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Coming out: A
domino game

Coming out: A
domino game


Polls show that the biggest supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights are those who know LGBT people. So do your part on this National Coming Out Day.

Having flown on more than 60 planes in the last six months, I've had my share of conversations with strangers. You've been there too. Even if you have an aversion to flying, you've faced this situation in the doctor's office or on a train.

You're sitting next to a woman who reminds you of your grandmother, and you're chatting about the best Italian restaurants in Boston. She says you're cute, seeming to restrain herself from pinching your cheek, and remarks about your "lucky wife." All of a sudden you go from friendly chitchat to a serious personal conversation.

That is, if you decide to be honest. Too often we aren't. We tell half-truths, "Oh, I'm not married." We're human. We worry about being liked. We don't want the grandmotherly conversation to take a turn to a lecture. But here's why we should risk it.

Talking about our lives lays the foundation for equality.

Imagine that woman next to you on the plane to Boston. In the fall of 2008, Massachusetts voters could be asked whether they want to put marriage discrimination in the state constitution. She's one of those voters. She doesn't know anybody gay (or know that she knows anybody gay). Sure, she's seen gay people on TV, and she thinks her neighbor's son is gay. But she's never had a conversation about gay issues with anybody gay, much less someone with whom she's already struck up a friendly conversation.

You're starting on good ground. And even if you never see the payoff down the road, it will happen. Polls show that the biggest supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights are those who know LGBT people.

Coming out isn't just for LGBT people either. Take one of our staff members, Jay. He's transgender and out to his family. Still, Jay hasn't seen his great-aunt in years and hasn't had the chance to talk to her yet. But his grandmother talks to her. The other day, Jay's mom called. His great-aunt had sent her an article about a transgender woman in Houston whom the Human Rights Campaign helped. The article included a note from the great-aunt about her support for Jay and for the great work the organization is doing.

Sure, it made him feel great, but it also proves an important point: Coming out has a domino effect that doesn't stop with straight people.

Coming out can go all the way from the chat between airplane passengers to the inside of the voting booth on Election Day. On this National Coming Out Day, make a commitment to yourself to talk about it, every day. And before the year is out, talk about it to one friend, one family member, one coworker, and one neighbor on the plane before National Coming Out Day 2006. Just think of where the last domino could fall.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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