Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Advice To A Young Queer On Coming Out Day

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | October 11, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Dane Kuttler, National Coming Out Day

Poem by Dane Kuttler:

1 - Learn to dance; it is your birthright and your heritage.
2 - Be proud of who you are, and we will be proud with you.
3 - If coming out to your parents is a stupid idea, for whatever reason, don't let us talk you into it.

Don't be swayed by our tshirts,
our cyberspace proclamations,
or our bullhorns - be smart.
If you live in a home with no doors,
don't set off the dynamite.
If you go to a school with more guns
than teachers,
don't paint yourself the target.

Staying in the closet does not make you a liar or a coward.
It is not your job to be the lone outpost
of unabashed queerdom, wherever you are.
You are only responsible for keeping yourself alive and sane,
and if that means coming out
despite broken teeth and bloodied fists - we wish you luck.
We understand.

I've pretended to be
the roommate, the close friend
in front of my lovers' parents,
and I do not begrudge them an ounce of their survival.

Listen, little hero, we love our martyrs:
our Harvey Milks, our Matthew Shepherds,
our Tyler Clementis, our gunshots
and bridges and fences.
We are so good at mourning,
but our vigils only comfort the breathing.

We are not coming
to your snarling school, your ice-crusted home,
your barbeque-firework town.
We are waiting for you, little hero,
in our sleepless cities and villages
at the end of the rainbow.
The ordeal and the enemies are worth it,
we will tell you.

But we are not as brave
as we tell you to be.

My own grandmother loves me more
when I only tell half the truth.
I do not begrudge you your survival.
You have permission to take care of yourself,
whether that means chatrooms, or knife blades,
or secret closets of the clothes you want to wear.

4 - Stay alive. Stay sane.
You don't owe us


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Ms. Kuttler's words are beautiful but do not speak for all who have lived in the closet. Hatred kills, but closets can kill too. For many, the closet is no safe haven but a solitary prison of shame and despair. For many, coming out is not an act of defiance but an act of survival.

Well yes, coming out can be and often is an act of survival. But this post was aimed at youth, many of whom could be thrown out of their homes or become the targets of violence if they were to come out. So for them, the cost-benefit analysis might be a little more skewed.

I don't think Mr. Kuttler intended to speak for all those who have lived in the closet, or to all those living there - just to young LGBT individuals who feel increasing pressure to come out even when it may not be safe yet.

We are all speaking of at-risk youth.

>many of whom could be thrown out of their homes or become the targets of violence if they were to come out

This is so true, but many face even greater danger in the darkness of the closet-- driven to suicide by shame, guilt and isolation that were never, ever deserved. It's wrong to assume that closets are safe places for lgbtq youth. For many, it's not so simple.

Exactly. It's not so simple. If you read the poem, it's pretty clear that the author is saying "stay in the closet if you need to/when you need to." That there's no shame in doing what you need to do in the moment to ensure your own safety. That it's not for us to decide how and when every queer youth should come out - it is THEIR life, THEIR decision.

Of COURSE staying in the closet can be psychologically and even physiologically harmful, and in an ideal world we could all be free and open about who we are. Duh. All this poem is saying is that sometimes coming out can be harmful, too, especially if you are young, in a hostile place and have no support network, and to not feel bad about yourself for waiting to come out.

I encourage you to recognize that the solution that works/worked for you, for some others or even for many others, does not work for everyone.

I waited until I was out of my parents house, and earning a wage before I came out at the age of 20, all those years ago in Ireland.

I am glad I waited until I was ready.

As ever, the moral is: think for yourself. Don't let your parents, your pastor, your coach, OR your gay friends do that for you. It's your life, after all.