“Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.” – Adrienne Maree Brown
Today, October 11, is National Coming Out Day. On October 11, 1987, half a million people marched on Washington for LGBTQIA+ rights. In the midst of a climate where being LGBTQIA+ made someone a target of discriminatory legislation and rejection from their family and place of worship, people’s willingness to march publicly was a way of claiming their identities. National Coming Out Day was started in 1988, on the first anniversary of the march, as a way of celebrating proactively and intentionally, becoming visible. Coming out is an act of claiming one’s identity as beautiful and beloved, and making visible that which had been previously unseen.
Despite the gains for LGBTQIA+ people in the 30 years since that first National Coming Out Day, there is still much work to do. Just last week, a transgender student was segregated from her classmates and forced to sit alone during an active shooter drill, and the Trump Administration announced they are halting visas to non-married partners of diplomats to the U.S., creating a potential for serious hazards at home for diplomats from countries where same-sex marriage is still illegal.
For many, there is a feeling that things are getting worse, that the optimism we allowed ourselves to feel in the gains of the last decade was futile and misplaced. In the midst of turmoil and societal anxiety that feels at times like it is pulling every drop of hope from our lives, Adrienne Maree Brown’s quote is a much needed balm for those of us working together to create a better world. The world is not getting worse; we have simply avoided our systemic wounds for too long. We are now charged with the painful and liberating task of continuing to uncover that which has been hidden, to reveal the parts of ourselves we have avoided and, in doing so, to work together to heal.
Just as there is no right or wrong way to be LGBTQIA+, there is no one way to come out – sometimes simply uttering to one’s self can be the most liberating act a person will ever experience. Coming out is a call for people to share a part of themselves that has previously been unseen – a pulling back of the veil to reveal that which was hidden. It is an act of creating community and solidarity, particularly with those who, for so many reasons, are not able to come out themselves. Coming out is a life-giving act of claiming of one’s self in the midst of a world where the prevailing narrative is death-dealing – it is a bold proclamation that we are here and that our stories matter, a refusal to be invisible. It is an invitation to bring people along the journey with us, to invite them into our individual stories as part of our collective story.
We at More Light strongly believe that our role is to offer a voice of hope that is willing to look at the way things are, while maintaining focus on the way things should be. We believe sharing who we are with others is an invitation to mutual vulnerability and collective healing. On this National Coming Out Day, we invite you to share a part of your story you’d previously kept hidden. Even if only in a whispered prayer, speak your truth out into the world, and know that you are among a mighty chorus.