My personal definition of coming out

October 11 marks the 27th year of National Coming Out Day. (NCOD logo by Keith Haring)

by Bruce Hartley
Life Columnist

In honor of LGBT History month, I find it fitting to discuss National Coming Out Day 2015 in my article this month. October 11 marks the 27th year of National Coming Out Day. 2015 has been an amazing year for LGBTQ people and it will be exciting to hear who will come out next in our personal circles and in the media.

For me, coming out to my family and friends happened without much fanfare. I thought simply being honest and open with my family, friends and others about my preference for men was the definition of coming out. I was lucky and the majority of my family and friends have been accepting and loving. Yes, there were a few others who didn’t live up to my hope of acceptance, but only a few.

Recently I realized that coming out means something different to every individual. I was surprised to hear about a friend saying he “was out” when I didn’t know he was officially out. I had never seen him and his partner hold hands or hug in public at restaurants and group gatherings. He explained that he and his partner of 30 years don’t have to show off their gayness to be officially out. He said they didn’t have to get married to prove they were gay and that everyone around him knew he and his partner were a couple.

I found that interesting as I thought about my personal definition of coming out.

This made me think deeper on the topic of “coming out.” We all have our individual thoughts and feelings that allow us to define words and phrases. Coming out should be a personal thing and if we want to celebrate it with fanfare we should be able to do so. If people want to come out in a personal way, that is equally fine.

Our world is becoming a more accepting place and it’s exciting that we can celebrate our individuality as we see fit. I have to remind myself that there are people who are “out in their own way” and they have the right to celebrate as they want privately or publicly. I am happy for my friend who has had the same partner for 30 years. That is an accomplishment for any couple.

Together, we can celebrate National Coming Out Day 2015 and know we are part of LGBTQ history in the making. I challenge everyone to show tolerance for everyone they encounter, whether straight or LGBTQ. We must support and encourage each other as we walk down this road and make LGBTQ history.

We have come a long way and we have a long way to go as we work together to have equality in all aspects of our lives.

The Gayly – October 10, 2015 @ 1:20pm.