Mikey Rox’s piece in your Dec. 3 edition, “9 Reasons Why Coming Out On A Holiday Isn’t A Good Idea,” was homophobic and wrong. Here are 9 reasons why:
1. Coming out to family causes division, according to Rox. His argument implies that there is something inherently bad about being gay, and that disruption is the mostly likely outcome. I contend that the opposite is true. Coming out to family is a bold, brave and joyful act, and, thanks to decades of work by many activists and allies, today’s families often celebrate the LGBT identity of members. Telling the truth should never be presented as something that is divisive to togetherness. It assumes that unity depends on lies and secrets. It also shames and blames the victim. It is NOT coming out that causes division; it’s homophobia.
2. Rox says coming out creates awkwardness. It ought to not EVER be considered awkward to tell one’s family the truth, unless one is ashamed and embarrassed. Clearly, Rox has a lot of shadows in his own closet. It permeates his entire piece. Please, friends, come out with self-respect and joy, and give your family a chance to celebrate with you. Introduce your boyfriend or girlfriend with pride. Of course, common sense should apply. Do not come out to a dangerous audience. But if there’s even a chance that your family could be in your corner, go for it. Even if they’re not…if you’re too strong to collude with their homophobia any longer, go for it. Just have an exit plan, if things get too rough. But never feel ashamed or embarrassed. Never think of yourself as an awkward reality, or a problem.
3. Rox says coming out risks being kicked out, so just keep quiet and pretend. Live the lie that makes your family comfortable. First of all, I call bullshit. Second, I think Rox needs therapy for his own internalized homophobia. Third, is it better to lie and pretend for a chance to eat turkey, or to live openly and proudly, with loving friends? Many LGBT people my age did lose our families of origin. We formed new families of loving friends. But today, society is different. More and more families remain supportive and loving. (Thank you, PFLAG!) The truth ought not ever depend on protecting the comfort of homophobes, at the expense of the LGBT person. Being out matters. It protects from the kind of self-hatred that permeates Rox’s piece.
4. Rox says it’s better, when it comes to your family, to keep silent and live a lie, because your friends might be too busy over the holidays to support you, if your family reacts badly. Seriously? Then maybe they aren’t really friends. LGBT people understand what it means, to come out to family, and we do support each other. We become loving family, when needed. Clearly, Rox is coming from the closet on this. If you are not out, and don’t have a supportive friendship circle, then yeah, you might feel very much alone, after you drop the bomb. Come out to friends and build your support network. Let them know that you’re planning to come out to your family over the holidays. Keeping them in the loop is always important.
5. Rox says coming out may offend those who consider the holiday to be Holy. Seriously? This point is so blatantly homophobic that I honestly can’t believe TRT agreed to publish this garbage. Being LGBT is sacred and holy, and telling the truth is a sacred act of power. We are all beautiful children of God, and no queer child should have to lie, to prop up religious homophobia. Rox needs therapy, and a good Pride March!
6. There’s no time for a serious discussion when home for the holidays, so Rox says don’t spill the beans. Right… Just keep quiet about your dirty little sacrilegious secret and tell your family in an e-mail. At this point I think it’s clear that Rox is a self-hating homosexual man who really ought not be giving advice on coming out. I believe in courageous, proud coming out. I think the holidays offer a great opportunity to look your parents and siblings in the eyes and share your truth. (And, introduce a loved one, if they are with you.) My advice? Do the opposite, and think the opposite of every argument Mikey Rox presents, and you’ll be fine. Better than fine! You’ll be self-loving and proud. And you’ll be treating your family with respect, rather than lying and keeping secrets from them, and assuming the absolute worst about them all. Give them the chance to be good.
7. Rox says it’s selfish to turn the visit into the “me-show.” Sigh. No Mikey, it isn’t selfish for any family member to take the time, when family gathers, to share deeply personal, IMPORTANT information necessary to protect the authenticity of the relationship. Coming out qualifies as something very important and necessary to share. It’s not selfish, to assume your loved ones want to know about your life.
8. Rox says don’t drop the bomb and just leave, it’s not fair. Actually, that depends. If they react negatively, and you feel that you are being disrespected or endangered, you may choose to depart. Or, they may be open and want you to stay and talk with them. It’s entirely up to you, how you handle the situation after you come out. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, give your family a chance to be good. Also, don’t assume it’s a bombshell. Most of the time, at least some of your loved ones have already figured you out, and have only been waiting for you to say it out loud.
9. Rox says the holidays are already high stress, so don’t ramp it up by coming out. Again, I call B.S. There is no greater stress than the closet, and no LGBT person should be advised to stuff it. Again, give your family a chance to be good, and don’t hate yourself, or your information. It’s not a dirty, sacrilegious secret. It’s your precious, sacred truth, and your wholeness matters too.
I honestly do not understand why TRT ran this homophobic piece. I think it must have been an oversight. TRT has always supported LGBT Pride. Next time, I hope they run a piece describing how LGBT folks come out to their families gracefully, and are lovingly supported. Rox’s deeply homophobic piece requires balance.
—Trystan Marl Greist, Greenfield, MA