Why we come out

Zachary QuintoNational Coming Out Day was last week, and on Sunday Zachary Quinto (Spock 2) came out in a New York Magazine interview. It’s been a good couple weeks for the geeky gays – Sean Maher (Dr. Simon Tam on Firefly/Serenity, of which I am a huge fan) came out recently as well.

Quinto posted about why he came out on his blog, and I think his words say a lot about why coming out is so important:

when i found out that jamey rodemeyer killed himself – i felt deeply troubled. but when i found out that jamey rodemeyer had made an it gets better video only months before taking his own life – i felt indescribable despair. i also made an it gets better video last year – in the wake of the senseless and tragic gay teen suicides that were sweeping the nation at the time. but in light of jamey’s death – it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality…
i believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society – and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action. jamey rodemeyer’s life changed mine. and while his death only makes me wish that i had done this sooner – i am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me. now i can only hope to serve as the same catalyst for even one other person in this world. that – i believe – is all that we can ask of ourselves and of each other.

People come out for a lot of reasons. The decision has to be a personal one, has to be about wanting to live our own lives openly and honestly. But a big reason is the power that telling one story can have in another person’s life. I’ve been publicly out as trans for a couple years now, but I still feel a jolt every time I meet an out trans woman who is finding success and living her life happily – it helps me think I really can do this. This is why I tell my story – I want to have the same impact on the next generation.

As I have written before, there is an extraordinary power in telling our stories. It humanizes the issue for people in our lives, and gives them an example of a real person who’s queer or trans, instead of a hateful stereotype. This can be so important in the life of a  young person, especially one who’s queer or trans themselves. They get to see that they could actually exist, could live a life, could be loved.

When I hear, “Won’t somebody think of the children?” I think, “Yes, that’s why I’m out!” I’m very happy to see a celebrity like Quinto say the same thing. Congratulations and thank you to both Quinto and Maher for sharing their truth.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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