Coming out hard, but important

Chuck's photo was used in this commentary featured in the Chicago Sun Times by Patrick Finnesay, director Office of GLBT Concerns, Univ. of Ill at Chicago.  Chuck is pictured with Candace Gingrich and James Young.

Chuck states "What is cool about this is that James (JY) and activist Candace Gingrich were there to support me, and the fact that my outing was able to be used on National Coming Out Day."

October 11, 2001

In the 21st century, "coming out" is still difficult for most people.  Despite "Will and Grace" coming out is still a struggle.  I am reminded why when I see headlines that read "Gay adoption ban upheld by US judge." Or I hear Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson say that homosexuals "bear partial responsibility for the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger against America."  Or I have a conversation with a woman who says, " I would be disappointed if my child grew up to be gay."  Despite her claims that it's because of the "world's homophobia", the bigotry that she deplores is the very type of discrimination she is perpetuating.  There is more work to be done, more coming out to do. 

I am aware that everyone's experience is different.  And I am painfully aware of some realities in individual lives that don't allow coming out, such as living at home and being concerned about financial support being severed.  However, I have felt silenced by a society that implies - through its silence - that I am degenerate to be disparaged, subjugated, repressed, suppressed and oppressed.

By giving voice to my identity, however, I affirm myself in acknowledgement of my sexual  orientation - like the person who articulates any reality in his or her life.  Paradoxically, giving voice to homosexuality is also done at the cost of power.  But I have striven to bring my personal, professional and academic voices together to give form and shape to the silence.  While the cacophony can be exhausting, it can also be an exhilarating dialogue, a symphony of discourse.

The only thing we legitimately have to share with another human being is our vulnerability.  And in the process, we experience new beginnings that are almost impossible to predict or even to capture in measurable terms.  Plate cells of this in the Myth of the Cave.  The individuals inside the cave were complacent, but for them to free their souls and enter into knowledge, they had to leave the cave and learn to stand in the blinding light of the sun.  For a more fulfilling life, the had to come out.

Three of my favorite movies are "Tootsie", "Yentl" and "Victor/Victoria," films about false identities and disguises and - for resolution to occur - coming out and revealing the true self.  Individuals who are on the down low (involved with a member of the opposite sex while privately having sex with someone of the same gender) are dangerous because their dishonesty hurts other people physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Coming out is food for a meaningful relationship because it fuels the soul.  It's not about telling people who you have sex with.  It's about how you filter your world, who you cherish, who you share intimacy with, and who you spend your life - not your lifestyle - with each day.

This is why, as we recognize National Coming Out Day today, it's important to respect our coming out.  It's important to have continuing dialogue with our family.  It's imperative that the U.S. judges see that we are already parents of well-adjusted, loving, healthy children.  It's necessary to know that we are your neighbors and friends, heroes, firefighters, and police officers, colleagues, siblings, and relatives.  These things happen because we come out.  Truth has the ability to transform lives.

Patrick Finnesay, director
Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual
and Transgender Concerns, 
University of Illinois at Chicago

Source: Chicago Sun Times