Chip Lewis: Why It’s More Important Than Ever To Live Out And Proud

Chip Lewis: Why It’s More Important Than Ever To Live Out And Proud

“It could have been us.”

I kept hearing that Sunday from friends at the Capital Pride Festival and on Facebook.

“It could have been us.”

We know that when we identify as LGBT, we become targets. Whether it’s bullies in schools, politicians who use us to score political points, or those who will go to violent extremes, we know that there are those out there who hate us and are willing to make their hate known.

And we deal with that. We keep it in the backs of our minds at all times. We all know people who have been harassed or the victims of violence, or we’ve experienced it directly ourselves.

We surround ourselves with friends and then we watch out for each other. We live in neighborhoods and cities where we feel safe. And we gather at places with other LGBT people to feel that sense of community and safety.

That’s why this event has shaken my community to its core today. It struck at a place that had become a place where they felt secure and safe and could be themselves. It sets off all of our fears of what could happen to us just because we exist.

So what do we do now?

First, we grieve for our LGBT family in Orlando: those who died or were injured and their loved ones and the entire Orlando LGBT community who have been devastated by this.

Second, we keep doing what we’ve been doing for decades now: be out and proud.

We need to keep coming out to our family, friends, and co-workers. We need to be affectionate with our significant others in public by holding hands or kissing. We need continue to push our elected officials – and those who want to be elected – to support full equality for LGBT Americans and to stop using our community as a punching bag to score points.

And we need to stand up to hatred and bigotry whenever and wherever we encounter it.

There will come a day when this kind of hatred and violence is history. We may not see it in our lifetimes, but it will come. And it’s our job to do all we can to help bring that day closer.

I’m closing this with one of my favorite songs, “O-O-H Child” by The Five Stairsteps. It’s my go-to song when I need to be reminded that there is still hope for the future.

That kind of hope for a brighter future has motivated the LGBTQ community for nearly half a century. That’s the hope we need to continue to hold onto even on dark days like this.

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16 Comments

  1. Mr. Fingers
    June 17, 07:29 Reply

    This is a good message for dem Americans.

    This dude has never been to Nigeria so I won’t heed his advice .

    I will come out when I want to come out and in my own way, no one should set a time limit for anyone to come out.

    • Mandy
      June 17, 07:55 Reply

      It doesn’t have to be about coming out. Considering our lives here in Nigeria, obviously we can’t imbibe this message exactly. But we can modify it to suit our circumstances.
      Living right and proud of our sexuality. Letting your relations in the LGBT community not be a condemnation to others, a reflection of inner conflict, but inspiration to others. Stuff like that.
      The endpoint is that you don’t take fear and recrimination out of this tragedy, but love and a determination to #Live

      (Okay, I’m starting to feel like Kenny Brandmuse)

  2. Canis VY Majoris
    June 17, 07:50 Reply

    “Coming out” isn’t for everyone. Some can, some can’t, some won’t. It is not a compulsory part of being LGBTQACDEFGHIJKMN….

    • Mandy
      June 17, 07:58 Reply

      It’s not.
      But even from the safety of your closet, you should be able to live positively and affect others the same.

  3. Mr. Fingers
    June 17, 08:36 Reply

    Well I think Mandy has said it all.

    I agree with him.

    Enough said.

  4. Delle
    June 17, 11:06 Reply

    Visibility. That’s what we need. Many may argue that it’s not compulsory for one to come out to people seeing as the straights do not ‘come out’. Well, the straights are seen to be the norm. The normal ones. We, on the other hand, should strive to reach that. That point of normality. By making ourselves conspicuous, we become the norm.
    The more visible we are, the less homophobia. That’s fact.
    Few days ago, a very good friend of mine called me. While we were discussing, I told her of my plans to travel abroad (I guess everyone has those plans). She was mute. I enquired to know why she wouldn’t say a thing and she said I’d turn gay if I go over there due to my – in her words – flamboyance.
    “I can’t have a gay friend” she said. Well, I came out to her right then wanting to know what she’d do cos we are really really close. Would my sexuality be chosen over my personality?
    Surprisingly, she did nothing. “I’m not going to judge you. I just don’t understand why a man should like his fellow man. Anyway, your being gay doesn’t affect our friendship. I still love you.” She said via whatsapp messenger. Yes, we are still very close.
    Many a time, it’s easier to be homophobic until u have someone close to you who comes out homosexual. So yes, we need the visibility.

    • Mr. Fingers
      June 17, 11:28 Reply

      Unfortunately the type of visibility that u are talking about is not the type where u ve to tell a few family members and friends about ur sexuality. It’s not a new thing to family members and close friends when u come out, most of them even knew u were gay before u discovered ur true feelings.

      The visibility is the type that includes being an Identifiable face and voice for the gay struggle, wearing ur sexuality on ur sleeve and putting it as a stamp and seal on everything u do.

      • Delle
        June 17, 16:07 Reply

        I disagree with you, Mr Fingers. Firstly, your last paragraph seems to be written out of subtle spite and disgust. No one is expecting you to build an NGO for LGBT folks, no one expects you to sign up as a TIERs volunteer.
        You mustnt make the visibility your persona, yada yada yada.
        Be visible no matter how small. Even if it’s one person (just like in my case) you are able to make at most, tolerant, it’s a huge feat.
        Don’t make it seem like visibility is only achieved when we tie the rainbow flag around our midriff.

  5. Mr. Fingers
    June 17, 20:09 Reply

    Wow,i wonder how u got to that “subtle spite and disgust” part.

    For the records i ve so much respect for all LGBT activists and NGOs including TIERS who i feel ve been doing very well for the community.@Delle.

  6. bain
    June 19, 09:22 Reply

    Only till yesterday….I neva knew a lgbtq society existed in nigeria…..n dat above is not for us…..we can’t kiss n hold hands outside (without gettin lynched)….I sha hope d future is as bright as people say….I hope

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