Today is National Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. This day is meant to create a welcoming and safe environment for the LGBTQ community, where living openly and honestly is possible for them.
It’s important to note that while this day is celebrated for many members of the LGBTQ community, not everyone is in a position to be “out” in many aspects of their lives — and that’s okay! That doesn’t make this day any less valid for those who have to protect themselves.
Texas Democrats support and welcome all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. In honor of National Coming Out Day, we sit down our own West Texas Organizer, Stuart Williams, about being a part of the LGBTQ community and working in politics.
Stuart Williams, West Texas Organizer for the Texas Democratic Party.
What does “being out” mean for you?
Closets are for clothes and the 20th century. “Being out” is much more than simply declaring who and what you are. It is embracing that simple respect every person in this country deserves: “I’m not demanding to be included; I’m asserting my right to be here.” Being out for me in asserting the full measure of my citizenship; to live and laugh and love as a Black queer man in Texas.
How would you describe your experience as a member of the LGBTQ community, and working in politics?
I have been blessed to meet so many wonderful LGBTQ leaders and allies throughout my political experience. I think it would truly shock many, who aren’t pay close attention, how many LGBTQ people are involved quite deeply in politics. On the whole, it has been a marvelous experience to feel accepted by so many.
It is important, nevertheless, that we continue to seek inclusion, and not merely acceptance and also, that we continue to uplift black and brown queer people and center them in our political life and movements. They have a lot to offer the world, which she would suffer, should they be excluded.
Do you feel that queerness is political? Why or why not?
In my experience, folks don’t like someone who’s too proud or too free. And that is queerness; it is loud and proud and it’s not gonna take it anymore. Every struggle since Stonewall has been a hard, political fight against entrenched political opposition. When men, like my uncle, were dying of AIDS, Republicans said nothing. Even AIDS, original name, GRID, stood for “gay-related immune deficiency.” And still today, I and others cannot honestly even donate blood. You bet queerness is political and can be a powerful weapon in the fight for equity in our time.
"Queerness is inherently political in this country and this state. It always has been and always will be."
Do you think that it’s a good thing that the LGBTQ community is shifting towards reclaiming “queer”?
I personally celebrate a shift towards the term queer. The compartmentalization of queer people into “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bi,” is both inadequate in the description and narrow in definition. “Queer” united all of us brothers, sisters, they-dies, and gentle-them under a term that is, at least to me, more expressive, more inclusive, and more representative of the solidarity LGBTQ people must have, for the challenges facing us across society.
How does it feel to work with Texas Democrats as a member of the LGBTQ community?
It is quite rare, unfortunately, in the experience of many LGBTQ Texans to work for an organization that not only includes queer people at the table and celebrates their contributions to our party and our state. I count myself among that lucky few. As someone from a very conservative part of our state, I know first hand the fear and trepidation the LGBTQ community experiences at work every day.
That makes me so I’m proud to work for a party that knows if one us are chained, none of us are free.