Trending / June 3, 2021

Why Pride Matters, and the Never-Ending Coming Out Story

June is Pride month for the LGBTQIA+ community. On the surface, some might think this month is all about the bright colors, music, parades, and parties. Pride means many things to those who celebrate it, but for me it is a time of the year when it doesn’t feel like it matters that I’m a gay man. During Pride month, being gay is the norm, being a part of my community is celebrated openly, and I worry less about how the world judges and treats a man they don’t know.

The author

For me, unlike Pride month, the rest of the year is a series of constant “coming out” mini events or micro stories. Most people are familiar with the typical coming out story in which a person is either embraced or shunned by friends and family — and the trauma, relief, or elation that ensues. But what isn’t expressed in those narratives is that you never stop coming out.

Every day, in every interaction I have with another person, I’m faced with a choice. I must assess if it is safe for me to mention certain aspects of my life, such as referring to my spouse as my husband. Will my boss, coworkers, vendors, or customers treat me differently or not want to work with me? When I’m walking down the street, will I be verbally or physically attacked for appearing “gay” or for giving my husband a hug? Can I have a casual conversation with a new acquaintance about my life and remain psychologically and physically safe?

In every new interaction, I have to determine if I must shield myself or share who I am, authentically.

I feel lucky that, as I’ve gotten older and developed close friendships, I care much less about what others might think of me or how they treat me. And, while I’m grateful that working at Gigamon has brought only good experiences and support, I will never stop having to come out. This is why Pride is necessary; it embodies the equality, celebration of self and community, visibility, and the allyship that the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t always experience throughout the rest of the year.

When you think about why it’s important to celebrate Pride, I hope you consider what I’ve shared. People in my community might never stop having to “come out” in interpersonal settings, but until we can fully and authentically be ourselves without fear for our safety, Pride will remain that much more important to the LGBTQIA+ community.

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