Closet doors more open than we think

Adam Griffiths

Two weeks ago, I told you about Jared, my friend who had a rough time dealing with coming out to his parents.

Last weekend, when I called Jared for what’s become our weekly catch-up, he told me about a guy he stumbled upon talking on his cell phone in a study lounge. Jared sat down and started working, but like many of us, couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation this guy was having.

After more than a few obvious lines it was clear: The guy sitting a few feet from him was dealing with coming out to someone pretty close to him.

After the call was over, Jared offered his story, and four hours later, they had bonded over common ground: Coming out in a society that’s generally accepting, but dealing with what to do with a new generation of a minority that hasn’t really come of age yet in the larger scheme of its history.

Today is National Coming Out Day. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the first National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights and the first public unveiling of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

But while both of those events are landmark moments in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender history, their significance seems to be less and less remarkable, and not at large, but within the community – especially among LGBT of our generation.

It raises the bigger question of what it means to be gay at the beginning of the 21st century. It’s alarming that there are some LGBT youth who don’t know what that acronym stands for. Fewer and fewer know the significance of the 1964 Stonewall Inn riots.

When the first generations to enjoy the results of decades of civil rights activism begin to lack the urgency of community awareness that was a reality, almost a necessity for survival, for so long, does that mean the community is dying? We, and our forefathers, fought so long to get to the point we’re at today: The dawn of a future where being gay isn’t an instant condemnation, in which we’re confined to a public image of bathhouses and promiscuity and when people don’t feel defined, so simply, by words.




Our contribution to LGBT history, whether we realize it or not, is the destruction of these social norms that we established based on the society into which we were born. The fire that was ignited when those drag queens started swinging back at police that muggy June morning hasn’t died out. It fuels the easier, “I’m gay,” that comes up in casual conversation among new friends. Of course, it fuels the “fag” and “dyke” epithets, but it also fuels awareness as to the conflict these words instigate. Whatever happened that night led to a more than 40-year transition into a culture that is more open and tolerant and less and less ignorant.

To commemorate this year’s anniversary, the Human Rights Council is asking people to record YouTube videos in an attempt to mirror the AIDS Quilt and create a series about what inspires people today about coming out and living openly. No matter if you’re LGBT, straight or unsure, log on to, and share your feelings:

“Maybe you’ve been out for 20 years. Maybe you’ve been out for 20 minutes. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight, describe how people coming out or just living open, genuine, authentic lives inspires you.”

You might be surprised to find out who you really are and how you really feel.

Adam Griffiths is a sophomore information design major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].