I’ve been thinking about visibility lately, and what it means to be “out” as a gay woman. Almost every gay person can tell you what it was like to take that first peek outside of the closet. Some of us poked our heads out of the closet and quickly went back in. Some burst out of the closet, rainbow flags flying! Some are out at home and with close friends, yet remain closeted at work or with family members.
I understand that not everyone can live a completely out life. In some situations, it’s not safe to be out, sadly. Or sometimes you simply don’t want to deal with someone else’s reaction right then. I get that.
But let me share with you why I think it’s so important for LGBT people to be as visible as we can be. Every gay person who lives an out life makes a ripple that connects to others who might still be in the closet. Your visibility directly affects other lives in ways you cannot imagine. Here’s an example:
See that teenager watching you and your girlfriend enjoy an inside joke at the restaurant? She might be seeing her first ever model of a loving, gay relationship. She might be struggling with being bullied at her school for being gay. Seeing you live as an out lesbian might give her the hope that one day she can also have a great relationship with the girl of her dreams.
That’s just one example of how your visibility helps others. Visibility in the media has had such a huge impact ever since Ellen came out in the 90s. As soon as she was brave enough to do it, other celebrities followed suit, and soon realized that they could come out and actually be celebrated for it! And in recent days, Honey Maid graham crackers has included this heart-warming video of a family with two dads in their newest ad campaign:
I can’t imagine the impact a commercial like this would have had on me growing up in the 70s and 80s–there wasn’t an out gay person to be found on any TV set in the country then!
When we are visible, we have the opportunity to help save others, but most importantly, we also save ourselves. If you need a nudge towards more visibility, here are 3 reasons why you should come out:
- Less stress, more energy: It takes a lot of energy to stay in the closet, to remember who knows and who doesn’t, to police your speech, etc. Living openly means that you can spend that energy on other areas of your life!
- Less worry, more freedom: No worries? Well, fewer worries! Usually, our fears are greater than reality. How many times have you worried something into a much bigger deal than it ended up being? Once you’re out, it’s over (and I’ll bet it won’t be as bad as you worried it might be). You’ll have a lot more freedom in your life then, too!
- Less past, more present: Living in the closet is living in the past and wearing a mask that doesn’t fit you any more. Be your true self and live in the wide, open present!
Like the tiny drop of rain that seems inconsequential, when gathered up into the vast ocean with all the other drops, our collective visibility has infinite power! We all benefit when people live their authentic lives.
Leave me a comment to let me know how visibility or living in the closet has affected you. I look forward to hearing from you!