The spiritual side of coming out

Today is National Coming Out Day, a day set aside as a special time of reflection and celebration by gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) advocacy groups to highlight the unique perspective of GLBT people in “coming out of the closet” to acknowledge, embrace, and communicate their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Despite the wide diversity of GLBT people in our midst, one common experience is that all have gone through a process of recognizing that their orientation or gender identity differed from what their society was telling them it should be. Engaging in this process of “coming out” has helped many GLBT people to develop personal characteristics such as courage, truth-telling, personal strength, and community-building–all inherently spiritual traits.

Coming out entails an inherently spiritual process that makes National Coming Out Day not only a day for secular GLBT advocates to celebrate, but one for people of faith to honor as well. For many GLBT people, coming out is part of a faith journey. They speak of coming out as enhancing their prayer lives and their relationship with God. Many gain strength from seeing their sexuality and gender not simply as biological factors, but essentially as spiritual ones. In the Catholic community, we have heard many stories from GLBT people who found strength in their coming out processes from stories of the saints who had strong, intimate, and life-sustaining same-sex relationships or whose gender identity transgressed societal norms. (Dressing and acting as a man, St. Joan of Arc served in the French army in the 15th century. Transgender people find strength from her example.)

The Washington Post, On Faith website, October 11, 2010

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