If you’re feeling optimistic about the holiday season, it could be because of how far we’ve come as a community. When this column began, many in our community dreaded the holiday season because there was separation of family due to them being out. Today, while that forced separation is still true for many, a lot of families have accepted their openly out members. And in some of those where there is a separation, there is still a chance for dialogue. That’s improvement. We are no longer invisible.
But, there are some cases when visibility and coming out of the closet might not be the best idea. And we all need to understand that and be supportive. Recently my cousin told me of a 16-year-old friend of her granddaughter. The girl knew who she was, but her parents were very strict and wouldn’t accept her. What might happen to her if she told her parents who she really was? It’s possible that she could find herself in counseling, homeless or, even worse, in conversion therapy. That’s an extreme, but it still happens today.
This issue is important because we still have, unfortunately, those who are out sometimes shaming those who are not. That should not happen.
Coming out is a personal decision based on someone’s personal issues. Whatever someone’s choice, it’s not for us to judge. Going back to the beginning of this column, coming out to family when this newspaper began usually meant separation from family. That has changed. But even today, there’s that example of the 16-year-old girl. What we do know is those who are not out, and those who have lost their families, have a more difficult time during the holidays. And we should support them as best we can.
So if you have that holiday spirit, seek out those who might find it difficult or lonely this holiday season, spend a little time with them and find a way to make their life a little brighter. Isn’t that what community is all about?