10/10/2012 07:37 BST | Updated 07/12/2012 05:12 GMT

Come Out, Come Out

Come out, come out, wherever you are. It's time to tell your friends, relatives, peers, colleagues, and others that you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer, because the 11th of October is International Coming-Out Day.

You might wonder why it's anyone else's business who you fancy, who you sleep with, or how you define yourself. You might think that it would be an awkward conversation to tell your colleagues at work that you're bisexual, or to explain to your parents that you're polyamorous. You might say that if heterosexuals don't come out, there's no reason for queers to do so. You might think that you coming out won't change anything, so there's no point.

But you'd be wrong.

Well, okay, you might be right about it potentially being an awkward conversation, but it won't necessarily be that way. And you are still wrong about the other things.

If we lived in a utopian world where everyone was accepted as they are, and where we were all encouraged to be our best selves, whatever that meant (as long as it didn't actively harm someone else), then we wouldn't need to come out. We would just go about our lives, dating, sleeping with, marrying anybody (or anybodies!) of any gender, and getting good education and stimulating jobs, and feeling respected in all situations. No laws forbidding us to be who we are. No homophobia/biphobia/transphobia/queerphobia. No harassment or bullying. No glass ceilings or differing treatment. No problem.

But we don't live in that world. Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people don't understand what it means to be queer, and where they fear queers, and where they actively try to prevent queers from having the same rights as non-queers.

That means it behoves us all to make sure that said prejudiced people realise that they do in fact know LGBTQ folks, because contact with a particular group is known to reduce prejudice. If, for example, someone homophobic realises that she or he knows a lesbian, and that this lesbian has many of the same hopes, worries, aspirations, and experiences as a heterosexual woman, the homophobic person ends up having some of their prejudiced views demolished.

Furthermore, if a queerphobic person finds out that she or he actually has an LGBTQ friend or relative, queer issues suddenly become much more present. Queers are no longer some weird group over there; rather, here they are, in your circle of friends. In this way, a queerphobic person can come to understand that in fact, there is nothing to fear. Queers don't want to change the way non-queers live; they just want to have the opportunity to live in the same way.

While it's true that coming out can be a traumatising experience in some situations and it's also true that not everyone you tell will accept the news in a positive manner, in general, you'll find that people are glad that you gave them the chance to get to know you better. They'll appreciate you trusting them, and helping them grow, and they'll be happy to see you living an honest, out, proud life.

So take the plunge. You'll be doing something great for yourself, but you'll also be doing something meaningful for society at large.

Today, dare to tell someone that you're queer. Even telling just one person will make a difference.

Coming out lets you live an honest life, and it also helps others who are still hiding, quaking, in a dark closet, along with educating those who aren't queer but who don't get or care about LGBTQ issues.

Come on out - it's bright and sunny out here.