As I explained many things to her, I debunked a lot of myths and stereotypes about the LGBT community along the way. To me, coming out is much more than telling people that I am gay. It also means an obligation on my part to educate people around me, to pave the way for better understanding of the LGBT community in society. Furthermore, the most important significance is to let people whom I care for, to understand me for who I am.
I complained to my friend that there is still a lot of negative social stigma associated with gays and lesbians. She replied, 'Actually the situation now is considered good. If you told people that you are gay, like 10 or 20 years ago, people would just immediately conclude that you have AIDS.'
It is so true, and it dawned upon me how far we have come and how much our brave predecessors have achieved. Suddenly I felt so blessed being able to acknowledge to myself that I am gay, and tell people that I am gay without fearing persecution. However, the future journey is arduous, and far from complete. It is really up to us, to take more steps forward.
I am beginning to see that the most powerful form of activism is actually coming out. It is more powerful than gay pride parades, blogs, talks and forums, petitions and any other form of activism. It changes people's misconceptions and mindsets fundamentally, because they know me as a real person, and I am exactly the same person before and after they found out that I am gay. Nothing has changed, and being gay is only a part of my overall identity. My sexual orientation is not a fashion statement which I feel compelled to wear on my sleeve, but rather a part of myself which I prefer not to hide consciously, if the circumstances permit.
Only when queer people are not merely names in the afternoon/ evening tabloids, but family and friends of every one of us in the society, then we can remove the negative social stigma. I can see it happening right beside me. I have friends who used to have negative perceptions of homosexual people but they are becoming more open-minded and accepting. I have guy friends who know that lesbians are not just butches and femmes and understand that lesbians are not waiting for the right men. I have lady friends who have no qualm about joking with me that they will love to marry me despite being well-aware of my sexual orientation. I love the way how it manifests to become a deep-rooted understanding, instead of superficial acceptance while sweeping everything under the carpet in denial.
I feel stronger and less vulnerable every time I come out to another person, and I do hope that I will be strong enough one day to take the step in my family. I will be invincible once I achieve that.