October 11 is National Coming Out Day, a day to raise awareness of LGBT rights issues and for young LGBTs to get advice about coming out when they are ready. After it was revealed over the weekend that another gay youth has committed suicide, it also seems an ideal opportunity for straight advocates to make their voices heard and let LGBT youth know that they are loved and supported.
Even as we have witnessed an unfolding spate of LGBT youth suicides, or seen reports of recent anti-gay hate crimes and read about the discrimination flying around as part of certain political campaigns in the lead up to the November elections, we have also witnessed a more vocal support for LGBTs and LGBT youth emerge. Too often those voices of affirmation are overpowered by rhetoric and dogma, but that needn’t be the case.
You’ve likely heard of the It Gets Better Project and you might have heard of the Make it Better Project which aims to empower LGBT kids to make life better for themselves by giving them the tools to put a stop to bullying and harassment and to get the help they need. The message is: People care and they are waiting to help you if only you’ll reach out to them.
Given that premise, this National Coming Out Day (and every day after) seems like a perfect time to come out if you are a straight advocate, too.
Imagine that by making other people aware of your support, you could make life better for someone who has been internalizing and worrying about how they will be treated should they reveal their sexuality or gender identity? What if your speaking up shows to that person acceptance is not only possible, but is right there waiting for them in people they know like you?
Or, what if by coming out as a straight advocate you empower your own child or teen, who might have sat by before as another kid was bullied because of his or her perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity? Your willingness to talk about your advocacy might encourage your child to stand up and to help kids, whether LGBT or not, so they can find the support they need to make the bullying stop.
Granted, it’s a simple idea, but knowing that you are not alone, that you do have support not just in the wider community but in straight advocate adults too, could be invaluable to LGBT and questioning youth.
So, if you can, take the time to vocalize and share your advocacy for LGBTs and their rights, because in doing so you might help change a life for the better or save a life from spiraling into depression and hopelessness.