On this 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day, Let Us “Come Out" for LGBTQ Equality and Inclusion
Thursday, October 11th is National Coming Out Day!
Thirty years ago queer people began celebrating National Coming Out Day on the one-year anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Their goal was simply to celebrate our inherit worth and dignity before the nation and the world by living their truth as the most potent form of activism.
The year was 1988. The HIV/AIDS crisis was on the rise. Gay men were being buried by surviving families ashamed of their diagnosis and ignorant of their sexuality. The queer liberation movement, aligned with ACT UP, heralded the mantra “Silence = Death.” The immediate implication was that President Reagan’s silence about the AIDS epidemic was killing hundreds of thousands, but the broader truth was and still is that silence is death for anyone living with shame and fear of telling the truth about who they are.
According the Human Rights Campaign, 1 out of every 2 Americans have someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is 1 in 10. When people know someone who is LGBTQ+, they are more likely to support LGBTQ+ equality. Yet, in this post-marriage equality era, HIV/AIDS is on the rise among black men who have sex with men and the reported murders of trans women of color reached an all time high in 2017.
After years of courageous queer people sharing our stories and living out loud, it’s time for religious institutions to “come out” more boldly in support of LGBTQ+ equality. Trans/non-binary persons lack the agency needed to dismantle the gender binary and are constantly burdened with the labor of arguing their existence. Gays and lesbians who choose to become parents are faced with barriers to adoption. Queer youth are still being forced to undergo conversion therapy and are outed by teachers who disclose their sexuality to unsympathetic parents. In nearly every state, anti-LGBTQ legislation is jeopardizing employment, health care, and public services to LGBTQ+ Americans.
On this 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day, rather than retelling our courageous stories as queers individual, let us recommit our institutional support as a community of Unitarian Universalists to "come out" again and again in our support of the LGBTQ persons everywhere.
- This year the UUA is launching our new Welcoming Congregations Five Pillars of Welcoming Renewal. Will you “come out” by committing to practice the Five Pillars of Welcome Renewal in your congregation?
- The UUA has signed on the YES ON 3 to uphold dignity and respect for our transgender neighbors. Will you “come out” by signing on to YES ON 3 in Massachusetts or similar legislation in your state?
- Our collective of trans Unitarian Universalist religious professionals (TRUUsT) are planning their third retreat. Will you “come out” by giving generously to show your support?
- The Transforming Hearts Collective has launched their new "Trans Inclusion in Congregations" six-session online course. Will you “come out” by enrolling your congregation in this groundbreaking series of transformation.
- ACLU-Missouri has created a “Trans Ally Toolkit” to serve as a community-backed action guide for cultivating a Missouri that is safe and welcoming for all genders. Will you “come out” and commit to apply the tools that equip your congregation and community to dismantle the gender binary?
- UU seminarian, Sam Ames, who is Interim Executive Director of Trans Lifeline is raising funds to prevent suicide and offer direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis. Will you “come out” and give generously to Trans Lifeline?
- Everyone must “come out” by telling Congress to pass the Equality Act NOW!
On this 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day, let us “come out“ in support of our sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, neighbors and friends courageously living their truth by committing to act in solidarity and give generously to causes affirming our inherit worth and dignity.
May it be so.