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Comment: National Coming Out Day is still important because we have a long way to go

October 12, 2014

PinkNews.co.uk reader Andrew Doughty, aged 17, celebrates National Coming Out Day.

October 11 marks ‘National Coming Out Day’. The date signifies a celebration of ones self, of LGBT people being able to liberate themselves and say ‘I am who I am.’ Those of us who have left the closest will be able to reflect upon the day we ourselves chose to open up to those who matter.

And yet despite all this, I know of a few people claiming “A national coming out day is stupid…Why should people have to come out!?”

As a gay man myself I can remember being sat in my room in my early teens wondering how I’d ever be able to live as someone ‘gay’; sometimes I’d find myself consumed, I’d no longer be ‘Andy’… I’d be ‘gay Andy’.

Of course that kind of thinking was something which was the fault of my own insecurity.

But even to allow myself to reach that point, something must have been wrong with my impression of LGBT people.

To those of you who question the need for a National Coming Out Day I ask you, if you could go back to the young you, sat in a dark room in dire need of some sort of inspiration – would you rather have a day where you’re able to see so many people proclaim “I’m LGBT and normal” or the alternative – solitude and paranoia built by your mind?

Arguably ‘Coming Out’ shouldn’t even be a thing in 2014. But we’re not in an ideal world just yet, 14 year old Andy took solace from seeing celebrities and people in public positions come out. It made me feel normal. It made me feel like I could be more than just ‘gay Andy’.

So just because I’m out and see sexuality as something small, I refuse to buy into the idea that days like today aren’t needed; why should other teenagers who are confused, who are sat in a room like I was, questioning everything about themselves, have to suffer?

We have a long way to go, from improved sexual education, fairer representation of transgender people in the media and even attitudes amongst gay men.

It’s all fine and dandy for us to say everything is perfect, but even I’m witness to attitudes such as “I’m so glad you’re not one of those ‘really gay’ guys!” or perhaps from gay men themselves “Yeah I’m not one of ‘those’ gays… I’m not camp.” As if being camp is something one should be ashamed of.

Let’s not forget, most of us speak from a privileged position. LGBT rights are non-existent in countries all over the globe and thousands, if not millions of people face persecution in the 81 countries where being gay is still a crime.

Coming out isn’t just a local, or even national show of solidarity – it’s global.

Will attitudes change without action? Of course not! So I say… Come out, be that role model for the young teen, or the married man, or the student, or the checkout man in your local Asda. “We’re here, we’re queer. Get used to it!”

To anyone coming out today; or considering it I’d wish to tell you. I’m a gay man and to quote Klaus Wowereit (Mayor of Berlin) “I’m gay and that’s OK.”

And it’ll be OK for you too.

This article was first published in Sixth Sense Magazine.

As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.

More: coming out, England, Equality, Gay, lesbian, national coming out day

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