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October 11, 2008

Local guest column: On national day, come out, come out, wherever you are

Saturday is National Coming Out Day, an internationally observed civil awareness day for coming out and for discussion about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and questioning issues.

It is observed on Oct. 11 each year by LGBTQ individuals and friends. The day was founded by Dr. Robert Eichberg and Jean O'Leary in 1988, in celebration of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights one year earlier, when 500,000 people marched on the Capitol for gay and lesbian equality.

As an LGBTQ individual, I look back upon my past and remember many National Coming Out Days passing with a promise to myself that the following year, I would be among the ranks of the millions of other LGBTQ individuals who took that bold step and broke out of their closets.

It took a number of broken promises and many more years of hiding, lying and being someone I was not before I decided to kick the door of my closet wide open. Not only did I knock open the door, I ripped the door frame right off the wall, never to be replaced. That was 11 years ago, and I have no regrets whatsoever.

What is life like being in the closet? I often recite a quote that epitomizes the life I and many others led and still lead in the closet. It is as follows: "The torment of human frustration, whatever its immediate cause, is the knowledge that the self is in prison, its vital life force leaking away in wasteful self-conflict."

I have always personally related to this quote. I was living a lie, two lives, which frustrated and angered me to no end. I felt like I was in prison, not by my own doing but because of a society that dictates to us who we should be and how we should act. I was wasting my life, my inherent potential, my vital life force, on worry.

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