Five years ago, I came out to another person for the first time, cementing what had transpired a few days earlier around two in the morning, alone in front of my bathroom mirror: a personal and full acknowledgment that I am gay.
Back then, I didn’t know about the coincidences and consequences that surrounded my coming out. That I had happened to come out in the month of June – Pride Month, a time for reflection, celebration, and renewed spirit. That coming out to that friend was just the first of many coming out’s. That my acceptance of my gay identity would allow me to join a community of strength and heroes; of flaws and divisiveness; of mentors, many friends, and allies. That I would feel lighter, happier, and more fully me in every possible way afterward.
In these past five years, I’ve learned that coming out is more than just an affirmation of identity. In the face of negative sociocultural norms, of malice, and of violence, it is a radical act of self-love, and that love combines and transcends beyond the boundaries of any one person.
This idea has become ever more salient in light of the shooting, violence, and hate stemming from the Orlando shooting:
1) Loving yourself, being yourself is never wrong. In my experience, it can only help you become your entirety.
2) Loving others, extending kindness and empathy to others, is how you can use your self-love to help others.
3) We are a community not joined together by the hate that targets us but a community that has come together in loving acceptance of all of our differences: genders, orientations, creeds, colors, nationalities, and beyond.
Thank you @ro-mantik for such reaffirming words. In honor of National Coming Out Day, we celebrate the resilience of the LGBT community and the “radical acts of self-love” each of us carry out every single day.