Today is National Coming Out Day. Given all of the hate crimes and bullying in the news lately, I don’t blame anyone if they don’t quite feel comfortable announcing to the world that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. So this year it is even more important for heterosexual people who believe in human rights for all to take a stand.
I’ve been formulating a theory this weekend. I think (I hope) that we can compare homosexuality to left-handedness. Am I off my rocker? Hear me out…
50+ years ago, if a child in school picked up their pencil with their left hand in order to do their writing exercises, the teacher would smack their hand with a ruler and insist that they write with their right hand. In some areas, left-handed people were considered to be carrying a mark of the devil, and it was to be corrected by any means necessary. There were a lot of left-handed children who felt like freaks of nature and bad people, all for a trait that they were born with.
Corporal punishment in schools was eventually banned, but the belief that all people are meant to be right-handed prevailed. Teachers would correct the students and force them to switch hands. Students weren’t being beaten into submission physically anymore, but the message that they were somehow imperfect, less than, or different got through loud and clear.
Every now and then a student would insist on using their left hand. Every now and then a teacher would allow their students to use whichever hand they preferred, as long as they learned to write. Eventually, there may have been 1 child in each classroom who would be left-handed. It’s hard to be different, but at least they weren’t being openly punished.
As they grow up and meet more people, see them write and somehow bring up left-handedness or right-handedness in conversation, the left-handed student realizes that there are many more people out there who are left-handed and they are no longer alone.
There are many famous people who are left-handed. Heck, even our current President is a lefty. It’s no longer any big deal, it’s just another trait or preference that people are born with. It’s interesting that humans have preferences for things like using their left hand or their right hand. But we are learning more interesting things about the human creature every day.
Now go back and re-read that, replacing homosexual for “left hand” and heterosexual for “right hand.”
In the Dark Age of Understanding, people are still having a hard time realizing that sexual preference is just like writing hand preference. You’re born with it. It’s not shameful, it’s just a fact. It’s not a big deal, it doesn’t make you a freak or a second class citizen.
So today I raise my left hand in support of those who are still living in fear and shame. I offer this post as a tribute to you, and I hope you realize that you won’t be alone forever. You WILL meet people throughout your life who share the same preference as you. Things WILL get better, they WILL get easier. Please hang in there in the meantime, stay true to yourself, don’t let anyone disrespect you.
Life DOES get better. Yours will too.
For more information about National Coming Out Day or how you can show your support, please visit the Human Rights Council: http://www.hrc.org/