People think that Halloween is the holiest holiday in the LGBTQ+ calendar, but this is not correct. Today is the holiest day, and I almost missed it. Today is National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, which according to Life Site News was founded in 1995 by ex-gay advocate Michael Johnston. (Ordinarily I would point backgrounder links at Wikipedia, but in this case both of these topics are MYSTERIOUSLY ABSENT.)
National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day celebrates former homosexuals. Finding official pages about the holiday is difficult because they are also MYSTERIOUSLY ABSENT from my search results, but according to third party reports Coming Out of Homosexuality Day honors the changed lives of thousands of men and women who formerly identified themselves as gay. Once upon a time people of alternative sexualities had little vocabulary to describe themselves. Even lesbians called themselves “gay”. Now, thanks to decades of LGBTQ+ activism, we have a rainbow of labels to plaster on ourselves, from “twinks” to “demisexuals” to the ever popular “heteroflexible”. We are no longer limited to putting ourselves in the stifling box of “gay”.
But Coming Out of Homosexuality Day has a more serious purpose. Do you know of people who are struggling with their homosexuality? There are many resources on the internet you can point them to. Exodus has rebranded itself as Changed Movement, a “community of friends who once identified as LGBTQ+”. You can take a Journey into Manhood on the Brothers Road (formerly known as “peoplecanchange.org”). Then of course there is Focus on the Family, which has a phenomenal Frequently Asked Questions section, which you should all read even if you are not struggling with same sex attraction (hi Deedles!).
Honestly, the Frequently Asked Questions page makes for fascinating reading. If your mind has been poisoned by the liberal sex radical Dan Savage, this is the perfect antidote. Savage frequently counsels callers who struggle with visiting their religious parents over the (straight people) holidays, but have you ever considered the other side? The advice from the anti-Savage is both what I was expecting, and not what I was expecting at all.
The ex-gay movement gets a bad rap these days. For example, the aforementioned Michael Johnston got into trouble when it was revealed he was having unprotected hookups with men (and possibly infecting men with HIV in the process). Any number of ex-gay leaders subsequently dropped out of the movement and turned homosexual again. But I have more than a little sympathy for it, and not just because I am a self-loathing homosexual. I’m not on board for the Jesus stuff (more’s the pity), but I honestly think that more than a few of the advocates most involved in the movement acted out of love, not hate. I listened to a series of interviews with former Exodus leader Alan Chambers. There is no question that Exodus and its brethren have caused harm to many, many people. There is no question that some people in the movement were (and are) cynical fundraisers preying on people’s ignorance and fears. But from listening to Chambers’s interviews, and from associated with some mild homophobes in my own social circles, I do not feel our demonization of them is accurate. (I also feel that if bisexuals exist they have a lot to answer for, but that is neither here nor there.)
Furthermore I think that the techniques they use to lure self-loathing homosexuals work because they reflect some of the actual struggles gay people face. Furthermore, I think that gays inflict some of these struggles on each other (Grindr, anyone?). None of us want to admit this (victim blaming!) but I see evidence of it all over the blogosphere.
Although National Coming Out of Homosexuality Day is not widely remembered, I think it is important. It is important to understand what people thought and felt in the bad old days when stores did not festoon themselves with Pride flags. It is important to understand the humanity of those who went through the ex-gay movement and those who cling to it still. History repeats itself, and we have new targets now (transpeople, drug addicts, sex workers), and when the liberal media shoves this stuff down the memory hole then we lose something important.
So Happy Coming Out of Homosexuality Day, everyone. I hope you have a joyful celebration, and you don’t let the spectre of National Coming Out Day* tomorrow hang over you too heavily. (But Steven should still come out to his high school friend and his uncle whether he wants to or not.)
* Oh look. National Coming Out Day is on Wikipedia. How mysterious.