Coming Out Day seems roll around faster every year — or at least it seems that way to me. Launched in 1988 to mark the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day it is the annual opportunity for us to step up, speak out and to “come out of the closet” by naming our reality as LGBTQ people. It is our annual opportunity to stand on the shoulders of Harvey Milk — who famously challenged us, saying “You must come out … and once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions.”
And if there was any complacency in the LGBTQ community — or among straight/cisgender allies — that in this post-marriage equality, Will & Grace-are-back-on-the-air era Coming Out was somehow “old school” then the concerted efforts of the current presidential administration to roll back LGBTQ equality has been a clarion wake up call that we are not done.
We are so not done. And we won’t be done until no gay kid is afraid to go to school because he’ll be bullied. We won’t be done until no lesbian teenager is afraid to walk home because she’ll be jumped. We won’t be done until no transgender woman has to hope she can make it to the ATM and back to her car without “an incident.” And we won’t be done until no child ever has to grow up being taught by his youth pastor that he is an abomination to God.
That’s why this year on Coming Out Day I’m Coming Out again, all right. But I’m not just coming out as a lesbian — which frankly by now is breaking news to absolutely nobody. I’m Coming Out as a Christian.
I’m going to do whatever I can to offer a rebuttal to the rabid rhetoric of the religious right who have taken the Good News of God’s inclusive love and distorted it into a weapon of mass discrimination. Of humiliation. Of homophobia.
Because the stakes are too high. Because the damage to precious souls is too costly. And because the truth that there are people of faith who proclaim justice and compassion — not judgment and condemnation — is too important not to step up and speak out. As Harvey Milk said “You must come out … and once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions.” And for me as a Christian, those lies and distortions include hijacking my faith and turning it into weapon to wound God’s beloved LGBT children.
So Come Out, Come Out wherever you are. Come Out as proud LGBTQ members of the rainbow tribe. Come out as Allies — as straight, queer, questioning, cisgender, gender fluid or wherever you identify on the continuum. And if you happen to be the Christian variety, then Come Out as a Christian, too. Break down some myths. Destroy some lies and distortions. And if we do it long enough and loud enough and together enough eventually we will be done. And October 11th will roll around and nobody will need to Come Out because there won’t be any closets left.
And wouldn’t that be fabulous?
Susan Russell is the Senior Associate for Communication at All Saints Church in Pasadena — and this post is a reprise of her 2014 Huffington Post Coming Out Day piece.