You might have noticed the title includes the letter “K.” Knope, Knot a typo, just letting you know that this week’s blog is meant to be brought to you by the letter “K,” but there were other more important messages to share.
October 11th every year is National Coming OUT Day. If you know my story, you’ll remember that my national coming out day was Thanksgiving of 2016 when my sister told me I was gay. Oh yeah, and “Please pass the carrots.” Can’t make that up, and of course I cried, and then ate my carrots.
National Coming OUT Day is a significant observance for the LGBTQ+ community as well as for our families, our allies, and our communities. On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights (history linked). This year celebrates the 31st year of this auspicious holiday. Thank you to the Human Rights Campaign for their advocacy(videos) around this rite of passage for some, or perhaps another day to stay in the closet for some. This is why school counselors are vital to creating safe spaces for all of those marginalized souls.
I was in the closet for so long because I didn’t know that being gay (and ultimately happy) was an option. Being raised Missouri Synod Lutheran didn’t offer a great deal of hope for females, let alone, females loving other females. We used to volunteer to clean the church on Saturdays. I would always volunteer to go with my mom for the main reason of being able to stand in the pulpit and “preach” whatever was on my mind. You might want to sit down (if you aren’t already) for this next part…I wanted to marry a pastor. Not a female pastor, but a male one. YIKES! What was I thinking? Oh, right, that’s what was modeled for me. As I grew older, I gained more confidence in myself as a strong female. After all, my mother had named me Lisa after Eileen Fulton’s character on the soap opera “As The World Turns,” because she wanted me to be a strong female. Careful what you ask for, right?
Once I realized that I could be the pastor and that I didn’t have to rely on a man. I wanted to volunteer at church to be an usher. All of my uncles were, so why not me? It was then that my relationship with the church, it’s heirarchy and hypocricy changed my views. My aunt was the treasurer at our 100 member tiny church on the hill. I was related to half of the congregation. In fact, if our carload of cousins was late to Saturday/Sunday school, they would wait for us to start. When I told my aunt that I wanted to be an usher, she told me that women weren’t allowed to hold leadership positions. WHAT???!!!??? I’m shaking my head as I write this. So, again, when my sister told me I was gay, I had to face my own coming out rite of passage. My church had let me down. Now what to do?
You go to college, hang out with all of the female athletes, that’s what you do! Too bad I didn’t know what coming out meant my freshman year at UW-LaCrosse. October 11th, 31 years ago would have been the first National Coming OUT Day. I wonder how my life would have turned out differently if I had been true to myself? To every season, there is a reason. Who would have thought 31 years ago, that there would be a presidential debate focused soley on LGBTQ+ issues? That is exactly what happened on the eve of National Coming OUT Day (NCOD).
Cable Network News (CNN) hosted the first ever Equality Town Hall. CNN worked with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) by inviting 9 of the top 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to discuss our issues. Just the fact that we are seeing these discussions and advocacy in my life time gives me hope for the future. Check out the 9 Takeaways from CNN’s Equality Forum. For those of you wanting a chuckle, watch Saturday Night Live’s take on the CNN LGBTQ Forum. You’ll need to watch some of the original footage to understand the SNL skits.
WOW, this was an emotional week for me and writing this blog was quite cathartic as well. Thank you for taking the time to read and maybe even you watched some of the videos I linked for you. My Call to Action this week is realize that the Supreme Court of the United States will decide whether a landmark 1964 civil rights law bars employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender status. We can be fired in half of these United States based upon who were are and for whom we love. Please be our ally and wear your rainbow ribbons, share your stories and together we can shape our policies to become more inclusive.
~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)