-Executive Director, Integrity USA
As some of y'all may know, my father recently passed. The night before he died the Hospice nurse sat my family down and explained that in her opinion he would probably die within the next 24 hours, and that we should say anything we had to say to him soon.
My father had chosen to spend his last days at home, his medical bed sitting in the middle of his library. The library was connected to the living room and the kitchen, so that he could continue to hang out with us as long as possible. After the nurse left I walked into the library, shut the doors, and sat down. He had lost consciousness, but I was ready to tell him everything that was on my heart, all my secret, everything that I was sorry for, everything that I'd forgiven him for, everything that I was thankful for that I'd just never mentioned. I was ready for it to take hours.
Instead, it look about four minutes. There just wasn't much that he didn't already know, there wasn't much that we hadn't already talked about.
I only came out to my father about two years ago, but it changed things between us. It was not simply that he now had confirmation that I was a trans woman and that I was gay. Being out to him allowed us to talk about our lives, to compare to notes, to collaborate.
The night I came out to him he called me. I was walking around my neighborhood in Boston. One thing his said was, “I don't completely understand this, but I trust you.” And from day to day he showed that he did.
That trust, that knowledge that when my full self was known I was still loved, still trusted, it was the single most freeing and blessed experience of my life.
Today is National Coming Out Day. Coming out isn't just about simple identification. Coming out is about living honestly, living fully, giving the people in your life the chance to love you for who you really are.
Coming out is an act of radical vulnerability, and as such is can be absolutely terrifying. It can also have serious risks. Thanks to our world's societal bigotries and biases, not everyone you come out to will respond well. Some might reject you, break relationship with you. There's no way around that being a painful, ugly experience.
Still, the benefits are incredible. You have the chance to change the world with the true of your own being. You have the chance to celebrate the reality of your creation by God, to grow and explore without walls of silence trapping you in. You have the chance to be truly known, to be truly loved.
To all the people coming out today, I say congratulations! I praise your bravery and your honesty! To those of you who are still trying to make the decision, well, it's up to you, but just know that it's wonderful out here, and that we're here when you are ready.