I feel like I have been talking to a lot of people this week about coming out, the process, the pain, the journey. I think I have been specifically connecting with people to this extent since the blog has been receiving a ground swell of support from people, and I am so happy to be connecting with each of you. A lot of people have been asking about how they should come out, whether to friends, family, or others. I have been putting a lot of thought into this the past couple days, and I wanted to share some resources that I have found really helpful all from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). As many of you may or may not know, I actually spent my fall semester of 2009 interning at the HRC, the largest LGBT civil rights organization in the United States. I specifically worked with their Public Education and Outreach Division, and put a lot of my hard work into the Coming Out Project.
Working four months in this program really changed my life, and has inspired me to focus my work on LGBT people in coming out of the closet. I want to specifically give some focus to the awesome work going on at HRC. Before I say anything, I will critique them in one way, I think they could really benefit from having a full time person working on the Coming Out Project. The site hasn't changed since I have been there, and its kind of sad. Coming out is the framework of helping create stronger allies, the publications and online resources should be updated regularly and kept fresh for all.
HRC publishes a lot of really awesome Coming Out publications that you may enjoy requesting some of, free of course, which you can request using the request form. You can also view any of the publications, plus others, completely free in PDF format. Its pretty awesome how connected they are.
The Resource Guide to Coming Out is the best concise guide with practical steps for coming out and living openly. It gives steps and support for assessing your sexuality, who you think you are, and then most importantly gives you conversation starters for coming out to people. My favorite section in this guide is the awesome reassurance that it gives for coming out to your family. The writers and editors in no way sugar coated the coming out process and have prepared it in a way that could suit people in more supportive environments to people in non-supportive, harsh ones.
My dearest girlfriend, Carmen, and I at the Human Right Campaign, getting ready to march.
The Straight Guide to LGBT Americans provides practical tips and ideas for becoming a supportive straight ally for the greater LGBT movement or just for a friend or family member who might need you. It addresses the issues in a fairly straightforward way. I printed this guide out from the PDF, and I wrote in the margins all these little notes and I gave it to a friend of mine who had never had a gay friend before. It was an opening for dialogue, and I really think he is grasping the idea of being a straight ally. My favorite aspect of this guide is when it addressed people mistaking straight allies with being gay, which I think prevents a lot of people from being vocal. It is put together with help from Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
Living Openly in Your Place of Worship is the final publication I'll talk about today. In Living Openly, you get a lot of ideas and thoughts for being gay and Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and anything else you could imagine, with a specific focus lying on Christianity. We've discussed a lot this week about Pray the Gay Away, the documentary on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and this provide support to people wanting to live openly in their faith.
National Coming Out Day is just important to touch on. HRC always promotes a lot of interesting opportunities on the weeks preceding and on October 11th. If you've never been involved in a Coming Out Day activity, look into it this year.
HRC's Coming Out Project provides other wonderful guides that I fully encourage you to check out from transgender resources to resources for Spanish speakers and African Americans. If you are interested in learning more about HRC and their Coming Out Project, click one of the links above and go to them. I am sure you won't be sorry for it.
I also encourage you to e-mail me, email@example.com. I would really love to be a point of support for you. Just know, I am proud of you as are soooo many people around me and even around you, even if you can't see them.