The 10 Percent: An opened closet door


Editor’s note: Brian Ratto, 27, is a Manteca native living in Stockton. He’s also a gay man. Ratto came out more than a decade ago. In doing so, he joined an estimated 10 percent of the country’s population as a homosexual. This column is written from his perspective and does not reflect the opinion of The Collegian staff.

As an out gay man, I have often asked myself why I am “out” versus being closeted.

“Out” is the term the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community uses to describe being openly gay while closeted means that you are not open about your sexuality.

I know being out is a harder life, but I am able to overcome those obstacles.

Had I chose to live my life “in the closet,” a phrase used to describe a member of the LGBT community that is not “out,” I would be a different person.

For one, I would not be writing this column. I also would not be active in Stockton’s LGBT community. Even with all the trials and tribulations I went through I am happy to be out.

Being out allows me to express myself.

Why do I talk about this?

Tuesday, Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day (NCOD), an internationally observed day of awareness for LGBT members and their allies to come out.

National Coming Out Day raises awareness of the LGBT community and shows those who are closeted that there are people like them out there.

“The fact that society treats you differently after you come out is not right,” said Delta College student Alexander Williams, 19.

Williams came out as a bisexual individual at 16, when he was tired of living a lie. His coming out was prompted by the openness of family and friends to LGBT community.

Coming out at the same age, we had similar worries.

I came out when I was 16, my junior year of high school. I was changing schools and had not met many students, and so I decided if my fellow students asked me I would tell them I am gay.

The fact is being out is one way for LGBT people to pave the path for future generations and open doors that once were closed.

Were it not for Harvey Milk, the first openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor, California State Senator Mark Leno, would probably not be out. Milk paved the way for it to be okay to be gay and a politician.

Had there not been people like Milk and Barbara Gittings, one of the first lesbian activists, Gay Pride and civil rights would not be what they are today.

We would not have equality in the workforce, in housing and, thanks to recent changes, in the military.

Being out led to change.

When children and adults see there is nothing wrong with being openly LGBT more open discussion on sexuality can happen.

Having LGBT role models such as Jane Lynch, a lesbian television and film actress, and Chris Colfer, a gay television star, both of whom are on the show Glee, improves the lives of the future LGBT generations.

It shows them being openly gay is not abnormal.

Open the closet door, take a step outside, look around and you will see the weather is fine.