stomp all over.

Diane, you are so right, that NCOD is so much about integrity. The obvious point about integrity is that you aren't lying to the people around you about who you really are. But there's more.

"Integrity" means that as a whole person you are integrated -- meaning that every part of you is in agreement, in alignment, with every other part of you. It is impossible to be in the closet and be integrated. In the closet means you are compartmentalized, that parts of you refuse to be in agreement with other parts of you.

Ultimately, NCOD is not about politics. Coming out is ultimately a spiritual process, because without coming out a part of you cannot survive, cannot be alive. After coming out, you are stronger, and even with all the social disconnects, it is easier to survive, because you don't have to try any more to make your lies work, because you are loving yourself, all of you.

If you belive in God, it is impossible to be in the closet to God. He knows who you are, and you get to decide if He can love you just the way you are.

If you are an atheist, then it is impossible to be in the closet to the universe. The forces inside you and around you are what they are, whether you acknowledge them or not. Coming out is about getting in touch with what is real, outside you and inside you.