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Turn Out, Speak Out, Come Out

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Today is the 30th National Coming Out Day.

I started coming out as gay when I was nearly 19 during the summer after freshman year of college. It was a long slog. I had many, many one-on-one conversations that left me emotionally exhausted. I’m so glad I did. I’m now out to friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and more. I met my boyfriend four years ago. We studied and traveled together in Liverpool last year, and now live together in Boston. Every time I meet new people and introduce or mention him I am coming out.

There is no right time or way to come out. Coming out can be to one person in-person or countless people all at once online. I am grateful that my family and friends have accepted and supported me. Not all friends and families do. Those of us who can come out safely must. Even today, coming out is important.

As one of the first openly gay elected officials, Harvey Milk declared that we must come out to “break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions” surrounding LGBT+ individuals. The experience of LGBT+ individuals in the US has come a long way since Milk spoke in 1978. Same sex marriage is now legal nationwide, LGBT+ people fought for and now have access to effective long-term treatments for HIV/AIDs, and the representation of LGBT+ people has increased in music, movies, and (some) sports. But the fight is not over.

On November 6, opponents of LGBT+ rights in Massachusetts will attempt to repeal protections for our transgender friends, family, and neighbors. We must Vote YES on 3 to keep these rights. In their campaign, opponents have resurrected the same sort of falsehoods that Milk campaigned against when legislators in California attempted to ban gays and lesbians from working in public schools. Ignore these lies and Vote YES on 3 to ensure the law grants transgender people the same dignity as everyone else.

Inside and outside of Mass, vote for candidates who will uphold LGBT+ rights and not just pay them lip service (or worse). It is still legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation in 28 states. Some states allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT+ individuals and others permit adoption agencies to deny applications by same sex couples. The current Administration is eager to add a question about citizenship status to the next Census but dropped a proposed one about LGBT+ identity. Hate crimes against transgender individuals are on the rise. This Administration and Congress is no friend to LGBT+ individuals.

National Coming Out Day is a celebration of LGBT+ people and how far we have come. National Coming Out Day is also a reminder that we need to keep turning out, speaking out, and coming out for everyone in the closet today and anyone who we can save from being in one in the future.

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