How out are you?

National Coming Out Day is tomorrow, October 11.

by Dustin Woods
Visionary Columnist

October marks my favorite LGBT+ day; National Coming Out Day. This year I feel the need to make an impassioned plea for those who dare to come out to make sure they do so completely.

According to a Human Rights Campaign study, 53 percent of employees in the U.S. are not out at work.

For those who are not out at work but are out to others in their lives, it is like saying being gay is important to me socially but not professionally. You may not be comfortable being in the closet when it comes to being romantic with your partner or honest about who your love interest is to those around you, but you are perfectly fine hiding an aspect of yourself to retain your financial status and hopefully obtain a higher one. 

Although many may see it as an obvious choice to stay in the closet at work considering how many states lack protections for LGBT+ employees, staying in the closet at work is not true in the interest of any person. Besides that, you are lying to yourself and your employer.

Staying in the closet at work is tantamount to saying that homosexuals aren't good enough to fulfill the position.  As a part of the LGBT+ community, we have a responsibility to represent ourselves, to show everyone we are just the same as and as good as anyone else in the world.

By hiding their true selves in the professional environment those in the work closet are being a detriment to our community by showing that it is alright, if not easy, to discriminate against us because we won't even stick up for ourselves enough to be our authentic selves. 

Considering that a majority of those surveyed said they aren't out of the closet at work, it seems obvious that we have a long way to go before people feel comfortable enough to be their authentic selves in their professional environments.

But we won't be able to eliminate employment discrimination until some courageous homosexuals have confronted it and pushed for it to become illegal in all fifty states. It would be easier for those outspoken LGBT+ community members to fight for all our rights if our employers understood how many of their workers were being impacted by managerial decisions to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Imagine, if you can, a world where we no longer fear negative repercussions to our professional lives because of the gender of the person we love or because of our own gender identity. We can live in this world if we only work hard enough to obtain equality, and we can't have this equality if we stay hidden in the closet cowering in the dark.

This October 11 is National Coming Out Day, and I ask you to genuinely consider coming out of the work closet if you haven't already. Let's progress the LGBT+ agenda and continue a long journey to eradicating employment discrimination for our community by being our authentic selves in every aspect of our lives.

Editor’s note: In Dustin Woods September column, he referred to his great-grandfather using "Four Score years ago…” channeling Lincoln's four score and seven from the Gettysburg Address. However, The Gayly editor in chief edited that to "320 years ago my great grandfather…".  A score is 20, so 20 x 4 would be 80 years ago. The Gayly apologizes for that miscalculation, and for making great grandfather a lot older than he was! Thanks for correcting us on that, Dustin.

Copyright The Gayly – October 10, 2018 @ 9:40 a.m. CDT.