As you may or may not know, tomorrow, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day. For many (like myself), this is a day for celebration among members of the queer community. For others though, being openly gay or accepting of the queer community may not seem like a realistic prospect. Maybe your friends like to throw around homophobic slurs. Or maybe you struggle with the religious implications of your sexuality. Or maybe you simply feel that to acknowledge being anything other than straight would compromise your very self-identity. I can sympathize; I’ve been there — just over a year ago.
Over time (and trust me, it’s a slow process), I came to realize just how unfounded my concerns were. Little did I know we attend one of the top 25 LGBT-friendly universities in the country. So if you’re struggling (and even if you aren’t, you probably have friends who are), I urge to revaluate the validity of your fears, if only for a moment.
After much stress in anticipation of coming out, in reality it could not have been more boring and uneventful when the time came for me. The typical reactions: “Okay. Another round of Smash Bros. then?” and “You’re far from my first gay friend. Sorry, but you’re not special.”
The truth is, most people under 30 these days just don’t give a flying fuck. Yeah, they might throw around “that’s so gay” and “no homo” or even the other f-bomb, but these phrases have their origin in a different time. My friends (the closest of whom are mostly straight males) still slip up sometimes, but I know they don’t mean to offend. I think this holds true for most people; they simply don’t consider the implications of their words. So while this nonmalicious ignorance remains common, the true raging homophobe is, fortunately, a dying breed.
If not for yourself though, (and let me tell you, being able to freely enjoy all aspects of I.V. culture is pretty sweet) consider this: We so commonly see sexually overt parades, drag shows and exaggerated TV characterizations as exemplars of the queer community. Consequently, we have a hard time embracing that culture because it seems so counter to our own. But we forget the association exists only because it represents the most unique and extreme aspects — the results of those brave individuals who don’t have the luxury of a closet to hide in. What’s important to realize is that you can play sports, dominate at Snappa, rush a fraternity (and even be president of it), and be gay, or bi, or just very curious. The most powerful thing you can do to change those misguided perceptions is to simply be true to yourself, and of course, to have a sense of humor about it.
So my fellow LGBT-ers, let’s be great together, and let’s get bitches/bros tonight!
Evan Graves is a fifth year computer engineering major and media coordinator for the Queer Student Union.
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