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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: It's Hard Coming Out

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Northwest Illinois Pride Network
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National Coming Out Day in Freeport, 2020

As the only faculty member at Highland Community College who is openly lesbian (or gay for that matter), I felt I’d done my job for the LGBTQ+ community when I hung a small rainbow flag in my office.  But, twelve years later, I’m still the only one and one of the few in Freeport.

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It is hard coming out.  I’ve met teens who went to Hollywood because their midwestern families threw them of the house, only to be homeless.  I met a trans person who was the butt of the jokes when she joined the staff of a large gay organization.  I met African American men on the “down low” –- living tortured closeted lives.  I met strong, outgoing lesbians with horrible self-loathing.

Harvey Milk, former Supervisor in San Francisco was killed forty years ago for being gay.  He said, “You must come out. Come out to your parents, your neighbors, your co-workers, the people where you shop. . . Destroy the lies, destroy the distortions.”

And that's what members and allies of the Northwest Illinois Pride Network did last Sunday at Freeport City Hall for National Coming Out Day. Join our group!

I’m Kay Ostberg, and that’s my perspective.