We continue with this series of Pride Inspired articles for June 2020. Today I relate the experience of coming out as a form of acceptance, not a final form of acceptance though.
Let's begin with understanding what do I mean by the term coming out.
The Dictionary definition, according to Google, says it is "to become known" It is a verb or action word. Some examples of the term used in a sentence are; 1a: to come into public view: make a public appearance a new magazine has come out. b: to become evident, his pride came out in his refusal to accept help. 2: to declare oneself especially in public utterance came out in favour of the proposal
Alternatively, we can look at what Wikipedia has to say;
Coming out of the closet, often shortened to coming out, is a metaphor for LGBT people's self-disclosure of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. The term coming out can also be used in various non-LGBT applications (e.g. atheists).
The Wikipedia article goes on to say, "… coming out of the closet is described and experienced variously as a psychological process or journey; decision-making or risk-taking; a strategy or plan; a rite of passage; liberation or emancipation from oppression; an ordeal; a means toward feeling gay pride instead of shame and social stigma; or even career suicide. Author Steven Seidman writes that "it is the power of the closet to shape the core of an individual's life that has made homosexuality into a significant personal, social, and political drama in twentieth-century America."
How powerful is that, whew!
Let's be clear that not all disclosure, as described here, is voluntary or self-initiated. Many folks may have to come out and disclose before they are ready; this can be referred to as Outing yourself. There is a time when someone else makes that declaration for you unintentionally. They may have even intentionally chosen that as an act of malice sometimes. When others have taken this power of self-declaration from you, they have outed you.
Imagine what it must be like to describe it as liberation or emancipation from oppression, an ordeal! How powerful it is to have a means toward feeling gay pride instead of shame and social stigma; or even career suicide.
What oppression, surely one could argue the internal oppression of not dealing with who they are.
Even that internal oppression has its roots in society and the negative, hateful messages that are fueled by a lack of understanding so that they will not accept. If they can't accept it because they don't understand, then label it as a sin, perversion, or a Blasphemy.
We all know what happens with sinners; the stories of hell date back to the post-Jesus era. Even the famous Dante's Inferno dates to the 14th century in terms of defining when we started using these images as societal guides by the organized church. These images and stories have, for hundreds of years, are used as ways to keep us on the straight and narrow path. Hence the saying God Help Them stay on the straight and narrow. They are taken from the 7th Chapter of Matthew, which was written between 70-110 years AD.
This raises the question if you can still be Christian and come out, the answer is yes. Although not everyone wants to be a Christian of an organized religion due to Canon Laws and other such governing policies of the organized church that say they folks must be excluded. They can be Christian because of their beliefs not because of church laws, which like membership of an organization, decide who is a worthy member and who is not.
This topic is not the focus of this article; it is instead about how the process of overcoming all of these systems that oppress your thought process about yourself can lead to acceptance of yourself.
This ordeal is what the Wikipedia piece refers too. One must wrestle with these different belief systems who what you should be and who you are; it is a psychological process to be sure.
When you ultimately realize that you have to live with yourself, but you do not have to be with the others who want to force upon you a false sense of who you are, that you may have the breakthrough necessary to accept yourself and come out.
Let me be clear that it is the beginning of a journey, not an end!
It raises more questions than requires support and effort on your part to grow in your acceptance. Part of the everlasting journey we are on in life. That is why I choose not to refer to this as the ultimate form of acceptance.
I think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and the pinnacle is Self-Actualization. Regardless if you are LGBT+ or not, reaching that place of self-actualization requires an ultimate acceptance of one's self. Since Maslow never meant that to be an end but rather an aspirational state, we aspire to reach a final approval of ourselves; otherwise, we continue to work at it as we are worth it.
If one does not choose this long-life path towards acceptance of self, what do they accept? According to the statistics, a large percentage still want suicide as an out rather than outing themselves. So, the decision is suicide or a life of working towards acceptance?
I, for one, do not believe that suicide is an option, so there is no choice. It is a lack of options going forward that drives one to consider suicide as no path forward that is tenable to them is evident. It is a clear sign that a professional mental health specialist is required to intervene to support that person. It begins with just asking for help.
Imagine those that choose to come out move forward and make that self-declaration or overcome a situation where they were outed or forced to out themselves. Those that select life have shown a form of acceptance in moving forward. Living, in this case, is a form of acceptance.
By merely accepting someone who has come out is not endorsing whatever they came out about, it is only supporting they are human being worthy of acceptance because they are living. Understanding about the unknown begins from a place of positivity of accepting them as a human being, and that is undoubtedly better than the alternative.
So, let's choose Acceptance without Understanding as ALL human beings are worth that.
In Pride and Solidarity
Con Amor Y Abrazos