Come out, come out - wherever you are

Today is Friday, Oct. 11. Something special and exciting is happening. No, it's not your hair appointment, nor is it your quinciŽera. The latter is pretty close, though. Today is National Coming Out Day.

What exactly is that, you ask?

Today is a day for closeted gays and lesbians to break free of that cramped closet to come out and show-off their true selves. For those of us who have come out of the closet, including myself, today is a day for us to celebrate who and what we are. For a ll gays and lesbians, this day serves as a day of pride and representation of ourselves.

Some of you may think that coming out is such an easy thing. I've had people tell me, "Oh just tell your family. It's not that difficult." If it was only that easy. Some people have come out to their families only to be characterized as crazy or confused.

Others have been met by their parents not ever talking to them, treating them like they weren't part of the family.

Some of those who have come out to family and friends have been so distraught over the reaction that they ended their life prematurely by suicide. Telling your family you're gay is not like telling them you got a C- on your humanities exam. Imagine tellin g them that you are pregnant or you have AIDS, and then you know what it's like coming out to your family and peers.

This election year though, National Coming Out Day, and other "gay days" (if you don't know what those are, ask your mother), are overshadowed by Jurassic windbags (a.k.a politicians), extreme right-wing conservatives, and some liberals and Christian grou ps who say that we, as a group, cannot love our mate to the point of marriage or insure them (GAP happens to be one of the anti-mate benefit companies).

They also tell us that we are breaking down the structure of the American family. If some of you don't believe or are not aware of this, turn the page and look for an ad featuring a "former homosexual and lesbian" touting that Jesus can save you from this life of deviancy. Trust me, if you really know who and what you are, there is no way out.

So, gays and lesbians are destroying the average American family due to our influences. As homewreckers, that must mean that we are the cause for the sporadic increase in teen-drug use and tobacco use. Hmm, I didn't know Joe Camel was a homosexual.

We must also be the blame for the high teen pregnancy rate - being gay or lesbian makes that impossible. I must join that new, gay-run mental telepathy network that sends messages exclusively to teens telling them to have non-stop, unprotected sex.

We must also be the cause of the incredibly high divorce rate. Seems that we are heavily recruiting side by side with the Jehovah's Witnesses and other religions, but with a different purpose.

I guess that wasn't Avon that stopped by. With the high rate of battered women and children in this country, we must control our Sisters of Sappho and they must control their temper. It's obvious that heterosexual men would never do this, since heterosexu al men are "normal" and help build a family.

Our best friends, the Christian Right and other conservative Christian groups seem to be the big bully towards us. They tell us that we are freaks of nature. They also believe a 2,000 year old Book, which has been changed completely from cover to cover ma ny times over those years, will change our lives and how we live.

On this National Coming Out Day, none of us are asking for pity. We are asking for understanding and for recognition of who we are. Just because we love members of the same sex, we are not out to convert the world as some would want you to think.

The gay and lesbian community is blamed for many things. But how many of these things are we accountable for? A minute percentage. I'm not saying we're perfect (OK, maybe fashionably), but the scapegoat thing is getting a little tired.

So, for you gays and lesbians in training, Come out, because you may like what you see. For in numbers, as a once-famous group said, "United we stand, divided we fall."

This is our day to celebrate ourselves as well as our background. Be proud of who you are.

Happy National Coming Out Day.

Anthony Ashley is an arts reporter and a journalism junior. He will be spending Coming Out Day with his "family."