National Coming Out Day is a time to celebrate the strength, courage and fortitude of individuals who "come out of the closet" as being different. While this annual event is widely perceived as the day on which people are supposed to decide to come out to friends and family, many others view National Coming Out Day as a day to look back on and celebrate their successful journey toward fully accepting who they are.
Typically, part of the experience of being "in the closet" for any length of time is a fear of losing or becoming estranged from family. But it can also involve a fear of not having a family of one's own in the future too.
Growing up in the South, as I did, you rarely hear of families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). This realization can be scary for those who are family-oriented and want a family of their own, and it was one of my biggest concerns growing up gay.
The good news is that there is hope for the new generation of young adults who are LGBT. As we share and learn more about diverse family structures, more youth come to envision the possibility of having a family of their own. Being "out" as a family is finally -- and thankfully -- becoming more common.
As the newer generation grows older and gains interest in starting families, we now can look to elder generations for wisdom and guidance. These established families have paved the way for us, having gone through myriad trials to help society understand what a real loving family actually looks like.
Now I have the privilege of seeing the results of decades of advocacy and visibility through my work with the Family Equality Council, an organization that works to promote the best interests of families that have parents who are LGBT and make those families visible to the America public. I see their joys, their triumphs, their trials and their challenges, and I draw inspiration and hope from the success of their journeys.
What better way to celebrate National Coming Out Day than to highlight some of these families, and to share their stories, wisdom and advice with those who may soon follow in their footsteps.