Monday, November 5, 2007

The Post-Coming Out Era?

Have we, as LGBT Americans, finally reached a point where pink historians can definitely declare a post-coming out era? This question is one which I have repeatedly pondered over recent weeks as the result of numerous conversations with friends, sources and other contacts across the country. Los Angeles Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez appears to examine the same question in a column published in today's edition. So have we embarked upon a new era?

Perhaps. My roommate Ben came out to his New Jersey classmates before he could legally drive a car. Other sources have told me there is no such thing as coming out among those under 18. I came out in May 2001 upon completion of my freshman year at the University of New Hampshire. I was 19. The experience truly changed my life. LGBT people, for better or worse, have become much more visible since 2001 through "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples in Massachusetts in 2004, former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey's scandalized coming out the same year and a litany of other high-profile events. Many LGBT people in New York, West Hollywood, San Francisco, the South End and other LGBT meccas may yawn at these developments. But Rodriguez correctly pointed out in his column that 45 states (or 49 depending upon one's perspective) have laws on the books which bar marriage (or full marriage) for gay and lesbian couples. Some may live in the post-coming out era. But millions upon millions of LGBT people are across the country still yearn for the chance to come out of the closet and be who they are.

No comments: