"Don't Be Afraid": Coming Out in Newark

50 years ago on June 28th, newspapers reported an unexpected act of resistance at a mafia-run bar on Christopher Street in New York City. The several days of protest and demonstration that ensued are collectively known as the Stonewall Riots. They marked a turning point in the Gay Rights and Liberation Movement. It is also why June is celebrated worldwide as Pride Month. So, what does Pride Month mean? In the words of the Human Rights Campaign, Pride Month is the only occasion where people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, intersex, queer, or any type of sexual or gender minority can be out and proud in their community. Therefore, Pride festivals and parades that occur during the month celebrate the progress the LGBT community has made, but also recognize the distance this community still has to go to achieve full equality.

“Coming out” is never easy. It is almost never a singular act. For many, it is a process that unfolds over a period of time, with different people finding out in different settings. On this episode, our guests, Christian Valentin-Gladden and Bella Filipe, share what coming out means to them, how it occurred, misconceptions about the process, and what advice they have for other LGBTQI+ folks who want to share their truth with their loved ones.

Self-harm and violence come up in this episode. Below is a link to a resource for those who need help and support.

Background & Articles:

  • The Trevor Project Self-Harm Resource Center: here

  • American Experience’s Documentary on the Stonewall Riots: here

  • Amazon Page for “Becoming Who I Am: Young Men on Being Gay”: here

  • Amazon Page for “Claiming the B in LGBT: Illuminating the Bisexual Narrative”: here

  • Emily Todd Van der Werf’s Vox Article on Coming Out as Trans in Trump’s America: here

  • Newark Pride’s Home Page: here

Guests:

Bella Filipe—Bella is a Newark Native. She is also a former student of the host of the podcast. She currently works at Kessler.

Christian Valentin-Gladden—Christian is a Newark Native. He attended elementary school with the host of the podcast. He currently is a middle school teacher.

Quote:

“When I was a child in Marshalltown, Iowa, I hated Christmas almost as much as I do now, but I loved Halloween. I never wanted to take off the mask; I wanted to wear it everywhere, night and day, always. And I suppose I still do. I have often used liquor, which is another kind of mask, and, more recently, pot.—Then, too, I suppose if my friends have been playing games with me, they might with justice say that I have been playing games with them. It took me almost fifty years to come out of the closet, to stop pretending to be something I was not, most of the time fooling nobody.—But I guess it is never easy to open the closet door.”—Merle Miller, On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual