Keeping Families Together
The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog
January 6, 2012
Can You Be Told That You Must Come Out?
By BELINDA AND JOHN DRONKERS-LAURETA
An article caught our attention. Titled Why is Recommended to Come Out if You’re Gay (yes, we think the word “it” should be inserted in the title) it is written, as best as we can determine, by a straight ally. It gives reasons why LGBT people should come out.
In a previous blog, we mentioned our workshops on coming out. During those workshops we explain why it is difficult to come out and suggest strategies to help in coming out. We also devote a section on the advantages and disadvantages of coming out, because not coming out is an option chosen by quite a number of LGBT people. We are convinced that the actual decision to come out or not is so intensely personal that we would never recommend one course of action over the other. That is why the article caught our attention, it is foursquare for coming out and that is contrary to what we counsel.
Don’t Go With The Article’s Advice. Develop Your Own.
If you have an opportunity, read the article. At first reading, there is certain logic to the argument, but upon reflection the logic goes away. The article is filled with platitudes that sound helpful but really are not. For example: “Once you come out, you will be more able to live your life to the fullest.” What does it mean to live life to the fullest? Do non-LGBT people live life to the fullest? How about: “Once you’re older and out of school, believe me it becomes much easier [to come out].” We know that is false. The obstacles, real or perceived it does not matter, change as one becomes older, but coming out does not become easier.
The article states: “If people around you have trouble with who you are, then that is their problem.” Look around and observe the violence committed against LGBT people. Pay attention to the debates among the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination. We have seen, read, and heard testimony sufficient to know that when people around you have trouble with who you are, they can hurt you and that makes the people around you your problem. Many considerations go into a decision to come out among those personal safety is paramount.
Still, the article does get one thing right. Before you come out, develop a support system of friends and allies. Create a space where you are safe. To do that, however, you must first feel good about yourself.
LGBT Allies Are Just That, They Are Not LGBT
The problem with us allies is that we ourselves are not LGBT and will never really know the anguish and apprehension of revealing a sexual orientation and identity that is so at odds with prevailing norms as to cause violent reactions among people. We may come close to knowing what it is like through our work and friends, but it is difficult to really know. As parents of LGBT children, we have our own special anguish and apprehension for their safety and the opportunities and rights denied them, opportunities and rights granted to others as a matter of course, but our anguish and apprehension are not the same as those of our LGBT children.
We know that logic has a relatively small role in the struggle for acceptance and respect. There is no logic in the denial of rights, there is no logic in religion’s opposition, in fact, much of the latter’s arguments can be shown to be false. But it does not matter, we are not in logic-land, we are in emotion-land.
Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride www.apifamilypride.org