“National Coming Out Day” Thoughts

Today is National Coming Out Day. It would have been easy to let this day escape my attention, blogging or otherwise.

Alas, I cannot let this day pass without some attention paid it from my unique perspective. It’s been a landmark year of “coming out” on many levels, but this post starts nearly seven years ago with the pivotal night I came out to my very first person — myself.

For nearly 20 years, I’d write in my journal cloaked expressions of “it” and “that thing” without ever explicitly referencing my same-sex attractions — not so much for fear of others stumbling upon my forbidden thoughts, but for fear of my own eyes digesting such impenetrable words.

Then, on the horrid night of November 17, 2006, I finally did it; I came clean. With tears staining my soul, I picked up a pen and wrote down the string of words I’d never fathomed penning for anyone’s eyes to see, mine own included.

I finally looked in the grim mirror and came out to myself. It was a vital first step that preceded this long winding path of vulnerability to come — a path that still very much proceeds to this day.

National Coming Out Day

Image courtesy Creative Commons, Michael Verhoef

The day after I came out to myself, I came out to my parents. Over the subsequent seven years, I’d come out again and again, with family and friends and relative strangers, only to write a book and a blog post this year that finally put the nail in that “coming out coffin.”

Looking back on my last seven years, I feel a bizarre mix of both the highest pride and such sunken sadness. Pride that God has undoubtedly instilled me with supernatural courage for this impossible journey — and yet sadness as I reflect on where I once was and where so many others still reside today:

Alone.

My heart hurts for anyone buried in secrecy today. Burdens that extend far beyond a concealed sexuality.

Today on this National Coming Out Day, I think about all people who are alone. Alone in their secrets and struggles, so convinced nobody can or will hear them, accept them, embrace them. Love them for who they are.

My heart hurts for those people, because I used to be one of them. I still am sometimes, truthfully.

It’s not that I wasn’t raised in a loving family or that I don’t even have a solid friend or two. I was; I do. But it’s one thing to tell a loved one that you’re struggling with a research paper or struggling to find a job.

It’s another thing entirely to divulge that so much of your innate being differs from theirs. Differs from most.

Over the last seven years of coming out repeatedly, I’ve been abundantly blessed by the outpouring of support. I can honestly say my heart feels happier and healthier with this weighty burden forever shed.

Today on this National Coming Out Day, I hope others find a similar freedom as I’ve found the last seven years. I hope kids and teens and adults alike start pursuing those precious first steps into freedom — today’s as good a day as any to start. Even if it’s “just” coming clean with yourself. Or God.

Over the last few months, I’ve received emails from many people struggling with issues across the board, homosexuality notwithstanding. I’d love to hear your story — especially if you feel all alone.

You can email me anytime at tmz[at]thomasmarkzuniga[dot]com.

Regardless of your stance on homosexuality, consider the following scenario:

If someone comes out to you today on this National Coming Out Day — or some other day eventually — how will you respond?

Will you rebuke them? Will you get angry? Will you ask rapid-fire questions, or will you simply listen? Will you hold them or push them away? Will you wipe their tears or add to theirs?

On this National Coming Out Day: Will you help ease another’s burdens today or further weigh them down?

  • MLYaksh

    The knowledge that there those out there who are still living in secrecy out of fear kills me. I have been honored to have friends and loved ones come out to me- and each time, I make sure they know how much I love them. Thank you for not passing over this day, Tom. And for being such an incredible example of Christ-like Love.

    • TMZ

      You da man.

  • I see your servant heart all over this post. You have such a knack for making things that are so personal wonderfully others-centric.

    • TMZ

      Appreciate those kind words, Laura. I honestly really wrestle with that “others-centric” attitude that you described. That affirms me greatly.

  • Rebecka

    I sincerely hope and pray that I’ll never weigh anyone down if they come to me with their struggles, no matter what they are.

    • TMZ

      An awesome attitude to have! A hard one to keep. I have faith in you!

  • Jack

    Tom, this is one of your all-time best posts, and I suspect one that will be long-remembered and referenced by many. By seeing the reality of “coming out” as something much broader than our culture’s momentary gay definition, you focus our attention on the far more encompassing issue — that of being honest about who we are to others, to ourselves, to God. Looking forward to seeing you.

    • TMZ

      You encourage me so much, Jack. Thank you! I can’t wait to catch up soon.

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