On Oct. 11, we celebrated National Coming Out Day. Oh, how happy I am to live in a time and place where coming out as LGBTQ+ is not only tolerated, but something to be proud of.
However, I wonder what it would be like if we were to exist in a society in which coming out was a thing of the past. What would it be like if we were no longer defined by our sexuality and rather labeled based on our values and intrinsic qualities as human beings? Our worth as a person should never be based on our sexual preferences. Is it possible to create a world in which we can love whoever we love without being interrogated about our labels? Can we undermine the emphasis placed on sexuality and accept one another for who they are without caring about who they choose to love? I long for a world in which this becomes the norm.
We should aim to move toward a society in which labels no longer exist. We could begin by eradicating the emphasis placed on specific labels and focusing on ourselves as people. It seems counterintuitive to force everyone to label themselves upon discovering their sexuality. That is something that takes time and effort and is solely the business of the person to whom it applies. Examining your innermost feelings to determine whether or not you’re bisexual, gay, straight, queer or anything else is something that can be quite stressful and is no one else’s business than your own.
It is also important to keep in mind that no two people are the same. While one person may decide that their sexuality does not define them and choose not to label themselves while still embracing their sexuality, others may find their sexual orientation to be an integral part of their identity and decide to come out publicly. Neither of these decisions are incorrect in any way. Rather, it is a matter of personal preference, and we should respect the choices of others - especially regarding something so intimate.
On National Coming Out Day, Lin Manuel-Miranda tweeted: “At your pace, on your terms. Your happiness and safety are paramount. Sending endless love and courage your way.” The “Hamilton” playwright wanted to emphasize the importance of being safe and to not put yourself at risk to come out on a specific holiday. Make sure you are in a position in which you will be safe and supported before doing so, but you should not lie to yourself and others about who you are. You deserve happiness, regardless of what others may think of your sexual orientation. They are not you, and no one has the right to wield that level of power.
Someday, in the not too distant future, I believe that labels will be a thing of the past. That people will be accepted as they are, and that we won’t insist that they share every intimate detail of their lives, unless, of course, they choose to.
Happy belated National Coming Out Day. I love you all.
Hannah Whitaker is a UF English junior.
The legs of costumed people participating in the annual Gay Pride event in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday Oct. 26, 2019. Thousands took part in this 30th edition of the Gay Pride. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)