Saturday, 12 October 2013

Coming Out in the World

Today it’s the turn of the UK to celebrate National Coming Out Day, and here is my list of notable non-Americans who have come out in the past year.

First of al a couple of omissions from yesterday.

25 July             Sarah Hoffman, soccer player
9 Oct.              Abby Wambach, soccer player and Olympic gold medallist (married to Sarah Hoffman, above)

Here is the Rest of the World list

1 Mar.              Richard Wilson, actor
3 Mar.              Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews (on admission of abuse)
12 Mar.            Christopher Maloney, “X-Factor” contestant
5 Apr.               Daniela Mercury, Brazilian singer
7 May               Amina Fonua, Tongan Olympic swimmer
3 June             Sebastián Ligarde, Mexican soap star
4 June             Liz Barker, Baroness Barker, Liberal Democrat life peer
12 June           Dominik Koll, Austrian Olympic swimmer
30 June           Daniel Kawczynski, UK Conservative MP
6 July               Michelle Hardwick, British soap actor
2 Aug.              Sarah Outen, round-the-world adventurer
3 Aug.              Ben Wishaw, actor (Q in “Skyfall”)
14 Aug.            Anton Krasovsky, presenter on Russian television
22 Aug.            Belle Brockhoff, Australian snowboarder
28 Aug.            Casey Dellacque, Australian Olympic tennis player
31 Aug.            Anastasia Bucsis, Canadian Olympic speed skater
2 Sept.             Kate Walsh and Helen Richardson, British Olympic hockey players
13 Sept.           Masha Best, Chair of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights

Before I leave the subject of coming out I’d like to comment on the subject. I came out twice. The first time was to family, friends and work colleagues. This is how the majority of us come out, and that’s how the majority continue to live. They are out to the people who matter in their lives, however many or few that may be. Rather than say they are out “privately” I prefer to say they are out “personally”.

But then I came out again, this time “publicly” by presenting myself to the rest of the world as a gay man and lgbt historian by founding the Nottinghamshire’s Rainbow Heritage project, and creating guided tours of lgbt Nottingham.

Earlier this month I wrote about Professor Peter Coles. In that article I commented that there were very few out physicists. Professor Coles read my article and said that, on the contrary, he knew of many. I suspect everyone can list many friends, colleagues and acquaintances who are openly lgbt, but how many of them are out publicly and have stated they are to the rest of the world? There’s a difference between those who are out personally and those who are out publicly. Many of the people on both of my lists have said they were out personally before coming out publicly.

For me, by coming out publicly I accept that I will be labelled – that’s how society works. I accept that I am no longer a tour guide and historian who is gay, but am a gay tour guide and historian. I am comfortable with, and feel empowered by, my choice.

But that’s me. It really makes no real difference if you prefer to be out personally or out publicly. It’s about what makes YOU comfortable. Whichever way people choose, it must be THEIR choice and not that of others (disregarding cases when abuse or legal action brings it to light).

Celebrate being out in whatever way that makes you feel empowered.

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