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National Coming Out Day: What does it mean to you?

M2X00017_9.JPG Gay rights activists wave flags during a rally in Belgrade. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)

As cultural discourse around gay rights hits a fever pitch, messages of support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community are pouring out online.

Today is National Coming Out Day, a movement started by the Human Rights Campaign in order for LGBT people -- and their straight allies -- to help raise awareness surrounding gay rights issues. This year, the theme weighs heavily on the importance of ending bullying. People are donating their Facebook statuses at such rapid pace that it's crashing the HRC application that helps them do it. (While we're on the subject: Ricky Martin turned the Human Rights Campaign dinner into a surprise coming out party this past weekend.)

But even as National Coming Out Day unfolds as a way for people to support one another, national headlines indicate conflicting views on homosexuality are mainstream. Last night, New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino told Orthodox Jewish leaders he doesn't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality" is acceptable.

Headlines like these bump up against reports of gay teen suicides. Seattle-based gay columnist Dan Savage created the It Gets Better video project to show teens that "happiness was possible in the future." He'll be on our site answering questions on bullying and teen suicide today at 1 p.m.

Give us Your Take: What does National Coming Out Day mean to you? Use #NCOD to respond on Twitter.

@washingtonpost #NCOD isn't about BEING gay. Its about choosing to be OUT. Because homosexuality is as inherent as the color of your skinless than a minute ago via ÜberTwitter

By Katie Rogers  | October 11, 2010; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Your Take  
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Comments

National Coming Out Day. I'm 35 and I don't recall having it around when I was a teen hiding my homosexuality. I am thrilled that NCOD has become such an influential component to our country's seemingly growing desire to self-destruct. There will be naysayers (aren't there always?), but ultimately I believe that NCOD will give to a number of people hiding in shame the confidence to stop and say to themselves, "Why am I any less of a person because I'm gay? I'm not any less of a person, so I deserve to wear who I am on my sleeve." NCOD is merely a stepping stone for many individuals to realize that who they are - gay, bisexual, transgendered - is okay, despite disagreeing opinions from, say, the Bible Belt or Republicans (among many other anti-enter choice of word here), to be open about who they are. Many achieved goals from countless individuals, organizations, companies, etc., began with a first step. I just hope that NCOD is a catalyst for young teens - which NCOD is taking a particular focus on this year, given the rash of gay teen suicides and reports of bullying in schools because of a student's desire to come out - to examine and understand that it's okay. That would make a great slogan, wouldn't it? It's Okay. The upside to this day and age - despite that self-destruction I mentioned earlier - is that awareness to so many plights have become telescoped into such recognizable issues. The issue of "gay" is no longer an issue but rather a fact of life. Hopefully gay teens who are in the closet due to fear of being rejected take this growing awareness into consideration. So, with that said, I hope a large number of closet doors are left open today.

Posted by: seanpfarley | October 11, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The problem I see with gay peoplei s that they feel a need to tell people they are gay. I mean I do not care if they are gay or not and I do not think most people do either-so why tell everyone. I do not go out and say "I am straight" who really cares. It is like the military; why do certain gay folks have the need to tell everyone. I personally believe your sexuality is a personal issue and is no ones business and I think most poeple also see it that way.

Posted by: rmccr | October 11, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Why do gay people feel the need to tell everyone they are gay. Straight peiople do not.

Posted by: rmccr | October 11, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Rmccr, if you really don't care, why does it bother you if someone tells you that he or she is gay?

Posted by: amm72 | October 11, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

What's the difference between teen suicide and gay-teen suicide? Teen suicide of any type is unacceptable, but don't paint the gay-teens as being forced to suicide by people who don't believe in their sexual orientation openness and don't call people bully's who disagree with their lifestyle. I love their flag, maybe they could start their own country where they can marry.

Posted by: whineridentifier | October 11, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

"What does National Coming Out Day mean to you?"

Nothing.

Posted by: ZZim | October 11, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

What does this day mean to me? It means my country has gone so far down the path away from God that we don't even know to be ashamed of our sins. It means that we've gone so far that now one who would be a leader, a candidate for governor of New York, can't state a historically recognized truth (homosexuality isn't an "equally successful or valid option") without being treated as a pariah or a buffoon in the national media. It means the entertainment media and news media have been successful in their attempt to bully and yes "brainwash" us into thinking that we should be ashamed for seeing something wrong with homosexuality. It means this nation cannot long survive. It means those of us who would be true to God's word must have increased courage and willingness to stand on our convictions without being propped up by sympathetic public opinion.

