A good friend called me yesterday to tell me about an amazing experience she had with her father. They were talking about being out and she told him that being gay is not the only part of her identity, but it is important to be out. He asked why, and she said that it's important in order to give people like him perspective, because then it's not just this other group of people who can't get married or join the military, or this other group of people who get bullied at school for being who they are. It's your kid, friend, neighbor, or coworker.
Her dad said he never thought about it that way. And, truth be told, I hadn't really either. Not in depth. It's important to be out.
This is not to say that EVERYONE should be out. There are some situations where it is unsafe for someone to come out as LGB or T, but in those situations where it is safe, it's important to be out.
Out and Active.
When people have no perspective on "this other group" that does not have these rights, it's easily othered and forgotten, even for those with the best intentions. However, when this "other group" becomes a group that includes your friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker, or classmate, they are no longer that forgotten group of people.
Because being LGBT is not readily identifiable, as say being a person of color is, anyone could know someone in the LGBT community and not realize it. That's why it's important for those of us with the privilege of being able to be out should be out, and active, and loud. How can you fight for your rights when no one knows what you're fighting for, or why?
This goes for Allies as well. It can be hard to come out as an ally, but it's equally as, if not more, important to be out and loud as an ally. (More on this in later posts.)
It's that easy, just come out if you are in a safe situation to do so. Look at all the changes that can make.