Today in America we are celebrating our national Independence Day, but I believe it is also the perfect time to reflect on our personal independence, and perhaps to even declare our sexual orientations if we have not already done so.
Last week on Twitter, I suggested that members of the LGBT communities in the U.S. who are still closeted consider coming out today. I make the suggestion only if they feel safe and secure to do so. I’m a bisexual woman who came out in fits and starts over the course of many years.
I told my family and close friends as soon as I understood my orientation. That was almost 30 years ago when coming out was still fairly rare. To say that it was stressful is to understate the experience: I have never done anything that filled me with more horror and dread.
And guess what? It was worse than I imagined. My mother disowned me and actually damned me to hell. We never fully reconciled, and she died still believing that I was an abomination in the eyes of God and man.
My father, to his ever-lasting credit, worked to understand and accept who I am without judgment. It wasn’t always easy, but we remain very close and love each other without reservation.
I told very few people in my work life, and wasn’t fully “out” until I left my employment all together several years ago because of worsening lupus. Honestly, I just didn’t have the guts to be out at work back then, and I still regret that I wasn’t able to do so.
I present my personal history so that readers will understand that I don’t make the suggestion to come out lightly. What I do know is that unless I allow myself to live authentically, to be free to live as I desire, I will never truly be happy and prosper.
And that concept is exactly what the Fourth of July is all about.
The preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence says it all: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...”
The Founding Fathers called equality “self-evident” when the document was drafted in 1776, but we still haven’t achieved that lofty goal. They were white males, many slave owners, who penned arguably the greatest Constitution ever written. Since then, African-Americans were freed. They were given the right to vote, and women eventually followed in being granted the opportunity for their voices to heard in the selection of those who govern them.
Nonetheless, bigotry and hatred remains. People of color, different religions, women, or those of us with different sexual orientations are all too often still victimized. In addition, the country is grappling with whether to allow same-sex couples to marry.
I believe that being able to marry if you are in a same-sex relationship is an “unalienable right,” as defined by the Constitution.
Just what does that term mean? Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, clarifies the term: “You can not surrender, sell or transfer unalienable rights, they are a gift from the creator to the individual and can not under any circumstances be surrendered or taken. All individual's have unalienable rights.”
Thus, if you are an American, regardless of your ethnicity, faith or lack of faith, gender, age, or sexual orientation, you have the legal right to your life; to be free; and to live your life in the way that gives you the most happiness.
Even if you are not a member of the LGBT community, there may be some other aspect of your life that you might want to declare today. I am a pagan, a follower of Wicca. Perhaps you are a pagan, too, or an atheist and you have been holding that within you as a secret.
Whatever is the truth of your life, every American has the right to live it to the fullest, safely and without shame. That is what today is all about.
— The Curator