It pains me to see that last week, Jazz Alford of Alabama became the 22nd reported transgender homicide in our country. It is heartbreaking to know that 40 percen of the 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States identify as LGBT. And for many LGBT older adults, they must deal with poverty because of a lifetime of employment discrimination.
We must continue to recognize National Coming Out Day until our society accepts the entire LGBT and gender non-conforming community. This includes those living with HIV and AIDS. Coming out with HIV is a difficult step that takes tremendous courage, but sharing ones status helps to defeat the stigma associated with the disease.
Acceptance is not just tolerance and until we reach this point, I fear we will continue to see discrimination, hatred, and inequality.
Coming out is a deeply personal and sometimes difficult decision, but a person does not have to do it alone. Even if only one person is positively affected by National Coming Out Day, I believe we have made a positive influence because no one should have to live in fear, or afraid to be open and true about who they are.