Today is National Coming Out Day. And yes, I know you know.
I want to first thank all my loved ones (and even my new friends who I may only know through social media) for tuning in to my zany, gay travel adventures. I have now been an out gay man longer than I was a closeted boy and young person. And yes, that means I’m old.
I believe it is essential that I continue to be visible. I believe it is essential that we continue to be vigilant.
As I share this happy picture of me—a very out and proud gay man—at Stonewall during this summer’s World Pride celebration in New York City, I am both elated by my privilege of living my life so openly in this amazing city (there are still 72 countries where homosexuality is illegal) and devastated by the state of current affairs in the United States.
Just this week, the Supreme Court heard three cases that can ultimately decide if LGBTQ+ employees are protected from discrimination in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.
Does that include sexual orientation or gender identity according to the federal laws of the United States? The Supreme Court decision is expected by June 2020.
The Trump Administration argued that Title VII does not cover sexual orientation or gender identify. It has also stacked federal courts throughout the country and appointed two judges to the Supreme Court to shift our nation’s Judicial Branch toward a conservative, potentially discriminatory power dynamic.
If it hasn’t sunk in, this affects me. This affects my boyfriend of 13 years. This affects my best friends. This affects the diverse members of my LGBTQ+ community.
And unless you’ve managed to live a sad, gray life without ever interacting with an LGBTQ+ person, this will affect a person you love.
So, if you have voted for socially conservative candidates in local, state and national races, I want you to know that you have voted against me, a person you may even love and “support.”
I am happy to be the smiley, rainbow-clad image in your mind when you weigh making these life-changing decisions at the ballot box. Or you can choose some other brother, sister, son, daughter, cousin, Pilates instructor, colorist or beloved cater waiter. But I am coming out to let you know that I—we—need your support and need that support to be stronger than niceties at our next social gathering.
I hope I can count on you. Happy National Coming Out Day.