Friday, October 11, 2013

National Coming Out Day

According to what one of my daughter's friends read on Facebook in the car on the way to band practice this morning, today is National Coming Out Day.

I think it's time we all came out.

I don't mean those of us who are gay. I mean those of us who love someone who is gay.
That widens the pool, doesn't it?

I don't out my gay friends. That's up to them. Even if they're clearly and comfortably out, I don't usually bring up their sexuality when talking about them, any more than I bring up my hetero friends' sexuality. "You know Bob--totally straight--but really, he's a great guy. You'll love him."
However, something happened the other day that made me rethink coming out. I was talking to a friend within earshot of another woman I only know slightly. The friend and I happened to discuss something related to homosexuality--I don't remember what it was, maybe something on the internet--anyway, after the friend left, the Woman I Only Know Slightly approached me and gave me a hug. She told me that she'd gathered I wasn't hostile to gay people, and she wanted me to know that she was glad, because she had a relative who was gay.

This was important to her. She's a religious person whose faith tells her that gay people are less welcome in God's kingdom (don't get me started), and that troubles her because she loves her gay family member, but the hardest thing, she says, is listening to people say nasty things about gay people in her hearing assuming that she agrees.

If they knew about her family member, maybe they'd watch what they said. Then maybe, just maybe, they'd watch what they thought. Then maybe what they thought would start to change. Wouldn't that be beautiful?
So I think we need to out ourselves. I'm Kim Bradley, and my beloved great-uncle, John Guernewicz, was gay. He never came out to the family, but we figured it out, since when he died, in 1978, he died of AIDS. I loved him. My love had no more to do with his sexual orientation than it did his height or the color of his eyes. I loved him because he was kind and gentle and cared about me; because when I was five years old and danced for him he clapped; because everyone who knew him loved him, including God, whom I believe, with all my heart, welcomed Uncle Johnny into heaven, and claps for him, and loves, loves to watch him dance.