By Aman Sharma
On this National Day of Coming Out 2021, an important question ignited a chain of thoughts in my mind. When I started thinking about the world, where different groups are struggling every day to fight for equality and justice, there is a section amongst these people, who are also struggling with their own identities and questions surrounding it while fighting the same battles as everyone. This struggle is that of self-discovery, self-acceptance and being comfortable enough to accept themselves and be ready to trust their loved ones with their identity. But then this question comes, why do they need to confess this at all? I chose this word ‘confess’ because even in this modern world, telling someone who you like or you don’t, can feel almost like a guilty confession as this does not fit well into a world that has been socially imposing heterosexual relationships.
A lot of people may say that things are changing and we have come far from the time when things were much more difficult. To this, I went further into the origin of the phrase coming out. A source mentions that “coming out of the closet” is a mixed metaphor that combines “coming out” with the closet metaphor: an evolution of “skeleton in the closet” (literally a shameful act) specifically referring to living a life of denial and secrecy by concealing one’s sexual orientation. Now, this makes me wonder, whether living life the way an individual chooses until they can tell it to others, will amount to them living in a closet, where the closet metaphor, in turn, is an extension of the force and pressure of the heterosexual society and it’s “norms”.
During their youth, every person goes through a lot of changes, they try to learn more about their bodies, their associations and their attractions or absence of it towards others. As this stage proceeds, they may face bullying, prejudices, phobia or other kinds of similar negative experiences which further limit the expression of these individuals and may make them feel guilty of not being able to fit into the perfect world of heterosexuality.
The guilt of concealing their identities, the absence of their self-acceptance due to pressure from their surroundings, and the non-existence of support from their inner or external circles, all make it very difficult to tell somebody what the people from the LGBTQIA+ community want for themselves. In a world where they are a suppressed minority, they even have to censor their love while their heterosexual fraternity members can proudly take their lovers over the red carpet. The community even has to answer questions such as, “when did you know you were queer?” I am not sure how many straight folks are faced with the same question.
Now coming back to the day which celebrates the coming out as a celebration of self-acceptance, understanding, and valuing your sexual orientation/identity, I feel that this day is important for the community as there is an important aspect of the history when thirty-four years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that the power of coming out is vested in every queer individual for them to exercise when they feel right. Coming out as LGBTQ+ still matters since it makes the story of the person empowering for others who are still subjugated to a tiny closet of prejudice.
Individual feelings can differ for this day and they should be respected whether people support coming out of the closet or believe in the creation of a world where there is no longer such need to come out for people. I believe in creating a more equal and acceptable world where everyone can live their lives on their terms without fear of any prejudices or hate coming their way. A world, created with our individual and collective efforts, where there is no need for a National Day of Coming Out since no love or identity will be shunned into a closet.
However, until that day is a reality, we need to remember that we can start from our circles, our friends or families where we discuss the concerns of the LGBTQIA+ community, the problems they face and how we can help them and others to understand the gender and sexual identities that exist under the wide spectrum. To the individuals who are still struggling to figure out their identities, I say that take your time, there is no hurry. You are on your journey that is unique and special. You will find a time and space where you can express freely whenever you want to; it can be right now or later. Remember that while it is difficult to figure this out on your own, you can always reach out to online support groups, help pages, professional organizations or us, at Vex Ed, where help will always be provided. Let’s rejoice this day, support the community as a member or an ally and create a more equal and accepting world. Happy National Coming Out 2021 to you!