Happy National Coming Out Day!Happy National Coming Out Day to you, the person who has been out of the closet for years, who has suffered microaggression after microaggression, who faced your parents, your friends, and your teachers, who has heard every name in the book and been out and proud anyway.Happy National Coming Out Day to you, the person who's recently come out, who has happiness and joy, who's breathed deeper since coming out, slept better, seen bluer skies, who has loved and been loved and is still searching for love because it's possible.Happy National Coming Out Day to you, the person outted against your will, the person who wasn't ready, but was forced to be ready, who rose to the occasion, who struggled in silence, who wished they could be different, who finally found peace, who is still seeking peace, in their own skin.Happy National Coming Out Day to you, the person not yet out of the closet, the person selectively out in certain circles, who walks around wishing to be seen, who walks around fearing being seen, who envies, who hopes, who wants, who knows that not right now does not mean not ever, who knows that one day, they'll be ready, who knows we are always waiting for them with open arms, who knows there is always room for another person at this table.Happy National Coming Out Day to those who came before us, the ones who fought at Stonewall, who lived in the closet and out of it, who made our community what it is, who fought for our rights and our visibility, who lost so much during the HIV/AIDS crisis, who persevered though everything in the world said to give up.Happy National Coming Out Day to you, the person who isn't sure where they fit yet, only that they fit here, under this umbrella, under this flag, who knows they want more than what they have, who isn't sure they want a label, who desperately wants a label, who believes that equality means more than the right to wedding bands, who understands how to make space, and how to fight for space.Happy National Coming Out Day to those in the margins, queer, trans, people of color, people who defy gender norms, and disabled people, to those who face discrimination on more than one level, who suffer the most at the edges of our umbrella, who want and need to be seen and welcomed.Happy National Coming Out Day to the kid who feels like they are the only one, who feels like they'll never get out of wherever they are, who feels like they're never going to figure out who they are because they're so stuck trying not to be that person, who has stayed here because they believe, somewhere deep inside of them, that it'll be better, who has held onto hope because they are so, so much stronger than they know.Happy National Coming Out Day to the kid who knows exactly who they are, who can't come out because their life would be in danger, the kid who knows how to hide their tracks online so they can find a community anyway, the kid who finds their way through faith and hope and makes their own space in the world, the kid who knows in just a few years, they'll be able to be themselves, the kid who hangs in there with ferocious tenacity. I am most proud to be a part of this community. Thank you for welcoming me eleven years ago today with very open arms.

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