Unhinging the Closet Doors: If America has come so far, why is coming out still so hard?
In recent years we’ve seen signs suggesting things are getting better for LGBTs in the U.S. For example, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA this summer, three out of five Americans say they accept homosexuality, and LGBT service members can now serve in the open.
These national developments haven’t necessarily leveled the playing field for coming out, though. Beyond basic calculations like, “Who in my family do I tell first? What do I do if it ends badly? Is there a good time to do it?” there are other factors at play. Some might be ostracized by their culturally or religiously conservative families. Others don’t (or can’t) come out until they're elderly. Transgender people sometimes struggle with the right vocabulary to explain their identity. And even being bisexual could draw ridicule from gay friends.
On Monday, December 16th, "Take Two" producer/reporter Leo Duran hosted a Crawford Family Forum discussion to explore the process of coming out. The panel shared how culture, class, and faith have affected their experiences, and shed some light on why some people – even with America’s changing views on the LGBT population – find the process complicated… to the point they’ll choose to stay in the closet rather than come out.
Joe Levy: Korean War veteran, native New Yorker/longtime L.A. resident; active member of Gays and Lesbians Initiating Dialogue for Equality (GLIDE SoCal). Joe is an eighty-something gay American man.
Drian Juarez: Program manager, Transgender Economic Empowerment Project at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center; consultant, workplace transgender issues; certified LAPD trainer. Drian is a Latina Transgender immigrant.
Elisa Oh: Associate producer, The Ken Fong Project (in-progress documentary film); M.Div., Fuller Theological Seminary. Elisa is a gay/lesbian Asian American.
Yolo Akili: Writer (Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Everyday Feminisms); educator, artist, counselor/group facilitator (African American and Latino LGBTQ youth). Yolo is a queer/gay African American man.
Listening to Vietnamese mother talking about fighting to have her gay son accepted is sweet, heartbreaking #KPCCcomingout— Ashley Alvarado (@AshleyAlvarado) December 17, 2013
How do you bring tolerance to small communities or ethnic communities? Levy says you can do that through education. #KPCCcomingout— CrawfordFamilyForum (@KPCCforum) December 17, 2013
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