Yes, We Still Need a National Coming Out Day

Should LGBT people still come out? At least one gay mandoesn’t thinkso.

Ohio State University professor Matthew H. Birkhold just wrote an op-ed for the Washington Postadvocatingan end to National Coming Out Day, which is celebrated each year on October 11.

Birkholdargues thatLGBT people have become far more accepted in society since the holidayoriginated in the late1980s –so much so that we shouldn’t come out anymore.

But Birkhold seems to forget one crucial point: Our world may bemore accepting than in the past, butthat doesn’tmakeit is safe to be LGBT inthe United States today.Just because most people support marriage equalityand don’t disapprove of same-sex relations, doesn’t mean that LGBT rights overall are as widely supported.

Less than half of U.S. states have lawsto protectworkers from getting fired because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT hate crimes persist. Bisexual women face more sexual assault than any other orientation.

Meanwhile, transgenderpeople die ofmurder at alarming rates. In fact, advocates put the life expectancy of trans women of color at age 35.

In 2017, coming out still serves as a vital act of resistance.

Over the last few years, many like Birkhold have used marriage equality as a litmus test for LGBT rights. But they seem to forget that LGBT rights are far more encompassing.

After all, not every LGBT person wants to get married. That’s not always a priority when so many people face much deeper violence and discrimination.

Birkhold also makes the argument thatour culture needs to treat LGBT people as “normal.” And expecting us to come out reinforces that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is abnormal.

However, we mustacknowledge that some LGBT lives are not normal — and they don’t need to be.

A monogamous, married same-sex couple with children may not look too different from the average nuclear family. However, what about those of us who are non-monogamous?

So often bigots point to gay and bisexual men’s alleged promiscuity to denyLGBT rights. Even for individuals who behave this way, it shouldn’t matter. Everyone deserves basic human decency, no matter how they look or act.

Where do non-binary people who don’t call themselves men or women fit in? What about those whoseexistence is routinely ignored and fetishized at once, like bisexual folks?

As abi womanwith twocommittedromantic partners, I can speak from personal experience: People aren’t going to think I exist until I tell them. They aren’t going to respect me until I demand it.

Birkhold acknowledges that National Coming Out Day may be important to some people — and that he has more security as a “white, 30-something married professor.” Even though he’s obviously thought through his stance, he’s incorrect in his conclusion.

I likeBirkhold’svision of a world that makes no assumptions about people’s sexuality or gender identity, but we aren’t close to that ideal yet. Even ourhistory booksremain overwhelmingly straight and cisgender.

Coming out doesn’t further marginalize LGBT people. It only shines a light on thediscrimination that already exists.

Photo Credit: Peter Hershey/Unsplash

48 comments

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

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Jerome S
Jerome S7 months ago

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Jerome S
Jerome S7 months ago

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Jim V
Jim Ven7 months ago

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Jim V
Jim Ven7 months ago

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Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

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Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Y11 months ago

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Y11 months ago

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Y11 months ago

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