Deborah Goldstein blogs at "Peaches and Coconuts."
It’s National Coming Out Day! You may commence with your cheers, applause and wootage. I never forget this day because I never stop coming out. While other people may find the act of coming out to be liberating and fun, I always stammer and shvitz a bit wondering how the information I’m about to reveal will sit with the parent, coworker or 6 year old at the bus stop.
6 Year Old: Where is Levi’s dad?
Deborah: Levi doesn’t have a dad. He’s got 2 moms.
6YO: What do you mean he doesn’t have a dad? How can he be here without a mom and a dad?
Wait, you are 6. Are you telling me that you are confused because you have only ever been exposed to families with a mom and a dad and that you own not one Todd Parr book, or are you asking me about the biological possibility of producing without a father? It’s not unusual to find that 6 or 5 or even 4 year old whose parents have shared with them the secrets of procreation, so I am unsure how I am to proceed.
The 6 year old has walked to the bus stop with a neighbor parent, and his parent is not present. There is no one who can guide my response, and all the other grown ups stand silently grateful not to have to field the question.
D: There are lots of kinds of families and lots of ways of making a family.
5 Year Old Standing Nearby: EEEEWWWW!! Look at that dog poop!
6YO: Wha? Where? AAAAWWWWW! That's DIS - GUS - TING !!
Saved by poop.
If you’ve never had to come out before, I recommend you do it on this day. No, I’m not suggesting you are a closeted gay (not to your face, anyway). I’m saying come out with something that might make you feel a bit, well, queer to admit – something potentially awkward...though not illegal.
For example, I don’t like cheese. There I said it. I can’t help it, of course, that I don’t like cheese. I was born that way. Yet, when I make that particular confession, I’m often met with twisted faces of people who are confused or horrified or sorry for me. It’s possible that I’ve ruined our friendship, yours and mine, and that you’d refuse to invite me to your house for dinner because you cannot fathom a meal without cheese. I might say to you, “You know, they hate cheese in China,” but you are not impressed and decide that you would much rather spend time with a pound of Morbier than 15 minutes with me. Does it get better? I ask myself. Does it?
I am making light of something heavy. Obviously, we can’t compare an awkward moment at a dinner party discussing how revolting it is to eat curdled, molded milk to coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community. As long as there are children who are bullied, kids thrown out of homes, people jailed or beaten or discriminated against for their sexuality or gender identification, there is a need for those of us who are safe to come out, be visible and pave the way. We come out to say that there are many of us in all walks of life, and you can like it or lump it. Of course, we’d prefer that you like it. It’s just happier that way.