Posted by: dcsuburb | October 11, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

whineridentifier, why shouldn't we talk about suicide among gay teens, when:

# LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times as much as straight teens.
# More than 1/3 of LGBT kids have attempted to commit suicide.
# LGBT kids are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than straight peers.

You may not like gay people, and you may think the right thing to do is to try and talk gay teens into being straight (I'm not even going to get into how that doesn't work), but surely you should agree that those statistics are alarming and these kids need loving support, whether you agree that being gay is OK or not.

Posted by: amm72 | October 11, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Why tell people who are important in our lives something that is a core aspect of our humanity? Because to be silent about who we are is to be invisible, and if we are invisible we may as well be dead.

There is much to be learned about what this day means - learning to value people as they are created and not dismiss them by twisting the words of a parables created 2000 years ago.

If someone does come out to you - gay, straight, bi, trans, inter - whatever, take it as a complement. It means they think you are mature enough to value them for who they are, not according to some bigoted litmus test propagated by people who live in fear.

Posted by: johnhunsaker4 | October 11, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

You people are sad. You are so filled with hate that you have no ability to see the truth. Being Gay is not a choice so therefor there is no "valid option" to it. You all are the ones that are supposed to have compassion and instead you degrade and hate. Why don't you go after your beloved Gubernatorial Candidate, Mr. Paladino with the same vile attacks that you have for the LGBT Community? He is the one that was married with 3 children and yet committed adultery and had another child with his mistress. Where is your hate and condemnation now?

This day is about COURAGE, the courage to stand up and stand out and let people know who you are and face the vile hate filled rhetoric from people like you and still have Pride in themselves and not be ashamed. This day is about PRIDE, being proud to be able to face the world and know that no matter how hard it is to put up with the injustices of our country, the violence against OUR community and the hate against us in which we read about, see and hear everyday we can still be proud of who we are. This day is about ACCEPTANCE, accepting ourselves as normal, wonderful and blessed people while accepting the world that tries so hard to knock us down, take away our rights and commit violence against us. And this day is about TOLERANCE, not tolerance for who we are but tolerance for who you have become. The ability to tolerate those who hate us and have no solid reasoning for it, the tolerance for those who spend millions of dollars to suppress or take away our rights instead of spending that money to help those who really need it. And for the tolerance to accept the discrimination, bigotry and hypocrisies that we face everyday because you cannot see beyond a few sentences in a book or beyond your own fear. We ask God every day to give us the strength to tolerate your hate and your bigotry and your shortcomings in order to help out those who need it, to give back to the community and to live our lives as we were given the right to live as was guaranteed in the US Constitution regardless of what you think.

Posted by: 2010focus | October 11, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

We all deserve to live in a world that accepts us and grants us full and equal rights as citizens, regardless of race ,creed, religion, sexual orientation,national origin , etc.
Paladino is a tea-bagger-right-wing nut.He is behind in the polls and is using gay bashing as a last desperate attempt to try to drum up votes.
God dose not hate homosexuals or think they are some how wrong- some people voice hate of homosexuals, treat them poorly and somehow think they can judge others and speak for God. These folks are most likely closet cases.....

Posted by: 10bestfan | October 11, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't mean anything to me since I'm not gay, and I'm already "out" with my straightness. It's a gay thing, so gay people have at it. I don't know what it means to gay people, but I've got no problem with it. It's America, and since I'm not an uptight republican who wants to tell everyone else how to live, I say go for it. Jimi Hendrix said "I'm the one who's got to die when it's time for me to die, so I'm going to live my life the way I want to." Amen brother. Be who you are and not who someone else wants you to be.

Posted by: red2million | October 11, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@rmccr The reason why we "feel the need" to be open about our sexuality is because of the fact that it is not accepted. Of course you're not going to go around saying you're straight because the reaction you would get would'nt be the same as if someone who was gay said they were a homosexual. I agree that your sexuality is a personal and private matter so then explain to me why so many people make it their business?

