India is an LGBT minister with a passion for promoting LGBT rights.
What Does It Mean to "Out" Someone as Gay?
Outing someone remains a taboo and a social faux pas surrounding the rights of a gay person to keep their sexuality concealed. In these modern times, you would think that keeping such things quiet—being gay or lesbian—would not be a big deal. In reality, it can be a huge deal for some gay individuals, and in some instances, a dangerous game of life or death.
Is Outing Someone Considered Sabotage?
Human sexuality is a very personal and private issue that remains a very hot topic among the homosexual as well as the heterosexual communities. From far left to far right, the political, religious, and social correctness varies widely. Today, we will be taking a close look at some of the reasons people have for believing outing someone who is gay is the proper thing to do, while others find it to be a complete and utter act of personal and social sabotage.
Outing Gays From an Insider's Point Of View
As a card-carrying "out" lesbian, I have a pretty significant point of view when it comes to outing someone's sexuality. In our LGBT community, outing is a pretty big no-no. However, even among our own population, the debate can get heated.
Some homosexuals consider outing as a political duty, having the attitude of, "if you are going to be it, live it." Well, in reality, this live out loud mentality simply can't work for everyone. Many LGBT people have perfectly legitimate reasons for staying in the closet, here are just a few of those very real reasons.
Reasons for Not Coming Out as Gay
- Threat of death or violence
- Living in a dangerous (bigoted/prejudiced) environment
- Fear of being excommunicated from church community
- Being exiled from family due to lack of acceptance
- Loss of job security, discrimination laws not followed
- Social ruin in certain circles
- Late homosexual awareness in a hetero marriage
If you think about it, any one of these reasons would be good enough to remain a closeted person. The safety of one's physical, mental, social, familial, and religious well-being has a meaningful impact. Even if only perceived as a threat in these areas, the process of keeping confidentiality around sexuality has to be honored. Without this respect, should things go wrong and harm occurs, the liability surrounding those who encourage hate crimes (even unknowingly) these days can become a shocking and life-changing event of a whole different kind.
Strength in Numbers: Why It's Important to Come Out as LGBT
As the gay community struggles to fight for equal rights in all things, it has never been more important to be counted. For today's youth who are discovering who they are, this is especially important. As the older generation, adult gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have an obligation to blaze a trail of safety and acceptance. We are responsible for leaving behind a legacy of worthiness.
As a female, every time I walk up to a voting booth to be counted, I thank those strong, brave women of the suffrage movement for their belief that they deserved equal rights. I want our LGBT young adults to have this same feeling of gratitude and awareness when they say, "I DO," or when they undertake any other practice that may currently be denied our community.
What You Think Really Does Matter!
Differing Views Among Religious Leaders
Even among the religious leaders of our time, we find some broad and varying views on outing gays. If you are an LGBT minister (as am I), you struggle with the concept of other ministers who teach a congregation that being homosexual will have negative results on their access to a promising afterlife. What the congregation is unaware of is that their very proper straight and married minister spends his spare time fondling other dudes.
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More than once, we have been the surprised victims of those who would hide behind religious hate for gays while living a secret life of homosexuality themselves. So, in this case, is it okay to "out" such hypocrisy? I shout a resounding "YES"! Now, I am sure that several religious leaders would beg-to-differ with me on this point . . . and for their own personal reason, I would imagine.
More an Intervention Than an Outing
Here is the thing—if you have such self-loathing for who you were born to be, and if it differs so very much from your chosen profession's belief system, then maybe it isn't the gay thing that's the problem. This kind of hypocrisy becomes hate very quickly. If your religion says gays are bad, then my recommendation would be (if you are gay) don't pick it as your career choice!
Hate in Sheep's Liturgical Garments
Nurturing hate due to the things you can't accept in yourself is an illness that requires treatment. Being gay is NOT the illness; the illness is the hate. This flawed personality type should not be leading a religious movement of any kind. In my opinion, outing this kind of harmful person is more of an intervention than it is an outing.
When we consider how this person has cast hate throughout a congregation for profit or self-worship and the number of silent suffering youth who may be residing in this church, the damage becomes unmeasurable. The sad thing regarding this personality type is that he is not the only one who gets hurt; his church and beyond feels this destruction and betrayal. When this clergyman is outed, it is sure to end his career, but it can also ruin his home life, social status, and of course, his romantic future. It truly is a no-win situation.
Politicians and Homosexuality: The Politics of Outing Gays
As with religious leaders, politicians are held to higher standards. Among those standards that "matter" is honesty and integrity. When a politician is supporting legislation in favor of anti-gay movements, yet is in fact gay himself, this presents particular struggles for the people. If a political animal shows one face to the people and another in the bedroom, this rings loudly as hypocrisy.
For most American people, if there is one thing we demand in our governing leadership, it is integrity and honesty. Okay, I can hear you laughing at that statement; but this is truly what we hope for in our politicians, and when given the chance to uncover wrongdoing, we will jump at it like hungry hyenas. Voting and campaigning against LGBT rights on the same day you are meeting your same-sex partner for lunch is certainly going to lack the appearance of both integrity and honesty. Thus, be prepared to endure the wrath of a public outing by media and those who oppose your political arguments.
When Should Someone Be Outed as Gay?
When thinking about the reason for and against outing gays these days, I suppose no one real answer holds true for every situation or person. It remains, and probably will for a long time, a topic that needs individual assessment. What may be right in one situation may be extremely wrong for another.
No matter the personal, political, religious, or social reasons, as long as no one is being lied to or potentially harmed, I have no problem with leaving the closet door firmly closed. But, when even a minor bit of harm is seemingly possible because of a closeted leader, I might just be the first one to enlist the help of a closet door locksmith.
- The Trevor Project — Saving Young LGBTQ Lives
A national 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.