Posted by: Catherine Lugg | May 14, 2011

The most radical thing ANY queer person can do

is to be OUT to our family of origin. Telling the truth about our lives demands that our non-queer family members, particularly those of older generations, re-examine all of the crappola they’ve learned and assumed about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Such thinking and re-thinking can cause a radical shift of perspective, or so today’s NYTimes seems to indicate. The story is on “Wealthy donors to GOP are backing gay marriage push,” noting that normally conservative Republicans (with LOTS of $$$$), are supporting “gay marriage” as a human rights issue. Consequently, even the most doctrinaire conservative can support gay marriage, if their own kid’s live life is at stake.

The involvement of Mr. Singer is the most striking, given his devotion to conservative candidates and philanthropy: He is chairman of the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning research group, and one of the most generous Republican donors in the country. But he also has a personal stake in the issue: he has a gay son who married his partner in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal.

It’s far more difficult (and pathological) to hate the evil and dreaded “queer,” if said queer is your child, sister, brother, mother, father, etc. Consequently, the fights over gay marriage, while they will continue to play out, are going to end with gay marriage eventually being legalized in all 50 states. And this will happen thanks to the efforts of people ACROSS the political and religious spectrum.

Over 30 years ago, Harvey Milk noted that coming out was the most important thing any gay person could do–for only then would all of the ugly stereotypes end. He was correct then and he’s still right. Furthermore, as Audre Lorde astutely noted long ago, “Your silence will not keep you safe.” Neither will your hiding or selective hiding. Both friends and homophobes can figure out who’s queer and who’s non-queer. And if you’re queer, but hiding in a closet, the homophobe will sense your fear and give you grief anyway.

So, if you’re in an safe place both physically and emotionally, please come out. The world is becoming a far friendlier place. It’s time to enjoy your place in the sun.

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Responses

  1. This post had a profound impact on me. While I have been actively engaged in LGBT rights work for years (including in leadership positions), and currently research LGBT youth issues, I was not out to my extended family. Until last night, after reading your post, when I sent a mass coming out email (I see and speak to them so rarely that waiting to speak to them would have taken years). The reaction so far has been positive, although I am not confident that it will be universally positive. But I wanted to thank you for your post, because it gave me the push that I needed to finally be brave and honest. And radical.

  2. Dear Adrienne:

    Thanks for being brave, honest, and so very radical. Over the years, and in multiple and varied ways, I’ve been struck by how just important it is to be completely out–to our families of origin (which is the hardest), to being out professionally (which can be terrifying depending on your profession), to being out to the neighbors, the church folks, your doctors, etc. etc.

    The truth is radical AND dangerous, but ultimately so very freeing. Here are a thousand hugs!


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