@whineridentifier. I agree that teen suicide of any type is unacceptable but when you say dont call people who disagree with their lifestyles bullies is very ignorant. If you simply came up to me and said you dont like the fact that i am gay thats fine with me. I really dont care. However, when you physically start hurting someone or constantly torment them because of the fact that they are gay that is completely different. That lends itself to bullying, hate crime, and violating a persons rights and privacy.

@dcsuburb. If you believe homosexuality isn't an "equally successful or valid option" that dont be a homosexual. Who gave you the right to determine what is right or wrong? Not everyone believes in God and even for the ones that do still believe that God loves all of his children NO MATTER what and HE.. yes HE will be the one to judge us in the end. NOT YOU!

Posted by: hsporek | October 11, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

What national coming out day means to me...

That i am able to be proud of a part of who i am, accept it and know that there is nothing wrong with it. That i am able to LOVE someone, as much as you can possibly LOVE someone, no matter who that person is!

Posted by: hsporek | October 11, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

What does "National Coiming Out Day" mean to Anderson Cooper?

Go ahead and ask him. I'll wait.

Posted by: cllr | October 11, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Homosexuality isn't "widely accepted" due to the blatantly obvious fact that it isn't normal behavior. Duh. It is in fact repugnant sick behavior. Duh again. But for now, this is still a "free" country (not really) so go ahead and "come out". Whatever.

Posted by: the4millerz | October 11, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Straight people don't advertise their sexuality by wearing wedding bands, talking about their lovers, speaking on their sex acts, putting pictures of family on their desk, asking for days off for sick kids and being openly affectionate in public and on TV. Get real.

Posted by: rcvinson64 | October 11, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

What National Coming Out Day means to me. Well, I will just say this. I believe in God the Father, Holy Spirit and Christ our Redeemer. I believe the Holy Bible is God's word inscribed by man. That Holy Word mentions 3 times in the Old Testament and 2 times in the New Testament that men being with men and women with women is an abomination. Basically, the orientation is an abomination. Nothing the Lord created is, the men and women that practice the act. It is the act. My two cents will be worth about that much to most reading this post.

Posted by: ajackson3 | October 11, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The NEED for coming out is clear, as long as defamation, marginalization and stigma continue, these are human nature reactions. It is to say i am here, equal, to be accepted, and with self-love and respect.

i am a herosexual person who understands "coming out." Once, the view carried was also why do gays need to advertise their sexual identity, and should be kept personal. At the same time, overt displays, overtures and come-ons are annoying, but this ocurs infrequently, and is generally innocuous.

My views, furthermore, have been shaped through my own health-status which is subject to great stigma. Heightened awareness shatters ignorence and dispells myth.

Posted by: solid3 | October 11, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Live from Los Angeles!!! As someone in the Hip-Hop and Lowrider culture I support the National Coming Out Day because HERE in America the majority culture still demonize US as Bad people! Women, Minorities, Gays, Lowriders, Hip-Hoppers, Punk Rockers need to support each other and stop criticizing one another with our differences. This is what America should be like the Irish for St. Patricks Day and the Italians for Columbus Day. For instance there was the LOWRIDER Super Show in Las Vegas yesterday which had a huge turnout of people but the media refused to cover it because it is not considered mainstream. Some people don't like this thinking because their version of America is everyone should be the same. When you look back at the history of America different ethnic and religious groups made substantial contributions to America where their identity is celebrated.

Posted by: big_bors | October 11, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I was fired once for being gay as a city worker. This in a considerably tolerant and progressive city here in Colorado. The man that represented the city (never worked directly for him - he was the overall boss) attempted to bring this up throughout the mediation. The things that he implied, characterized me for and accused me of were totally repudiated by reviews from direct managers. He simply did not like gay people and stated as such. As he was in charge, he felt entitled to bring in/fire whomever he wanted. WRONG! Ended up with a huge settlement but never got the mandated apology. He was subsequently fired.

Never felt the need to hide my orientation - from those who ask. If they do, they are genuinely interested. Others, I generally find they don't care or could never be persuaded to accept.

I've now been in a 15 year relationship and was married in Boston this Spring. Felt special and priviledged and made to feel good about our decision. Was married by the County Clerk and Justice of The Peace. Never thought I would see the day!

