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It turns out that it’s difficult to find hinges to match original hardware. My father spent about three years looking for a match when, by cleaning my room via shoving everything into my closet, the door literally burst off from the pressure. I was in middle school then, still a few years from sharing any part of my queer identity, but the door to my closet leaned up against the frame for a long time.
Youth group was a major part of my life then, and I still remember having the conversation about “God’s design for marriage” with that close-knit group over pizza. Even more vividly I remember sitting at the desk in my mom’s office, cracking open the United Methodist Book of Discipline, and finding the part that says “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” I took that to heart, especially when my cabin counselor at summer camp told us all, when I asked her, that gay people were sinners.
These are the messages I got, and I internalized for a long time. I look back on my closet door as a sign because, when I did come out, it was a similar bursting forth with something I could no longer contain. I had entered a relationship with my first female partner and I wanted to shout it out to the world! So, I did. My family was affirming immediately, my true friends took it in stride, but at school, this opened up a whole new world of ugly. I certainly was not out at church.
October 11 is National Coming Out Day, which has been observed since 1988. Over a decade before that, Harvey Milk called for gay and lesbian people everywhere to come out to their communities and families. He hoped that the more people who came to know a gay person in their lives, the faster public acceptance would accelerate. We’ve made a great deal of progress since that time, and more so since the time I first came out 12 years ago.
In honor of the day and in the hopes of making support easier to access, we have added a Coming Out tab to our Resource page. Whether you’re thinking about coming out for the first time or are an ally wanting to be a well informed support for others, this page is for you. Additionally, support around being outed or making the decision not to come out can be found under this tab. If there is a resource you know of that should be included, feel free to send it to Mitch@RoomforAll.com to be added!
Coming Out is a deeply personal thing, and by no means a requirement for LGBTQIA+ people. There are people who may never share these personal details publicly, and they aren’t lying or hiding something, they’re making the decision that makes the most sense for them. Bursting out of the closet changed how I was treated, how I was spoken about, and how I navigated my life. When I shared my transgender identity the first few times, I had a lot of educating others to do to get the support I needed. I went back to my home church for the first time as Mitchel, and there was confusion about my trepidation. Finally, my first Sunday school teacher reminded me that I was still the same person they had always known and loved.
Wherever you are in your journey, there is room for you here. This National Coming Out Day, we celebrate and look forward to a time when we all are free to self-define who we are, and share openly about who we love.