No. And here’s why Coming Out Day, October 11th, is still important.
Because six boys killed themselves in the first six weeks of the 2010 school year. Because nine out of 10 queer students experience harassment in schools. Because there are dozens of gay organizations fighting for rights, and they are desperately needed. Because they are not obsolete yet. Because they should go down in the history books as something we needed, but no longer need. Because my best friend got hit in the head with an apple in the ninth grade and shunned since everyone in her high school thought she was gay, even though she didn’t think so yet.
Because once, a man spit on the sidewalk and it hit my shoe, and instead of apologizing he made it seem intentional by saying, “Fucking dyke.” Because the representations of queerness in the mainstream media is still white, middle- or upper-class, educated, and vanilla. Because if you say nothing, you will probably be assumed to be heterosexual, since that is the norm. Because the cultural recognition of bisexuality is still sub-par, partly because monogamy is still the standard, and people can’t imagine bisexuals being able to be satisfied in a monogamous relationship. For that matter, because monogamy is the standard. Because we don’t teach anyone how to be in a long-lasting, loving, sustainable, healthy relationship. Because this culture relies on romance movies and porn to tell us how to relate to each other intimately. Because there are still so few gay mainstream movies. Because “gay” is (and probably always will be) a genre, a subculture, a marginalized oppressed group.
Because my coming out stories were critiqued as “boring” and without enough “action” in writing classes. Because I can count on one hand the number of butch writers who have widely published their novels. Because we are a novelty. Because we are used for our sexualities.
Because something like one in 10 people are gay. Because being gay was a criminal offense until 1961, when Illinois was the first state to decriminalize it. Because same-sex marriage currently is legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden, and there are some legal rights in both Israel and Mexico. Because in the United States, gay people can only get legally married in five states and one district, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.
Because 30 states in the U.S. have passed laws banning same-sex marriage. Because prohibiting marriage protection to same-sex individuals denies them over 1,000 federal protections and responsibilities granted to heterosexual individuals.
Because in 13 states, queer people are protected by law against gender identity or sexual orientation discrimination in their employment. Because in 30 states, you can be fired for being gay—or on the basis of your gender identity—without any legal recourse.
Because Audre Lorde said, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive,” so I call myself by my true names and I claim the words I need to claim in order to identify myself. Because language matters. Because I love that just-right word of description. Because poetry can change lives.
Because, as Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Because there is strength in words.
Because when we know what to call ourselves, we are less alone.
Because in the 1700s I could have been put to death for fucking my girlfriend the way I did last night.
Because the love that I feel down to my marrow can be called wrong and sick and disgusting and some sort of act against “god,” and because I will never be a full citizen of my country until that is recognized as beautiful, sanctimonious, equal, perfect, gorgeous, glorious.
I know it’s a few days late, but just in case you were wondering, I, Sinclair Sexsmith, am gay, and I identify as a kinky queer butch top, a sadist, a Daddy, a feminist, and a studier and maker of change for all marginalized peoples.
How do you identify?