When is the right time to come out? I don't know the answer for GLBTs, but for an ally, I need to use discretion when it comes to when to speak up. Although there can be times when I want to shout in the direction of those who don't understand, there is also time to soft-pedal my thoughts.
One of my goals is to influence others. I want to open the minds and hearts of fundamentalist Christians, as well as other people, to accept gay people as equals. I figure if I have been one to change my viewpoint, having been unknowingly married to a gay man who came out, perhaps others will recognize this is something worth a new evaluation. Because the fundamentalists so frequently dismiss anyone who doesn't accept their theological views, I find it important to get along, so far as I can. Seems that there is always someone who wants to debate online, or sometimes you get stand-offishness in a group, but I have to decide when and what to say.
This past Sunday I was asked by a very sweet couple from church, to go out to eat. Because I rarely get invited, I thought, why not? Conversation was polite, and these folks are genuinely concerned for both me and my family. The Mr. is an influential person in the congregation, and because I've always liked their extended family, I decided to not be confrontational. I think that was a good choice - this time. I hope for future listening and sharing with people like this.
Other times I speak up immediately, especially when I have the time to discuss issues and there is time on both parts to listen. Not just hear the words, but listen. At a 4th of July event last weekend, I was pleased to talk with another straight spouse. He had not read much on the "other side," and we could identify with each other's situation even though he comes from a fundamentalist church, and there were others nearby that probably knew that the two of us had common ground to discuss. (Both our situations are somewhat "out.") I openly expressed that I had come to know that being gay is not a choice, and that I supported GLBTs. I know he was surprised, and I recommended several resources that I thought would be interesting and/or helpful.
When there is debate going on, I can merely share my own story, my own views. I'm not good at debating theology, although I know many who are, and I cheer them on. I usually refer these opponents to gay rights to books already written, and ask them to listen to gay people's stories. That is what helped me, and it's my hope that others will tell their stories openly, when they know the time is right, and that they will be understood. Rarely do we change by making someone say, "Uncle," and, like my former mom-in-law says, "you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar."
What are effective means that others have had, in order to share and get across your viewpoints? Can you post them? I'd love to know better ways to influence others and help the cause.