Just recently, I met someone who was telling me it was too hard to tell her fifteen year old daughter she was gay, so she was just ‘letting her daughter get to know her partner first’ – yes, well, that’ll help the daughter to know that honesty and being up-front is valuable in her life. I met someone else who told me ‘everyone knows’ she’s gay, except her Great-Gran. Great-Gran would be delighted to know she doesn’t count as ‘everyone’, I’m sure. And, of course, we all know those who are successful in their careers and doing really well who don’t want to rock any boats …
Because actually, I do want to rock some boats. I do want to say – stop it! Get over yourselves! Take some responsibility and get on with it.
I know a brilliant 19-year-old who is out at college and living with her girlfriend and whose dad says part of her ease with her sexuality is to do with her knowing Shelley and I. (Which means, of course, that part of her ease with her sexuality is because we were out and her parents were out about us, and NONE OF US, even when she was much younger, behaved as if this whole gay thing is a problem. Which now enables her to live her own life on her own terms, making a difference in other people’s lives.)
Because it isn’t actually a problem for most of us in (most of) the West at this end of the 21st century, not a real problem, if we don’t buy into the secrecy and the lying and hiding and the untruths. (And yes, I do think omission is the same as commission.)
There are though, many places where it really is hard to be gay. Impossible. Illegal. Punishable by death.
And I am sick of making it better for other people. Tired of my actions and my honesty and my openness slowly but surely making it safer for other people to come out. It wasn’t easy for me and it wasn’t easy for anyone else I know, there are still times on a regular basis when it still isn’t easy, so why the hell do those of you who aren’t out get to wait until we’ve fixed it all for you?
I am really tired of my straight friends who’ve had one or two gay experiences not being out about them. (And enormously proud of my straight friend who has happily told her teenage daughters about her women lovers from the past.)
Mostly, I am tired of having to carry the burden* so that other people will have it better later on. Those other people who don’t have the courage to step up now.
No, it isn’t easy. But if we don’t, who will? If we don’t all take responsibility to make it better here, wherever we are in the relatively lucky West, then how are we ever going to make things better for our friends in those places where simply loving who you love is illegal/immoral/wicked?
We were born here by mere chance, we have the opportunity to make things better by choice.
So … here’s a thing :
if ‘everyone’ but your mother, father, sister, nana, grandad, boss, daughter, son, cousin, aunty, uncle, preacher, rabbi, imam, sensei, leader, teacher – you fill in the gap – if ‘everyone’ BUT them knows you’re out … then you’re not out. (And what on earth did they do to not deserve your honesty?)
* and I do it in a truly tiny way, I know this, there are so very many people working far harder to make things better day in day out than I am