Saturday, January 14, 2012

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are!!!

I've always said that the world would be a better place if every single gay, bi, lesbian, and transgender person in the world would just come out.  En masse, if necessary.  That way, there would be no remaining doubt that we truly are everywhere.  We're your sons and daughters; we're your teachers and preachers; we're the beat cop and the sentencing judge; we're your doctor, your lawyer, your boss.  Imagine the difference it would make for the LGBT teen struggling with his or her identity, trying to figure out if they'll be ok or all alone in this cruel ol' world.  Of course, that day may never come and for a myriad reasons.

One of the biggest obstacles, as we all know, is fear.  That's a hard one to overcome.  The "what if" pill is a very hard one to swallow?  "What if" I come out and lose all of my patients?  "What if" I come out and they void my Major League contract? (ask Glenn Burke about that one)  "What if" I come out and get ridiculed at school.  "What if" my family rejects me if I come out?  Well, what if you could come out anonymously?  What if you could write a letter to dear ol' Dad, or the guy who plays baseball on your team, or to your students and tell them your innermost feelings WITHOUT identifying who you are?  Imagine the healing and growth that would come from that.  The simple act of getting it out of your system and committing it to paper is therapeutic in itself.  Add the shield of anonymity, and it's a wonderful tool.

Meet Charity Smith.  Charity is, in her words, a 30-year-old, half-queer lady living in Frederick, MD.  Charity's vision was to create a page where any and everyone could go and come out anonymously.  And, it's catching on.  Sometimes, coming out is a very hard traumatic thing to do.  It's not always easy to sit across the dinner table and tell the family that you're as queer as a three dollar bill.  Telling the wide-receiver that you've been throwing to for the past three years that you think he's really hot and that you'd love to go out with him would be right next to impossible to do.  Unless you were able to do it anonymously.

Project:  OUT, Charity's creation, is exactly that anonymous coming out project.  It encourages members of the LGBT community to share their stories safely by mailing anonymous letters to  whomever it is one would feel the need to come out to.  By keeping it anonymous, the writer is able to be completely open, completely honest about their feelings with the safety net of knowing that no one will ever know who wrote it.  Brilliant idea.

From my perspective, it is my hope that every single struggling LGBT teen will find this page and begin to utilize the unique therapy that Charity has provided.  Imagine the weight off of their shoulders as they begin to open up and pour their thoughts and feelings onto paper!  It is my hope that this will be a catalyst to ending the current plague of LGBT teen suicides.  Time will tell.  Project:  OUT certainly has the potential for making that difference.

Charity's mission is to provide a clear-cut platform for those who are truly closeted to come out, even if anonymously.  At the time of this writing, nearly 7,000 people apparently like the idea enough to have "liked" the page, thus becoming members of the Project:  OUT community.  Now, it's time to see those number grow.  I know that there are a lot of people who can, and will, benefit from Charity's vision.  In a community that's burgeoning with people committed to making a difference, to making the world a better place for everyone, Charity Smith is a rising star!

Keep the letters coming!

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