October 11th marks National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate coming out and to encourage more awareness and discussion of LGBT rights and issues. Whether you’re gay, straight, bi, transgender, or questioning, this is an important day to let our LGBT friends and relatives know that they are not alone.
Stephen Fry (British author, comedian, activist, polymath Renaissance man who also happens to be gay) tweeted a link to this article on the Huffington Post. Written by Elton John and Johann Hari, it is a plea for people to fight back against the horrific injustice and appalling treatment that the LGBT community has to face throughout the world. It is a sobering read, detailing startling atrocities conducted against LGBT people in Uganda and Ghana, and the narrow-minded prejudice of American political candidates who continue to endorse homophobia without fear of recrimination.
Despite these horrors, there is also hope. The article very interestingly puts forward the case that you can’t generalize who is homophobic. People might say poor countries disdain their LGBT citizens, but Nepal has introduced legislation to protect gay rights. Others argue that religious countries could never support homosexuals, but Argentina, despite being a largely Catholic country, has legalized gay marriage. We are often inundated with stories of the desperate plight of the LGBT community, who face bullying, social ostracism, imprisonment, and murder. But these examples from Nepal and Argentina illustrate that people can grow and realize that this is no way to treat other human beings. In fact, as Elton John mentions in the article, when he was born in England, it was a crime to be gay, but now he is happily married to his partner and can raise his son with relative acceptance.
The quote that most touched my heart was from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.” With such champions for LGBT rights in our corner, it behooves us to take a stand against discrimination and homophobia. This is where Kaleidoscope come in. This organization has been set up in London and has the single purpose of supporting gay people anywhere in the globe, in any way that they need. Read the Huffington Post article or go to Kaleidoscope’s website to get more details, but essentially they aim to use the full force of the international community to fight back against incidents of homophobia and inequality. If you have been searching for some way to help the LGBT community, supporting Kaleidoscope is a wonderful way to have an impact not just in your own community but internationally. Maybe if enough people declare themselves as proud allies of the LGBT movement, we will build enough momentum to fight this backward thinking and prejudice that has no place in our world today.
On a personal note, National Coming Out Day always reminds me of the e-mail thread that used to be posted on the Wellesley College Community group every October 11th: “I support my queer Wellesley siblings because…” The thread would be filled with messages of support and acceptance, posted by students and faculty alike. I never posted on this thread because I never felt like I had anything adequate to say to express my admiration and love for my LGBT friends. I still don’t feel I can adequately express myself, so I will rely on the oft-used but always true sentiment that best summarizes why NCOD and LGBT rights are so important: Love is love is love.