Thursday, September 21, 2006

Letters to the Washington Blade

The column in the Washington Blade has generated some letters. I've reprinted them in their entirety below (although I have corrected the spelling of my last name which is ENSZER - without a second "n").

Coming out isn’ta one-time thing
To the Editors:
In the press tour leading up to her debut in the CBS anchor chair, Katie Couric has said repeatedly that she wants to put more humanity into the evening news because that is what people connect with.
Maybe you love Katie; or maybe you’re over her. Either way, she makes a strong point. Human stories, connection to real people’s faces, feelings and experiences are powerful and poignant.
The piece that ran in last week’s Blade (“Getting over coming out,” op-ed by Julie Enszer), seems to have forgotten that lesson.
To say that National Coming Out Day is only relevant to people just coming out is tantamount to saying that birthdays are only for babies turning 1. While the first coming out, and the first birthday, are important and set the tone for what’s to come, they are only the beginning of a lifelong process.
Research has shown that while most GLBT people would like to have more dialogue with their straight friends and family about what their lives are like, they hold back because they’re afraid of sounding shrill or seeming like “activists.”
At the same time, many straight friends and family of GLBT people have reported that they would like to ask more questions and learn more about the daily experience of their GLBT loved ones, but they refrain from asking because they are afraid of invading privacy and having things “get weird.”
Coming out is a first step. Learning to talk openly and naturally about your life, what it’s like to be GLBT or straight supportive and to bring those conversations to the family dinner table, to the doctor’s office, to the office, your place of worship or anywhere else you may find yourself — is something else entirely.
Editors’ note: The letter writer is director of HRC’s Coming Out Project.
And this one at
Getting it wrong
on coming out
Re “Getting over coming out” (op-ed by Julie Enszer, Sept. 8):
Julie Enszer has lost sight of what’s important. I agree that “coming out” isn’t enough by itself. But it remains the most potent weapon in our arsenal. She might be impatient with the pace of progress, but there is absolutely nothing wrong when someone achieves “the most liberating and truthful thing I’ve ever done.” I just began the process of coming out last year at age 24. It’s the most important decision of my life thus far. Isn’t the act of coming out, when repeated by thousands, the very definition of collective action?
So coming out of the closet won’t guarantee equality for us. Staying inside the closet will? Get real! Coming out is just one of several strategies we must use in our struggle, and it’s not about narcissism.

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