Today is National Coming Out Day and for many people, this may seem like just another day. However, for many it is quite the opposite. This day encourages people in the LGBTQ community to be true to themselves in a society which for years alienated them for that very same reason.
It is sad to think that we live in a nation in which our family, our friends and our coworkers feel as though they cannot share their full self because they fear not being accepted. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, transgender or bisexual, the love we want to share with others is something to take pride in, never to hide.
The reason I bring this up is to not only remind you that not every person is able to express who they are to the people they love but also, for some it could be the difference between life and death. In 2015, LGBTQ individuals were statistically the most likely targets of hate crime in the United States. More transgender people were killed in 2015 than in any other year. And we will never forget the tragedy in Orlando in which 49 people were murdered out of hatred while they were trying to enjoy a night out with friends. That is not acceptable, and that is why this day is so important.
It’s on all of us to fix this. This surely is no easy task, but we can all come together to open our hearts and minds to those who need it. No one person is better than any other and we need to create a community that welcomes diversity and individuality. Because without those things, what would we have?
Coming out is about more than love; it’s about bravery and courage. The LGBTQ community has always demonstrated love, support and encouragement for those who need it, and I admire those traits. I will always be an ally to the LGBTQ community so we can further that positivity together. You deserve a senator who isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right and I can assure you, I will always be that person. I promise you that I will represent and fight for all of us in Albany, regardless of who they are or who they love.
Always be proud of who you are. You deserve happiness. You deserve love. You deserve being able to share that love with whoever you want. Embrace your identity. And above all, love yourself, that is what is most important.
If you need support or just someone to talk to, please call the Pride Center of Western New York at 716-852-7743.
Amber A. Small