Monday, October 11, 2010

Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are

Today is National Coming Out Day, and I'm a bit torn by this. First, I am happy that we have a day devoted to such an important milestone in the lives of our friends and loved ones. But then I'm also disappointed, and a bit ashamed of us, that we have to have a day for it. Shouldn't our GLBT friends feel loved and accepted for who they are every day of the year? Shouldn't they be able to come forward without prejudice when they are ready, and shouldn't we, as a society, embrace them?

It saddens me that so many of our citizens are intolerant and/or afraid of 10% of our population, and I wonder why that is. No, it isn't because of God. And if I hear one more narrow-minded talking point about loving the sinner and hating the sin, you're going to need some towels to wipe up the mess that will come from my head exploding.

Now, some people may argue that this is human nature, this notion that love is and can only be between a man and a woman, that marriage and family is only husband and wife. But I do not believe that. And, what's more, I actually have something to support that.

You see, I'm what you may call the black sheep of my family, and if nothing else, I'm certainly the most liberal. And sometimes it seems I'm the only liberal. I love my family, but I don't always agree with them. I was also raised Church of Christ, and being me, one can see how that easily explains my special brand of crazy. But I digress. My cousin, who is 15 now (and don't think that makes me feel young because it certainly does not), was about 5 years old when my sister went to college. She and a friend from church were going to be roommates, and when my then 5-year-old cousin found out that were going to be living together, he asked if they were getting married.

Why did he ask that? Well, my theory is that, in his mind, when adults lived together, they were married. All the adults he knew who lived together were, and it only made sense to him that if my sister were sharing a residence with someone, they must be married, too. It's probably the same reason my other cousin, when she was about 2, called my high school boyfriend "Daddy" - every adult male in her life was called "Daddy" by someone.

My point is this - we aren't born with prejudice. It is learned, developed, cultivated, in the home and in the community. The proverb that it takes a village to raise a child certainly holds truth. If I were to ask my cousin today what he thinks about same-sex marriage, he would probably be opposed to it. So what changed? The village.

If you have children, or if you are thinking of having them, then please consider this: How many people are really raising your child? The scout leader, the Sunday school teacher, the school teacher, the babysitter, the families of their friends, the list goes on and on.

Be prepared to have that conversation with your child when it comes up. When you're at the park and two men are holding hands, think twice before calling someone a "fag" or muttering how "disgusting" it is, or how they shouldn't be "flaunting" their sexuality. Do you think men and women holding hands are flaunting their sexuality? What's the difference really?

And for those of you who are afraid that if you have a gay friend he or she will try to hit on you, relax. You are not that undesirable. Does every straight man or woman hit on you? I didn't think so.

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