So here I sit on the last day of 2012 thinking about the prospects of the new year. I’ve always been into resolutions, some that end up becoming part of my life and others that fade away after the shine of a new idea wears off. I hear many people make resolutions about losing weight, eating a more healthy diet, doing something more for others, and all kinds of great ideas for how to be a better person. The kind of people drawn to law enforcement are often care-takers, givers, and would fill their list of resolutions for how to do a better job or to give more to someone else first before doing something for themselves. I have a challenge for you for this coming year. As you consider your resolutions for 2013, somewhere in between going to the gym more religiously and cutting out fatty foods, make one resolution for yourself and one to help others.
For yourself, be it resolved to live a truly authentic life. If you are still in the closet with your sexual orientation, make this year the one you come out. It’s time! I can speak from personal experience, the amount of stress caused for a law enforcement officer when you lie about who you really are can be overwhelming. It has a directly impact on your health and well being. Dishonesty in law enforcement is the worst kind of unethical behavior; well all know that. Being dishonest with your co-workers every Monday when you are asked about what you did over the weekend, talking about an opposite sex partner who doesn’t exist, and living a double-life is simply wrong. Stop the lies and stop denying yourself the happiness you are entitled to. Make 2013 your year to come out and to be your true self. There are plenty of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender people working very successfully in law enforcement who are out and ready to help and support you. Reach out for advice if you need it, but don’t let another year go by. Times have changed for the better and I truly believe the law enforcement profession would rather have you “out” and honest than closeted and living a lie.
Doing for others, be it resolved to do something to further the fight for equality and to support the LGBT community. Going back to the first resolution, one of the best ways to make things better in law enforcement for LGBT people is to come out. Trust me, I’ve seen it in departments throughout the country, when LGBT people come out, the agency culture changes. It may not be immediate or without some bumps along the way, but others before you have proven it. Coming out and telling your story is the most effective way of changing the hearts and minds of the homophobes out there. For those of you who are already out, be a role model. If you are the first out LGBT person in your department, remember the responsibility to carry for those who will come after you. Be a mentor. This doesn’t mean you have to waive the rainbow flag in everyone’s face, but stand tall and do your job well. Be authentic always and use every opportunity you get to have conversation with your colleagues, supervisors, and community members about being L,G,B, or T in law enforcement as a way to educate and open minds.
Related to this, make a resolution to do something for the betterment of the LGBT community. There are so many possibilities, but pick at least one that matches your passion. Some amazing people have been fighting the fight to get you and I where we are today. The civil rights we do have weren’t just given to us and every gay person out there has a responsibility to do their part. But it doesn’t mean you have to go to a protest, a march, or become an activist. Join an organization, make a contribution (donate money!), or if you feel so inclined, become a volunteer. There are hundreds of legitimate non-profit organizations out there doing work for you to make life as an LGBT person better. Pick one and support it. If you don’t like the large-scale national organizations and prefer a grass-roots effort, then look within your local community. Find an organization that supports LGBT youth, a high school or middle school GSA, an HIV/AIDS support organization, or a local human rights effort.
Most of all, make 2013 your year! In all that you do every day to help others, make sure you take good care of yourself. Treat yourself well and really consider all that is good in your life first before dwelling on the problems. We all have things we wish were better, but spending time feeling sorry for yourself or stuck thinking about what you don’t have or can’t have isn’t going to get you happiness. Remember, you can’t be good to others unless you are first good to yourself.
Happy New Year! Be safe out there always.