‘Coming Out’ for National Coming Out Day

rick-peters-left-and-alden-peters-right-in-coming-out-courtesy-of-wolfe-videoAlden Peters is a typical young closeted gay man. He’s been coping with his sexuality — or more directly, hiding it — his entire life. Then, when Princeton student Tyler Clementi commits suicide after being outed, Peters realizes that could have easily been him. So he decides it’s time to tell the people in his life. And being a millennial with a camera, he decides to do it on film.

The 2015 documentary Coming Out, now available from Wolfe Video, tracks Peters’ process — first telling his older brother, then his friends, his mom and stepdad, and finally his dad and younger siblings … all with the camera rolling.

What’s distinctive about Coming Out is how ordinary and undistinctive it is. Peters hand-wrings about what kind of reaction he’ll get, especially from his parents. Will they be shocked? Hate him? Reject him? But first and foremost, they love him. And seeing that love manifest itself in the most prosaic of ways — “That’s cool, son,” a hug, even an awkward conversation with a younger brother who thinks doesn’t “act gay” — have played out for most of us in nearly identical ways across the years.

dvd-cover-coming-out-courtesy-of-wolfe-videoOf course, there are much worse stories of rejection, even violence. Not all coming out processes are as smooth and supportive. But the message is, and should be, that even the “bad” coming outs are ultimately positive experiences for the one coming out. Admitting who you are — not just to others, but to one’s self — is an important, even necessary step toward long-term happiness and acceptance. It’s one reason why gay people refer to each other as “family” — because even when our blood relatives aren’t there for us, there’s an entire chosen family anxious to step in. Even today, coming out can be difficult. But it’s also amazingly important — psychologically, emotionally, politically, socially.

Think about all that when you watch Coming Out, and remember that today, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day, a date once each year that says, “Why not come out now? You’ll feel better about yourself.” But that’s not an excuse to wait until next year if you don’t today. There’s no wrong time to come out … whether one-on-one to your mom or on film for the whole world to see.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This is what National Coming Out Day was meant for

WWIn case you missed it, Sunday, Oct. 11 was National Coming Out Day — the day designated for giving folks in the closet a kind of permission to tell people they care about that they are members of the LGBT community. It’s a great idea — after all, there’s strength in numbers, right, so why not come out on a day you can point to countless other folks being upfront about their sexuality?

Of course, for many of us, coming out happened long ago, and we can forget what it was like to become so self-possessed as to tell someone who we are. So what about telling thousands of people?

Our friend Israel Luna knows one such guy — Walker Williams. Walker is from Israel’s hometown of Wellington, Texas, and this weekend he wrote a piece for the Amarillo Globe-News, in which he explained the confusion, fear, concern and even depression associated with hiding in the closet. Especially when you’re a star athlete.

Here is Walker’s story (as told to reporter Terrence Hunley). It’s an inspiring piece, and one that may strike many as very familiar.

Congrats, Walker! We’re proud of you. You’re toaster oven will be shipped to you soon.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Equality Texas encourages LGBT people to come out to their legislators

Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day but Equality Texas has named the day, “Come Out to Your Lawmaker Day.”

Equality Texas field organizer Daniel Williams said it’s not enough just to come out to your parents, employers or hairdresser. He said this year it’s important to come out to your lawmakers.

Here’s what Williams says to do:

Step 1: Go to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us and look up your state representative and senator
Step 2: Call them and tell them that as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender Texan, or as an ally to the LGBT community you want them to support LGBT legislation
Step 3: Tell your friends to do the same
Step 4: Let us know how your call went by e-mailing comingout@equalitytexas.org

Below is a video of Williams calling his state representative Garnet Coleman of Houston who’s been a big ally of the LGBT community. While it’s important to let allies know you live in their district, it’s even more important to let those who vote against the LGBT community know you’re from their districts.

Want to know more about National Coming Out Day? The Human Rights Campaign tells the history of the event that commemorates the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

—  David Taffet