Today I celebrated National Coming Out Day by having lunch with my awesome girlfriend. We didn’t realize it was National Coming Out Day until we walked into the cafe and saw a sign mentioning it. We just like having lunch together. Still it felt like a particularly awesome occasion to be out in public together. We were both tickled to see a guy walk in wearing a t-shirt that said “Ally” across the chest.
That was the easy part of coming out day. I’m out about my relationship with this amazing woman in all parts of my life, and having lunch with her is always a treat.
For a trickier celebration of this day, I’m going to talk to my kids about the fact that it’s National Coming Out Day.
My kids are 8 and 5. I expect this to be a short, possibly awkward conversation. Hot topics to cover: What is coming out? Why is it important? Why do we need a special day to celebrate it? The end.
Since pop culture is one of my favorite parenting tools, this conversation will probably involve talking about some of the characters on Glee. My kids are baby Gleeks, and I think they’ll relate to the coming out processes they’ve seen on TV. Thanks for that, Glee. Your courage in modeling normal relationships between teenagers who happen to be same sex couples has been an awesome boon to the world.
I think I won’t offer my own coming out stories unless they ask. They know I’m married to their dad and dating my girlfriend. We can talk about labels like “bisexual” when they’re older.
There are a lot of right ways to have this conversation, and a lot of conversations to have with kids at different ages. Every family has their own approach to dealing with these things, and their own stories to tell. The Huffington Post ran a great article a few months ago about different parents’ experiences with talking to their kids about gay identity. There’s also the wonderful It Gets Better project, full of creative and moving videos. You might want to watch these yourself and choose a few that seem age appropriate, depending on the ages of your kids.
What matters to me now is that my kids and I have some direct conversation about GLBTQ issues. It’s great to let them absorb values by osmosis, but every once in awhile I feel we also need to use our words and tell our kids where we stand on important issues. National Coming Out day seems like a great day to talk to your kids about gay rights, whether you’re a GLBTQ person yourself or a straight ally.
What do you think? Will you be talking to your kids about National Coming Out Day?