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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Not an outing we should go on

As this blog becomes more and more popular and accessible, I want to do my best to make sure that everyone understands that building community cannot happen without also building trust and respect. For the queer community this often has to do with respecting people's right to "come out" on their own terms.

From personal experience, I am suggesting that this is even more important in the Napa Valley, where our small-town vibe also creates a reality of many being connected either by family, friends or gossip.

In whichever ways you might be connected to us and our gay community, please keep in mind that everyone is at a different stage in self-acceptance and willingness to share information about their sexuality and orientation. Please do not make assumptions about how open someone might be...

From HRC's "Straight Guide to LGBT Americans":
"Outing" someone is "Exposing [their] sexual orientation as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender to others, usually without their permission; in essence 'outing' them from the closet."
"Most GLBT people prefer to come out in their own ways and in their own time. 'Outing' takes the decision-making out of the individual’s hands, which can be painful and awkward for everyone involved."
Please help us to make the Napa Valley (and our blog) a safe and welcoming place for all who are here with us. Let us build relationships and a community built on trust and mutual respect. As exciting as it might be to learn of more and other gay people in the valley, please respect people's right to disclose their sexual orientation on their own terms. In other words, ask them before you pass on the word.


  1. I'm really glad you posted this. Many in the gay community get accept at the fact that many "closeted gays" have not come out yet, it reminds me of a Will and Grace episode, where Will forced Jack to come out to his mother and on the brink of doing it, Jack stopped and retreated because HE was not ready. Although that was not real life, many of us are not ready to come out. And the gay community should be understanding of that because many of you were in the very same place that we find ourselves in today. Thanks again for that blog!

  2. We're glad you read our post and commented... (so many read and, sadly, do not comment)

    In addition to letting people come out when they are ready, was it also obvious from the post that I'm hoping people don't find out who's gay (from our site, etc.) and then go tell others and effectively "out" them through their excitement?

  3. Having lost more than one job and person who I though was a friend, I can relate to the sense of self preservation the closet can provide. Yet the stress of constantly having to watch what you say and do, takes a toll. That's why I'm so much more comfortable around gay people, where I don't have to worry about all that acting straight requires. There is also the belief that letting people know who we are helps them to accept all of us, though safety requires being careful about who and when we should reveal to. And there are many of us who just can't hide even if they wanted to. As someone who has been physically attacked on more than one occasion for being perceived to be gay, I can relate to the safety of the closet. Yet, I believe there is much truth in these words from Harvey Milk on the evening of the victory over prop 6:
    "So far a lot of people joined us and rejected proposition 6, and we owe them something. We owe them to continue the education campaign that took place. We must destroy the myths once and for all, shatter them. We must continue to speak out, and most importantly, most importantly, every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is you must tell your immediate family, you must tell your friends, if they indeed they are your friends, you must tell your neighbors, you must tell the people you work with, you must tell the people in the stores you shop in, and once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all. And once you do, you will feel so much better."