Today is National Coming Out Day. Since 1988, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have been encouraged to come out and share their stories with those around them.
By chance, I did that on October 11, 1995. I was unaware of the significance of the day when I first told an unsuspecting friend that I am gay. Like many, I chose someone who I thought would be supportive, and I was right.
But straight people can come out on this day too. A straight person can come out as an ally to the LGBT community. An ally is a person who is supportive of the gay community. An ally recognizes that the LGBT community faces discrimination and will help to combat homophobia.
PFLAG (Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays) is an organization of primarily straight people that seeks to bring others into the fight for LGBT equality. In Birmingham, PFLAG information can be found here. (And I believe they are meeting tonight).
Later this month Equality Alabama and the Human Rights Campaign are bringing a series of events to Birmingham and other areas of the state. Take part in these events to show support. A list of events can be found here.
Starting a conversation in your place of worship is also a way to support the LGBT community. At Discovery United Methodist there is a book study taking place this month that is covering “Adam’s Gift,” by Jimmy Creech, the former United Methodist Pastor who supported gay rights and lost his credentials as a result. On October 26 Jimmy Creech will speak at an event for the public at Discovery UMC about his book and about his experiences. Hearing Creech would be a good beginning for a straight person (as well as gay people) wanting to learn more about the discrimination gay people face, and what they can do about it. More information about the event can be found here.
Today, and indeed all of October, offers opportunities to join a movement that will lift people up and promote justice for all.
And it begins by coming out, either as an LGBT person, or an ally.