From my family I learned to never sell yourself short. Always accept others for their views - knowing their views may never mesh with your. Above all accepting yourself for who you are goes a long way in preventing others from making that determination of who you are.

Mr. Paladino - exclaiming a gay nephew as you being tolerant is far different than only seeing the extra difficulties he will endure in his life as you claim. What have YOU done to make it easier for him to gain acceptance and safety in society? Just saying you allow them to "be" is not enough when there are beatings and killings of gay people. Your lack of understanding is just as bad as those that want to keep gays in the closet and "hidden" in your limited world view.

Posted by: pv2bdrco | October 11, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"Why do gay people feel the need to tell everyone they are gay. Straight peiople do not."

Posted by: rmccr
----------------------------------------

The reason is because otherwise it would be assumed that I am straight, which I am not. Until our culture has the maturity to accept everyone and not make those assumptions, you'll just have to put up with it.

Posted by: kago | October 11, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

This has been a wonderful National Coming Out Day. My parents, family, friends, and coworkers have been so supportive of me and my partner of over eight years. We are both extremely lucky to have such wonderful family and friends and so much love in our lives.

This world is becoming a kinder, more just place. Time is on the side of the good guys. To those of you who are gay - you are perfect just the way god made you. You have nothing to hide or be shy about! Much peace and love to all of you, whether gay or straight! xoxo

Posted by: popkultur | October 11, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

While I am pleased that it gets easier for gay people like myself year by year, I am bothered by the negative comments here. First of all, if you're not gay, then you probably can't understand the anguish you feel growing up gay and feeling that you can't "be yourself." Living with the fear of being condemned by family and friends is a powerfully scary feeling to live with. Coming out is not about boasting or bragging, or being "in your face." It's more about accepting that you're gay - which is how God made you - and being comfortable enough to be yourself, regardless of the consequences - which there often are. That is a big step in the life of anyone, no matter how old or young.

As for bullying, it's all disgusting. But gay kids - or kids thought to be gay - are bullied far more often. Gay teens need to understand and know that IT GETS BETTER - MUCH!

If you're not gay, instead of looking at it from your own viewpoint, why not ask someone why coming out was important to them? Maybe you'll learn something new and gain a new appreciation for another human being. Jesus taught us to love one another - why not give it a try?

Posted by: mtropp5722 | October 11, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

10bestfan wrote, "God dose (sic) not...think they are some how wrong."

How do you know what God thinks? How does anyone know what God thinks? The only way you or anyone can know what God thinks is by what he tells us. And what does he tell us? We can read what he tells us through the writings of Paul, the apostle of Jesus Christ:

Romans 1:26-27
"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error."

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

1 Timothy 1:8-11
"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted."

Posted by: dcsuburb | October 11, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"What does National Coming Out Day mean to you?"

Nothing. I don't know why the gay and lesbian community feels the need to continuously draw attention to their "differentness". Who cares.

Posted by: dmahon | October 11, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Coming out and telling everyone, even people you don't know that you are gay is wrong...
tell your family and spare the rest of us...
we don't need to deal with you acceptance issues...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 11, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

by telling everyone, you draw a line...
then if you cross it, you cry about the consecuences...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 11, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

wow, it's difficult to know where to start...

first, by coming out, I get to contribute to conversations that all of my straight coworkers/friends have about their dates/hookups/spouses/kids instead of just answering questions like how was my weekend with, "nothing special". I want to be able to tell the people in my life about my life, and you can't do that without being "out".

somebody above put it very eleoquently- straight people advertise their sexuality all the time by talking about their girlfriends/boyfriends, public displays of affection, and simply having pictures of their family on their desks. I want to feel comfortable doing those same things.

and who gets to decide what's "normal"? just because that's what most people do? Many examples of homosexual behavior in dozens of species of animals exist. I don't think the little squirrel out back is choosing the "gay lifestyle"! Social Scientists generally agree that homosexuality is a naturally ocurring phenomenon. For whatever reason, I was created in a way such that I can only connect with other men, on physical AND emotional levels. And I'm told that God doesn't make mistakes.

The whole argument about the "bible condeming homosexuality" drives me crazy. Very few people exist (and I'm not one of them)that can accurately interpret the bible and understand the culture and context within which statements are made. But I have read up on this topic, and the statements often referenced do not condemn homesexuality, despite what the words literally say. you can't pick and choose which statements from the bible to take literally to serve you own narrow minded purposes.

that will do for now.

