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National Coming Out Day: A Letter of Hope

By Rachel Barnett

Friday, Oct. 11, is the 31st annual National Coming Out Day. More information is available from the Human Rights Campaign.

In Carolina De Robertis’ 2017 book Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times, novelists, poets, political thinkers and activists write letters to their children, ancestors and even strangers with the intent of sharing their love and inspiring courage in order to help overcome the fear and uncertainty that is pervasive in the United States’ current political climate. In the spirit of Radical Hope and in the recognition that difficulties persist for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff and folks in our community, I write this letter for all my LGBTQ+ friends, family and acquaintances, as well as strangers I have yet to meet. I love all of you as you are and hope you will continue to have the bravery to shine your light even during these dark times. I wrote this particular letter to a student who has shown me through her own bravery and courage what it truly means to live your values.

Rachel's Letter to Chloé

Dear Chloé,

You are amazing, and I am in awe of all that you have done with your 22 years of life on this earth. At the tender age of 4, you already understood the preciousness of life, something that takes some of us our entire lifetime to understand if we ever truly understand it. Perhaps this is why I see you stand by your convictions, speak up and voice your concerns even when doing so puts you in danger. As a staff member, I believe I am supposed to be a model for you, and I hope that I am. But you show me day after day what it takes to truly live your values, and I want you to know that your bravery does not go unnoticed. This letter is a small but hopeful act on my part to show you that I care and support you.

You said to me the other day that it was not easy to be queer and live in the Midwest, but you love the Dayton community despite all of the difficulties you have had to endure. Your strength is one of your gifts, and I know that struggles are part of what makes us who we are, but it hurts me to know how much you have already endured and may continue to endure in your lifetime. No one should have to get used to microaggressive acts, bias-related incidents, hate speech or violence. Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their own home, and it angers me to know that some folks would try to take that away from you. Your ability to continue to love this community in spite of it all is inspiring.  

You will be graduating soon, and who knows where your future will take you. I know that we all work to create the world we want the future to become, and I have no doubt that you will use your ability to love in service to social justice. As Brooks (2017)* argues, love is a form of resistance to erasure and dehumanization. While some may fault you because of whom you love, please remember that love is a revolutionary act that can and does change the world.

Thank you for reminding me daily of what it means to be a good human.

― Rachel Barnett is an access services specialist in the University Libraries.

Work cited

* Brooks, D. (2017).  (Re)conceptualizing love: Moving towards a critical theory of love in education for social justice.  Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, 6(3), 102-114.

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