If you cannot accept someone for their human nature, what is it about yourself that you do not accept?
A friend of mine recently came out on his 40th birthday. Not that he wasn't gay until that time. He was. But because of his family, how he was raised, his religion, and other reasons, he has kept his identity private. He hid in plain sight.
What is self-acceptance but love?
If you're struggling to come out, you need to find a way to love yourself more than those who want you to stay hidden in the closet. Even the smallest amount of self-love allows light to shine through the crack of your slightly ajar closet door. 40 years is a very long time to live in the shadows and the glimmer of freedom.
When my friend came out publicly on his birthday, in a video message on Facebook, he got lots of love from those who understood and supported him. His message was beautiful, brave, courageous, and vulnerable. I felt it and had tears in my eyes feeling while watching. But he also got resistance from those who disagreed with his message and his public declaration of his so-called lifestyle.
Your Identity Is Not a Lifestyle — Who You Are Is Who You Are.
To be blunt, if someone cannot agree with who you are, or they label your coming out as a message they want to control, they do not love themselves. The only way you can hate or disrespect someone else's identity is to lack unconditional self-love. That is a kind of emotional illness caused by ideologies of all sorts, most of which are religious-based.
His story reminded me of a post I wrote in late 2017 titled, If You’re Straight, You Need to Come Out as Humane. Ironically, I took inspiration for that post from a straight man who recorded a wonderfully vulnerable and funny TED Talk, Why I'm done trying to be "man enough”. What really stood out for me in Justin Baldoni’s talk was not just the simplicity of obviousness of what he said (at least to me), but the understanding of human connection and unity. My favourite moment is when he says,
"But I don't have a desire to fit into the current broken definition of masculinity because I don't just want to be a good man. I want to be a good human. And I believe the only way that can happen is if men learn to not only embrace the qualities that we were told are feminine in ourselves but to be willing to stand up, to champion and learn from the women who embody them."
For every polarity, there exists another, and another, and another…
We understand the world through the convention of language that uses words to define and label objects we observe and ideas we generate. But the system of language that we use to label requires other words to define the very words we use to label! It is, therefore, impossible to have a perfectly defined binary of two labels, when those labels require other words to be understood.
For example, man/woman; man/boy; man/human; man/straight; man/gay; man/queer. Wrap your head around those binaries as you use the construct of language to definitively label within a system that requires itself to exist.
When it comes to humanity, what is the binary?
Animals, mammals, and insects? Based on observation, that makes sense. Yet, there is no true binary for one human in opposition to another human. As much as fundamentalist religions and political ideologies preach and enforce an unnatural binary of good/bad on the value of human life, such indoctrination is temporary because it is innately unnatural. We are all connected, and we are all of nature. Human beings are part of the natural ecology of earth that gives us life.
For the conclusion to this article, read my post on Medium, If You’re Straight, You Need to Come Out as Humane.
Why I'm done trying to be "man enough.”
Cover photo by Toa Heftiba.