Posted by: tennisguydc | October 11, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

fr dcsuburb:

>...What does this day mean to me? It means my country has gone so far down the path away from God that we don't even know to be ashamed of our sins....<

Being GLBT is not a sin, and I'm a gay Christian woman who married my lovely WIFE two years ago.

However, bigotry and HOMOPHOBIA are sins, and I would also suggest that you read "Judge not, lest YE be judged" and "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Posted by: Alex511 | October 11, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm 43 and have now lived just over half of my life "out". I don't have children of my own, but I do have nephews and children of cousins and friends, and I'm saddened that so much remains to be done for gay kids in 2010. I survived high school, but it wasn't easy...apparently it still isn't. Homophobia is taught; and, if we're not actively fighting against this, we're helping it along.

Gaylings. Make way for them.

http://www.dranespout.com/2010/10/gaylings.html

Posted by: DraneSpout | October 11, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

What does it mean to you?
it means that i can be who i want to be and most important be who God made me to be. i have yet meet a gay men or women who woke up one day and wanted to be hated and not to be allowed to marry the person they love. when i took my American history i learned about "separation of church and state", "all men are created equal". back in history black males were not allowed to marry white women because some thought it was wrong. please read First John 4:8-9 ( if your a Christian learn to love. i believe 100% of all religions are taught to love not hate. again this means that i can be who God made me to be and be happy with my self..

Posted by: betwo20008 | October 11, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Here is the sophistry of the maladjusted mind that would justify its pursuit of its own lusts...

tennisguydc writes,

"Very few people exist (and I'm not one of them)that can accurately interpret the bible and understand the culture and context within which statements are made."

Okay, so you say you can't accurately interpret the Bible.

But then you say...

"But I have read up on this topic, and the statements often referenced do not condemn homesexuality (sic)..."

Oh, so even though you have already told us you can't interpret the Bible, you have nonetheless offered your interpretation of the Bible.

And then to make matters worse, you say,

"...despite what the words literally say. you can't pick and choose which statements from the bible to take literally to serve you own narrow minded purposes."

So you now tell us that while you aren't one who is able to interpret the Bible, your interpretation is that it doesn't mean what it seems to say.

Interesting.

Posted by: dcsuburb | October 11, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I feel very sorry for you, "dcsuburb."

The message of God's love that you claim to speak on behalf of, has entirely eluded you.

There's still time to change though. You can start loving and stop hating TODAY. You'll feel much better once you do!

Posted by: popkultur | October 11, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Dear popkultur,

The message of God's love that you claim to represent has entirely eluded you.

The apostle John wrote, "This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." (1 John 5:3)

Jesus said, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (John 15:10)

John said, "Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected." (1 John 2:5)

Posted by: dcsuburb | October 11, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Ok call me crazy but I don't understand why people have to ask why people need to come out. Many people have said that they don't go around telling people they are straight, so why should people go around telling them they are gay? Well you dont have to hide the fact that you are straight. Gay people unfortunatly still have to hide the fact that they are gay, its not accepted nation wide yet. That day will come, it has to, or I don't feel there is much hope for the human race. How would you feel if you had to get every morning and hide what you really are, what defines you as a person, what makes you, you. I would literally make you sick having to pretend you are something you're not. So please think about that the next time you ask "why do people have to tell me they are gay". Most of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with you.

Posted by: hpqueen | October 11, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

for dcsuburb... I should have phrased my statements better- I did not intend to offer my interpretation- like I said, I'm not an expert. What I have offered is the opinion of several highly respected biblical scholars who have provided thoughtful critiques of bible literalists. And while you may disagree with their interpretations, the fact remains that the bible is a very complex document that requires a tremendous amount of knowledge to truly read in a thoughtful manner.

And I stand by my claim that literal statements from the bible have been taken out of context over the years to subjugate minorities, women and gays.

but this discussion is off topic and distracts from the fact that I came out because I wanted to be honest about who I am with the important people in my life, including friends, family and coworkers. You can believe it's a choice, or think it's morally wrong, but I don't really care what you think. I know who I am, and so do the important people in my life- and my friendships and relationships with family members have become stronger because of it.

Posted by: tennisguydc | October 11, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

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