Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jim Toevs co-founded the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission. In 1992, Jim was the Democratic nominee for Congress against then-closeted Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe. He resides in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.
The front page of the Review Section in today's edition of the New York Times features an excellent coming out article on Kevin McClatchy. The 49 year old McClatchy, is Chairman of the McClatchy Company, owner of the twenty plus McClatchy newspapers, (including the Sacramento Bee and the Miami Herald), and the owner and former General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The timing of this piece by journalist Frank Bruni, could not be better.
National Coming Out Day, held each year on October 11, is one of the most important days of the year on the LGBT community calendar. It is an undisputed fact that people who know an out member of the LGBT community are much more likely to support full legal equality for LGBT people than folks who are unaware that anyone in their family or circle of friends is gay. Silence does equal death for the many young people who commit suicide each year because of their inability to come to terms with their sexuality. Kevin McClatchy, and those who have gone before him, are helping to build self-esteem and counter the internalized homophobia that so many of us in the LGBT community experience, and which can be so deadly to people living in total isolation from their LGBT brothers and sisters.
It has been said that if, at 11am on Sunday morning, every homosexual in America were to turn the color blue, there would be full legal LGBT equality by noon on the following Monday. Just imagine the church pulpits, choir lofts, and pews that would radiate the color blue. However, since that is never going to happen, the next best thing we can do is to encourage and support every closet case we know to come out this October 11.
How many more folks like Kevin McClatchey, Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, Anderson Cooper, and Frank Ocean are out there? People who because of their influence in business or celebrity status, can make such a profound difference in the lives of their closeted LGBT brothers and sisters. I suspect the number is legion. You and I can contribute to the positive impact of National Coming Out Day by taking our own personal next step in the never-ending process of coming out and in supporting and encouraging those people who are taking their first step. The empathy, kindness, and compassion we show to each other, and those who are just coming out, speaks volumes about who we are as individual members of the human race.
Given the various life experience of each of us, everyone's story is going to be different than our own. Fortunately, this is one of those instances where we can joyfully shout: "Vive le diference!"