Today, October 11th, 2010, is National Coming Out Day. It is intended as an encouragement for those in the LGBT community; it is a way of saying that being who they are is more important than remaining in the shadows, and that there is a wide and varied community that supports them.
They definitely need the support.
As I have noted previously, the LGBT community is under a sudden onslaught, an assault on their existence by forces that have been agitating against them since the beginning of the AIDS crisis. Religious fanatics, bigots, and narrow-minded troglodytes see fit to go on the offensive once more, decrying the destruction of the "American way of life" by homosexuals and their brethren. The hypocrisy is not lost to this observer, because I am firm believer in the Constitutional rights to freedom and liberty for all Americans, no matter their sexual orientation. If skin color, religious preference, and gender are not to be used as points of contention where civil rights are concerned, then how can sexual orientation be singled out?
As with all such cases, whether it has been the theory of the Earth revolving around the Sun, natural selection, the age of the planet, or the relative intelligence of the races, the ire raised by the idea of equality for LGBT people is a function of the disruption of the status quo. Long-held beliefs, mired in the ignorance of ages past, perpetuated as "truth" by organized groups throughout the centuries, the idea of homosexuality has gone from a fact of life during ancient Greek and Roman times, to anathema since the birth of Christ. Dehumanization of groups that profess to be different is certainly nothing new, as any witch or heretic would tell us, had they not been charred to cinders while strapped to a stake. The hysteria caused by people of different persuasions certainly did not go away in the "New World"; ask the residents of Salem, if you don't believe it.
Somehow, though, the homosexual has been transfigured into the ultimate bogeyman throughout time. While fighting to free slaves, to end Jim Crow, or to give women the right to vote seem admirable causes, the idea of making gays equal in every sense of the word scares the skin off those closet bigots who "came out" by spreading their invective unabashedly in public. Not one who strides to the podium and rains intransigent homophobic rhetoric down on their admirers would think of uttering the word "n**ger" or any other epithet of such caliber, lest they be condemned wholesale for the act. Yet, to spout hate and bigotry toward homosexuals is seemingly unchallenged by the larger conscience of the nation.
For those of us widely read in the history of our nation, we cannot help but feel that this is how it was before The Civil War, or during segregation and women's suffrage, when aspersions and ignorant attributions were spoken plainly before those affected, with no pretense toward civility or chivalry. It feels as if we are in such a time now, where the pent up frustration of those who have seen so many of their preconceived notions dashed with the passage of time and the wealth of information available is let loose once more, erupting forth like a societal Krakatoa.
In that vein, those of the LGBT community should know this: we are with you. Every American of good conscience, who believes in liberty and justice for all, will stand with you. Like any social war, there are many battles to be fought, and there will times that victories are few. Fear not; for the fight is not the thing, only the mechanism. The true battles are not for hearts and minds, because those entrenched in their views will never be turned. They are, instead, the battles of endurance, of outlasting and out-manning the foe. Every voice raised, every placard hoisted, every march held, shows the forces of intolerance that we will not be cowed. We are here today; we will be here tomorrow. We, the human citizens of the world, will not go away. We will stand, we will link arms, and we will defeat every attempt you make to push humanity back into the closet.