Okay, who else wants George Takei saying “douchebag” as their new ringtone?
Earlier last week, Lt. Dan Choi — who was discharged from the Navy under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for coming out and living as an openly gay man — re-enlisted after a federal judge suspended DADT. It never made sense for the military to turn away Lt. Choi, who by any measure is a valuable and qualified candidate for service, based simply on his sexuality.
We should all applaud Lt. Choi for working tirelessly for the rights of LGBTQ servicemen, and hopefully he will again be able to pursue his dream to serve openly in this country’s military.
Today is National Coming Out Day, and let’s look at the state of the nation for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Gay marriage is still federally unrecognized, and can only be performed in 5 states. In California, gay marriage remains banned, even though a federal judge found that ban unconstitutional.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell remains in effect, despite efforts by Democrats to end the homophobic military policy that encourages witchhunts against enlisted gay and lesbian military. And just the other day, New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino claimed that homosexuality isn’t as “equally successful or valid [an] option” as heterosexuality.
In other words, we live in a world where politicians can, and do, openly and brazenly spout homophobic, anti-gay sentiment, and actually find this hate-mongering boosts their popularity. We live in a “don’t ask don’t tell” society, where bigots seek to keep LGBTQ Americans in the closet by bullying, by abuse, by violence, and by threat of death. We live in an America where children die because of the insensitivity and hatred of others.
National Coming Out Day is a day that speaks in stark contrast to that hatred. National Coming Out Day celebrates LGBTQ Americans coming out of the closet, and taking a stand against homophobia that would silence their very identity. But beyond that, National Coming Out Day is about acceptance — yes, of sexuality — but also of diversity in all its forms.
In this world where hatred — against race, national origin, sexuality, religion, and class — is the new norm, we should all find it within ourselves to embrace the spirit of National Coming Out Day, not just for how the day benefits the LGBTQ community, but also for what a day like today says about the America we would like to live in.
I, for one, want to see an end to popular bullying and commonplace bigotry spouted by the majority against minority groups of all colours and creeds. I want to see everyone, regardless of what their background, feeling free to be who they are, openly and honestly. I want to see acceptance become a nationwide pandemic.
National Coming Out Day may not be the ultimate solution, but it is a start.