Come Out Come Out Whoever You Are!
October is International Coming Out Month. And October 11th is National Coming Out Day. It was started by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in 1988 recognize and celebrate the first anniversary of the first gay march on Washington, which took place October 11, 1987.
Since its inception, National Coming Out Day has become an opportunity for queer people to come out to their friends, family and co-workers. It’s not a rule, but simply a reminder that you are not alone and that coming out is a process that some people leap into while others take baby steps.
My coming out process began when I was 19 and took decades to complete.
My coming out process took much more than a day. I initially came out when I was 19, way back in 1982. The first people I told were a couple of friends I’d known since high school. They were very accepting and – considering the times – took the news with open arms. I was very lucky.
Part of what made it easier for me to start the process was the fact I was involved with a great youth group at Toronto’s 519 Church Street Community Centre. The 519 has long been the queer community’s cultural, social and political touchstone. My years in Lesbian and Gay Youth Toronto have me a safe haven to realize my sexual identity with a supportive peer group and not just fumble through the bar scene.
I was outed to my mother, at the tender age of 41.
Over the years I was quite out to friends and colleagues – but not my family. I had told my brother when I was in my late 20s but felt I could not come out to my parents. That changed with the death of my father, to whom I regrettably never had the chance to come out. His death changed our little family dynamic and eventually I was outed to my mother, at the tender age of 41.
At first I was mortified. I felt exposed, afraid and vulnerable. The façade I had constructed was suddenly pulled down – and it wasn’t my doing. After a few conversations with my mom, I realized she was much more accepting than I ever imagined. She had to go through her own “coming out” process, finally knowing who her son really was. It was the best thing that could ever have happened and we are closer now than ever.
Coming out helps us feel like complete human beings.
It took years for me to complete the circle in my coming out process, but it was the thing that could have happened to me. It helped me feel more complete as a human being, no longer living two lives, and it opened me up to having deeper and more meaningful relationships.
There is no right or wrong time for someone to reveal their sexuality and it’s important to remember that while you may be out and proud since you were knee-high to a drag queen, your queer peers may need to take it slow. What’s most important is for all of us to feel safe, secure, loved and accepted along the way.
Andrew Vail’s writing career began in Halifax when he was but a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites.
Tags: 519 Church Street Community Centre
, Andrew Vail
, International Coming Out Month
, Jean O'Leary
, Lesbian and Gay Youth Toronto
, National Coming Out Day