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Comment of the Day: Coming Out Will Change The World

Jim Burroway

May 16th, 2008

We’ve got a great groups of commentors here, and I’ve noticed some real gems this past week. Maybe we should start a series. Maybe not a daily one, but you know what I mean.

If this does end up becoming a regular series, then consider this one the first installment.

In response to Timothy Kincaid’s post, Make It Personal, Kim Ridley writes:

This really works! Coming out is what will change the world.

Let me tell you a story.

I live in small town Kentucky. My partner and I (I guess she’s my fiance now. We are moving back to California in July and will be married Labor Day Weekend) hang out at a local bar. It’s redneck as hell – barfights, country karaoke, the whole deal. Everyone had always been nice to us and most people were aware we were a couple, certainly all of the people I would consider my friends. One day, a woman came into the bar, walked up to me and asked me if Kristen and I were a couple. (I’d gotten this question before, never had a negative response, and thought nothing of it). I said “yes”. She said “go home.”

Within minutes, the entire population of the bar was on their feet, forcing this woman to leave. It was Kristen and I that kept the whole thing from coming to blows, on our behalf. People I’d never really met were coming up to me and telling me that the woman had no right to say that to me. That we were welcome there. That her bigotry was not. I had people telling me that they had gay friends, gay cousins, gay brothers.

I’d never felt so accepted, so loved, in my life. Come out. Come out as a couple. It’s easy to hate faceless people. It’s hard to hate your friends.

Comments

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Phil J
May 17th, 2008 | LINK

It’s a lovely story and a fantastic sentiment but as a GLBT Kentucky native I can tell you for every one story of acceptance there are a dozen blood drenched police reports and broken homes. Coming out in the south is taking your life in your own hands. I applaud those that make that commitment to live out loud, but I realize that the closet has yet to outlive it’s usefulness.

Great article and keep up the good work.

Steve - Geneva, IL
May 17th, 2008 | LINK

I am a single father. I moved to a townhouse complex in 1998 and there was a single mother 2 doors down from me. She attends a huge megachurch which is probably the most gay hating church in the area.

Shortly after I moved here it became clear that she had a “thing” for me. I’m guessing it is attractive to a single mother to see a loving ,committed, single father raising children by himself. Although I was always very friendly to her, I obviously never did anything to respond to her in any way but platonic. Eventually she went from hitting on me to not talking to me. I guess she was hurt or offended that I didn’t take the bait.

About a year later I decided to come out to some of my neighbors and since they talk, I essentially came out to all of them which was fine. All of a sudden she was very nice to me again because she no longer took it personally that I wasn’t interested in her. In a later discussion she told me that she had never really known any gay people and just assumed we were all like the people her church and James Dobson described. That I changed her views on gay people and gay parenting. That before she knew I was gay, she had believed what her church said about how gays were automatically unfit to be parents. She said that I was always her “model” father and by coming out, it made her realize that what her church was saying was not true.

The bottom line is that millions of people are told that we are depraved, God hating, sex fiends who’s main goal in life is to destroy the American family. They trust the people who tell them this and have no way of learning anything different. The progress on the legal front is certainly encouraging, especially what just happened in California. But even that is tenuous when it can be overturned by a simple majority of the people. Our families will always be at higher risk until we change the hearts of people. That is happening one person at a time and the way that is going to continue to happen is by coming out.

Jason D
May 18th, 2008 | LINK

While I don’t have a specific story in which Coming Out saved the day in any respect, I do know that my Coming Out has changed a lot of people’s perceptions of gays.

My brother and my father come to mind, as they were originally quite resistant, but have since come around. My brother gave me the whole “that’s okay, just don’t talk to me about it.” thing (which I ignored) and my father smiled to my face and said evil things about gays when I wasn’t around. But now, they are both 100% accepting. My father always asks things like “is your new gym gay-friendly?” My partner is fully accepted into the family, welcome in my parent’s home, and treated as if we are already married.
Aside from that I have often been told I am “the coolest gay dude” by straight men who originally wouldn’t want anything to do with gays. The type of straight men who are actually kind of scared of gay people have said that they do not feel threatened or uncomfortable around me.

Jake
May 18th, 2008 | LINK

This is also true in the military (contrary to popular belief the majority of servicemembers are not low-IQ knuckleheads), and this is what is eroding “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.

I was in the Navy, and because I had developed deep-seeded friendships with men and women for whom I would have given my life, I was able to quietly open a few minds one by one.

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