This last week was National Coming Out week.
It is a week that mashes my hot buttons for a variety of reasons.
The main reason?
No one should need a week to tell them it’s okay to “come out”.
If someone is gay/bi/trans (and all of the other descriptions I can’t remember), so what? They are who they are.
Coming out should be about as earth shattering as “I put jam instead butter of my toast.”
I don’t like jam. Never have. But if someone else does or wants to sprinkle some sugar on top, why should I care?
It’s none of my business.
Your church/employer/parent should weight your sexual preference with the same importance as “I pee every morning when I wake up.”
The world isn’t there yet.
Too many people were taught to hate or look down on those who are different from a young age.
It needs to stop.
One year ago I posted what happened when Bobbi was inadvertently outed by a loophole in group privacy settings on facebook.
Did it matter to me?
No. She was already out to me.
The person it mattered to was her father.
Who went ballistic.
He was one of those who was taught to hate those who were different. To fear it.
The fallout from this one seemingly innocuous event was far greater than I could have imagined at the time of the post.
Bobbi nearly became a statistic of suicide thanks to depression coating her with apathy, guilty, and self-loathing.
I came within a breath of losing my friend because hate and intolerance were flung at her. By her own father. She thought the world would be a better place without her.
Because I never wanted someone to believe they were worthless because of their sexual orientation.
I wanted them to know they weren’t alone and there is life after your world falling apart.
Last spring, Bobbi told me a reporter from the Wall Street Journal found her via my “facebook outed my friend” post. He wanted to interview us and share her story.
I think my jaw hit the floor. “Really?”
He flew to Texas, took us out to lunch, and met with the other people in the story.
The story finally went to print today. On the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
I make a cameo as “friend’s couch”, “best friend”, and “friend”.
Bobbi tells me facebook now wants to talk to her.
But is she happy, dancing up and down?
She read the comments, which should really read “Trolls Post Here”. Not just for the WSJ, but pretty every news site, including the Huffington Post.
And those comments are hurting her all over again, just because she is brave enough to want to change things and help someone else out there.
Because people think a few hundred words are enough to judge her motivation and her life, which is so ridiculous it’s almost laughable.
Because people are still raised to judge and look down upon those they do not know.
Just like National Coming Out Day, I want for the article to not need to exist.
For people to not fear being outed, much less by social media.
I want every child to be secure enough in their parent’s love they don’t even need to come out, they just introduce their current love interest or share their crush without fear.
Those who are not heterosexual should not have to mention it any more than I tell people “I’m heterosexual.”
Which is to say, never.
And no one should think they have to tell me or risk having it become problem.
My son made a very good friend at preschool. Given his bossy nature, I considered this quite miraculous. Being the mother I am, I lingered one day during drop-off to meet his mother to suggest a possible play-date.
She invited my son over, and followed with, “You should know that we aren’t a traditional house. He has two mommies.”
I think I gushed on about Bobbi and others I know who are out and how I have no problem with it, when in reality, if I could take it back, I’d like to just say, “So?”
I reacted to her insecurity, trying to reassure her, instead of remembering it was the equivalent of toast for breakfast.
See, I’m not perfect either.
I never thought such a thing would come up in a play-date conversation.
It hit me as I climbed into my car how it would feel if I thought I had to bring up my sexual orientation every time I set up a new play-date. Or book club. Or dinner. Or practice for a Gangnam Style flash mob. Take your pick.
Imagine if every new parent you met was like,
“Hi, I’m Kelly. Our children love to play together. Would you like to come over so the kids can play? By the way, I’m gay/straight/an alien from Pluto and just wanted to make sure you were okay with that because if I don’t you could be one of those who suddenly freaks out when you show up at my house and see I might be different from you.”
Yeah, it’s messed up.
That tiny, one minute interaction, gave me a tiny taste of what someone who is gay (and a parent) goes through every day.
I’m waiting for the day when coming out really is as earth shattering as “Dude, I used jam instead of butter on my toast.”
Until then, I will continue my occasional rant and try to let those who do not have supporting families know that they aren’t alone. I will hug my children and teach them love is what is important, not the gender of the person it is with.
I will post those stories, because you never know who might be listening.
I hope you do to.
**To read the article in the Wall Street Journal online, just Google “WSJ outed on facebook” and it should be the first link that pops up.**
Updated 10-15-12: Because of the frenzy surrounding the article, Bobbi will be on the Today Show this Wednesday morning (as of this update).
Updated 10-16-12: Because a debate is now scheduled for tonight, she has been postponed. I will update if/when they finally get a definite date.
If you’d like to read her response to some of the comments she’s read online, she’s posted it HERE.