October 11th of each year is “National Coming Out Day.” It’s a time each year when people are encouraged to “come out” with their sexual orientation or gender identity. Although I think any day of the year is a good time to come out, if you are looking for a publicly recognized day to take this important step, then October 11th is as good a day as any.
October is also GLBT History Month and another opportunity to learn about our struggles, our victories, and about some of the amazing people who made it all happen. Because of people like Harvey Milk and many other pioneers, our society is a more accepting place for people coming out than every before. Nonetheless, coming out is still a challenge.
Each year I write with a challenge to those of you in law enforcement who are still in the closet and this year will be no exception. I urge you to take a leap of faith and to come out. Use National Coming Out Day or GLBT History Month to mark this milestone in your life. You have no idea of how much freedom, relief, and pure joy you will feel once you release yourself to start living your life as you were created to be. In law enforcement, there is a huge network of GLBT police officers, deputy sheriffs, agents, and every other title, just waiting to embrace you and support you. You are not alone and you will find acceptance in law enforcement.
There is so much available to you on how to take the first step in coming out including what is available in our books and on this website. You can even get individual support by clicking on Coming Out at the top of this page. If you don’t have time to read our books, then read the coming out posts on this website. The time is now, so take that first step and go for it!
And if coming out for yourself isn’t a good enough reason, then do it for all of the other closeted cops out there who continue to suffer from the homophobia that still exists in our profession. How can you change that? You need to make yourself visible by coming out and sharing your story. Trust me, you are not the first or only gay cop at your department. But you may be the first to come out and we know from experience that by putting a face on the issue we can defeat the negative stereotypes that still hang on us. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of officers who have come out and who have had a very positive influence on their peers. They have literally changed minds and hearts. Employment laws and anti-discrimination policies are important, but they are really only good for punishing offenders after the damage is done. The only true way to defeat homophobia is to make ourselves visible and to demonstrate that we can do the job as well or better than anyone else.
Need a quick guide for coming out on National Coming Out Day, here you go.
A. Stand in front of a mirror, look at yourself and say it out loud. “I’m gay (or lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or how you choose to identify). But say it for real out load. You need to come out to yourself before you can tell anyone else.
B. Think about the friend you are closest too. The friend you value and trust the most. Call that person and set up a time and place to meet. Share your story and come out.
C. Follow your heart on who you tell next, but reach out to connect with other GLBT law enforcement personnel.
There are all kinds of resources including a section on the HRC Website. Click Here To Learn More.
If you decide to come out today, we’d love to hear from you. Click on Coming Out at the top of this page and send us a note to let us know how it all goes. Know that we are here, ready, and waiting to embrace you!