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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Love yourself and live loud

    Jeremiah Simmonscolumnist
    Jeremiah Simmons
    columnist

    Yesterday marked this year’s National Coming Out Day. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, announced that the theme for National Coming Out Day 2007 would be “”Talk About It,”” continuing the slogan and branding that the national program has been building since 2005.

    This day was aimed at creating awareness and solidarity in the LGBTQQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and ally) community.

    So what does it mean to come out? When individuals come out, they are personally accepting their sexuality and openly informing their friends, family members and other significant people in their lives. This is oftentimes a very confusing introspective and existential process. I say this because when certain people go through this process, they are forced to re-evaluate their values and belief systems that previously had provided the core meaning in their lives. Real and valid concerns exist, such as, “”Will my family still love me?”” The coming out process is usually a slow and gradual one, with people taking small steps in stages, starting from identity confusion, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride and identity synthesis.

    Coming out will always be different for each person and that process happens at every age and stage in life. For some, going through that process will be rough and full of grief and frustration, but there is a certain amount of freedom when we come out. When we do, we get the opportunity to authentically live the life we want to live. Now I’ll share some tips on what to do before you come out, when you come out and after you’ve come out.

    Before coming out, educate yourself about the LGBT community and what it means to be LGBT. Find a support system, like a friend or professor, to help you through this process if you should land in a rough patch. Be resourceful and research the LGBT organizations around the Tucson area. Wingspan, an LGBT community center at 425 E. Seventh St., near Fourth Avenue, is a great place to find information and resources around town. Who knows, you might even stumble into a hottie there.

    So now you wanna come out, huh? Today’s the day you tell yourself. No doubt you’ve even created a “”Coming Out”” mix to blast from your computer or car. Well when you finally decide to come out, STAY CALM! This is a day you probably don’t wanna be drunk trying to come out to your friends and family. Have your support friend with you just in case things don’t go as expected. Remember, this is your day gurl (not girl), so go forth and make the rest of us proud. And PLEASE, if you feel the need to adorn yourself with some rainbow, please use it sparingly. I don’t know if I can look at any more rainbows.

    Now that you’ve just burst forth from your closet cocoon, there are things that still need to be done. First, give your friends and family time to let the news sink in. Answer any of their questions openly and honestly. Everyone’s parents react differently. My parents were more shocked than anything. My dad jumped in his truck and drove off for about six hours, then came home and hugged me. I think they could fathom the idea of their friends having gay children, but never their own. Working with your family takes time and if you continue to work on your relationship, things will get better. I am closer to my family now than I had ever been. Essentially, you want to show them that you are the same wonderful person that you always were.

    After seven years of being an openly gay man, I can say that it takes an immeasurable amount of courage to be oneself authentically. We need to remember that a person’s sexual preference has nothing to do with their integrity and worthiness as a human. Coming out isn’t a once in a lifetime event. We find ourselves coming out over and over to different people and in different circumstances. Melissa Etheridge puts it frankly: “”People think they’ll lose everything if they come out. This didn’t happen to me at all. In fact, everything came back tenfold.””

    Jeremiah Simmons is a second-year graduate student in the college of public health. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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