Yay! It’s National Coming Out Day! The day when we encourage people to be honest with themselves and others about who they are. This can be a really fantastic thing, and one that people find liberating. It can also be painful and cause rifts among family and friends.
Let me start by saying that I am really an alien robot sent to study you human beings. And let me tell you, you’re hilarious! Will add that to my About page, along with “Kinky, bisexual, atheist, feminist, geek”.
However, what I really want to discuss in this context is intersectionality. For those who don’t know, intersectionality is a concept in social justice circles that discusses how oppression and the use of power to control others is not something that’s limited to one minority or another, but a consistent abuse perpetrated by the corresponding majorities. So white people oppress racial minorities, men oppress women and gender non-conforming people, straight people oppress queer people, etc. It’s important to realize this because it encourages minority groups to band together to combat a more general sense of oppressive power, even if it doesn’t affect them specifically.
For example, I am a proud feminist. That comes with a lot of implications. First, it means that I will be despised by a decent amount of the internet, but the feeling is mutual so no issues there. Secondly, it means that I think women are real people who should be treated with consideration and not have to clear extra hurdles just to accomplish the same things as men.
But, of course, I’m a man. I was both born male biologically and identify as male. I have no reason to deal with people who demean women. Except that I am queer. I am kinky. I am an atheist. And I know what it’s like to deal with shit for no other reason than that you are not like most people. While I would never and can never claim that I know exactly what it’s like, I can make an educated guess at it based on what experiences I have had.
Injustice is not something that we should accept. Any argument that suggests that inequality or different treatment for people who are not inherently harmful is somehow ok (or even right) is automatically unjust. It ignores the shared humanity of people in favor of a constructed hierarchy.
Many groups have appropriated the “coming out of the closet” metaphor to represent their struggle to be open about who they are, and I think that’s an excellent thing. We should be united by our opposition to injustice, we should rally around the idea that we all deserve to be treated with the same consideration.
On National Coming Out Day, we have a chance to express ourselves in ways we didn’t before, secure in knowing that we’re not alone in the world. This is also a chance to reflect on the idea that we’re not alone in our struggles. People struggle every day for no other reason than that they are disabled, or American Indian, or a transman, or any number of things that should play no factor in their employment, or marriage, or child custody, or whether they’re more likely to be harassed by the police. Some things can be hidden, some can’t, but they all play a part in the complex lives we lead, and none should be treated as indicative of a person’s character or abilities.