Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.
Last month, an incredible act of solidarity and bravery happened in Germany, and if a friend hadn’t sent me this article, I would have had no idea.
In case you hadn’t heard, in February, a group of 185 German LGBTQIA+ actors staged a mass coming-out in a German newspaper, in the hopes of encouraging greater diversity onstage and onscreen.
“We identify, among other things, as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, inter and nonbinary,” the manifesto reads. “Until now, we have not been able to talk openly about our private lives without fearing repercussions on our professional lives.”
Coming out is something foreign to straight people. While we can sympathize — it’s only natural to want to be seen and acknowledged and valued for who you truly are inside — we cannot empathize. Not really.
One of the most moving explanations I’ve encountered was in a YouTube Q&A video. In a video with fellow LGBTQ creators Alayna Joy and Willow Faith, Bre Williamson discussed coming out and explained that, effectively, she is always coming out:
What people don’t understand about LGBTQ+ people in general is… every damn day, you come out. So, you could ask me, when did I come out to my grandma? It’s gonna be a completely different than my parents, than my friends, than my best friend, than the person I was dating at the time, than a teacher, the barista, a hotel staff member… it’s always gonna be different and I’m always coming out. I meet a new client, and I’m coming out to them. So, when people ask when I came out, I will come every day for the rest of my life. I genuinely believe that.
I am a white straight cisgender male. I never struggled with my gender identity or my sexuality. But I have tried to educate myself, to learn from the stories and experiences of others to appreciate how important coming out is to LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Coming out is well enough known as an experience now that it has become a narrative trope in television and movies. Closeted characters are threatened or blackmailed with forcibly being outed, or are forcibly outed. Coming out is powerful, so it can be weaponized.
While that is a negative portrayal, there is the flip side of this, as shown by those incredible German actors and actresses who chose to use a mass coming out as a statement, not only to the acting industry at large, but to fellow LGBTQIA+ people, in the hopes that they will not suffer the same indignities.
Unlike many of the Eyes Open puzzles I’ve previously constructed for this series, I didn’t use specific names from the source material as themed entries. Instead, I tried to craft a puzzle that visually expresses the topic. I don’t know if I succeeded, but it was where this article inspired me to go.
I hope this puzzle serves to both engage you as a solver and encourage you to learn more about the experiences of those different from you. We all want the same things, after all.
“Heterosexuality isn’t normal, it’s just common.” — Derek Jarman
[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]
If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.
I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.
Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Black lives matter.