Dear Closeted Reader,
Today is National Coming Out Day. I'm sorry that you have to watch people's videos, posts, and announcements from the closet today. Coming out has now become, like everything, a public spectacle due to social media. This isn't inherently a bad thing, and I actually came out on social media four years ago, but it is rather exclusionary to those who have to remain closeted.
Not everybody comes from a family who will hug them and tell them they love them. Not everybody has a group of friends that will automatically start crying with joy and asking if they can hook them up with another LGBTQ person in their life. Not everybody works in an environment where they know they'll still have a job on Friday if they come out on Thursday. Not everybody attends a school that will respect their pronouns and their name, and let them use the facilities they need. For some people, coming out can literally be a matter of life and death; it could also mean the loss of housing, family, and financial security. It's a sad, ugly reality, but it is a reality some people live.
You are still valid if you have to remain closeted. As unfair as it is, it does not take away any part of your identity. Seeing all these happy people sharing their truth with all their loved ones can be frustrating if you're watching from the dreaded closet. Seeing posts about all the cute, quirky ways to come out can strike a deep note of sadness if you are unable to execute any of them. It is frustrating to know who you are but not be able to express it, but it may not be like that forever, so don't give up.
You are not alone. It isn't much, but hopefully you can take some solace in the fact that there are people who have you in their hearts and minds today and every day. If today isn't your day to come out, you will have your day in the sun eventually.
Take today in stride. Practice self-care; go see a movie, read that book that's been sitting on your shelf since May, phone an old friend, or connect with nature. You are perfect the way you are, closeted or not. You are not broken and there is no shame in being LGBTQ, no matter what you might have to hear from the people in your life.
There will be a day when you can finally say the words "I'm [any part of the LGBTQ community]." There will come a day when you can own exactly who you are and finally get to throw open that door and step into the world as a person who is out. In the words of gay icon Ariana Grande, "The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole."
JESSA POWERS is an editorial intern at The Advocate.