Spectrum Alliance Recap - Coming Out

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This month’s Spectrum Alliance meetup in Salida was presented by Ark Valley Equality Network Volunteer, Julie Nutter. In honor of National Coming Out Day on October 11th, Julie spoke about “Coming Out” and we watched a couple of videos.

Spectrum Alliance in Salida, Colorado meets every month. Details are available on the Spectrum Alliance page. Although we held a group discussion, the information below was shared. Please feel free to contact us with any questions arkvalleyspectrumalliance@gmail.com.

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Wikipedia defines coming out as: Coming out of the closet, or simply coming out, is a metaphor for LGBT people's self-disclosure of their sexual orientation or of their gender identity. The term coming out can also be used in various non-LGBT applications (e.g. atheists).

Framed and debated as a privacy issue, coming out of the closet is described and experienced variously as a psychological process or journey;[1] decision-making or risk-taking; a strategy or plan; a mass or public event; a speech act and a matter of personal identity; a rite of passageliberation or emancipation from oppression; an ordeal;[2] a means toward feeling gay pride instead of shame and social stigma; or even career suicide.[3] Author Steven Seidman writes that "it is the power of the closet to shape the core of an individual's life that has made homosexuality into a significant personal, social, and political drama in twentieth-century America".[4]

American gender theorist Judith Butler argues that the process of "coming out" does not free gay people from oppression. Although they may feel free to act as themselves, the opacity involved in entering a non-heterosexual territory insinuates judgment upon their identity, she argues in Imitation and Gender Insubordination (1991).

Coming out of the closet is the source of other gay slang expressions related to voluntary disclosure or lack thereof. LGBT people who have already revealed or no longer conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity are out, i.e. openly LGBT. Oppositely, LGBT people who have yet to come out or have opted not to do so are labelled as closeted or being in the closetOuting is the deliberate or accidental disclosure of an LGBT person's sexual orientation or gender identity, without their consent. By extension, outing oneself is self-disclosure. Glass closet means the open secret of when public figures' being LGBT is considered a widely accepted fact even though they have not officially come out.[5]

"Why We Need Another Coming Out Story" discusses the challenges of living in a heteronormative society. As individuals who identify as LGBTQ, it can be difficult to find others with similar stories in order to create ties and generate a sense of community.
 
After New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey came out as a "Gay American", Brian Hartigan's two young children had some questions. Brian and his ex-wife saw it as an opportunity to tell their children that their dad was gay. What they didn't expect was how funny the exchange would become.

"I was very scared of how you'd react..."

 
In a moving and personal talk, activist and researcher Natia Gvianishvili tells her story of coming out, the unexpected reactions, and why community and public attitudes are critical. Natia Gvianishvili is a program director at Women's Initiatives Supporting Group and a former board member of Identoba.