When I am eighteen again,
I will remember the excitement of living
and forget the dramas of daily life.

I will see more bright smiles in the hallway
and fewer dull reflections on the hallway floors.

When I am eighteen again,
I will build stronger friendships
and tear down my insecurities.

I will do more of those things I want to do
and worry less about fitting in because of my choices.

When I am eighteen again,
I will fall in love with a giggling girl
and overcome my shyness to ask for a date.

I will remember how it feels to be eighteen
and forget I am not eighteen.

When, I am eighteen, again.

© 2012, David L. Harkins

This weekend, I scratched another item off my Bucket List. I spent almost four hours in good company climbing around the treetops and zipping between trees at Navitat Canopy Tour in Asheville.

When I finished, I had completed ten zip lines, two bridges, two rappels, and three short hikes. The longest line was just over 1,050 ft. long. The fastest was the one I show in the video (below), which has an estimated speed of 45 mph. The highest line was about 250 ft. off the ground.

I shared this story Monday with a small group of people and someone in the group asked me why I chose to experience the zip line course. She wanted to know if it was because I liked the thrill and adrenaline of traveling fast, or if I was trying to conquer a fear of heights, or did I have another compelling reason.  No, I told her, this was just about me doing something that I have always wanted to do. There was no other reason.

After she had left the room, I wondered how much of her life she has spent waiting for a reason to do those things she wants to do while the seconds of her life steadily click by.

Don’t do this, okay? Don’t let the moments of your life pass without enjoying each one as best you can.

Go. Do what you want to do, because you want to do it. You don’t need a reason.

Today is National Coming Out Day.

Yes, I am coming out. In a manner of speaking.

I am a straight person coming out in support of the freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals to love whomever they may choose, and to live life without discrimination and persecution of any kind.

I was raised to be tolerant of everyone’s differences and have endeavored to be so throughout my life, although I have admittedly been uncomfortable at times when around my LBGT friends. I don’t know why and would not dream of trying to explain such feelings when there’s no rational basis for their existence. I will tell you, though, that I’ve finally outgrown the discomfort.

We live in a different world than the one in which I grew up. Our culture is more open and accepting now. Today’s young adults learned as children–our children–that “everyone gets a trophy just for showing up.” While some may complain about their lack of ambition as a result of the way they were raised, I believe today’s young adults are perhaps the most tolerant generation in history, and their acceptance of everyone’s differences is beginning to influence their parents and grandparents.

Even so, many of my friends still cannot step forward and express their love for someone of the same gender, let alone marry this person in most states. While it appears we have made some progress, there remain far too many people in America who care more about what consenting adults do behind-closed-doors than about the contribution these same adults make to our society.

As for me, I am not interested in the bedroom behavior of anyone I know–regardless of their sexual preferences. It just doesn’t matter to me. How about you? Would you seriously want someone to know the intimate details of your closed-door encounters? The exhibitionists aside; I wouldn’t think so. I believe that you’d rather be judged on your contribution to our world and not on who you choose to love or your sexual desires.

If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, know there are people–even those you may not know–who love you and care about you as a human being regardless of whether you’re “in or out.” It makes no difference to us if you choose to step out today, or any day. If you do decide that today is, “the day;” I applaud you. I do hope, though, that you will consider your current circumstances. As you already know, there are still too many homophobic people and institutions whose intolerance will work against you once you express yourself. Please remember that your safety is more important than taking a stand today, or any day.

For everyone else; grow up, already.

We’re all human. Regardless of our race, ethnicity, or sexual preference, we’re more alike than we are different. We all deserve to love and to be loved.

It seems to me that life, and love, are hard enough without all the hatred. Take a close look the struggles in your own life.

Then, maybe you, too, will decide it’s time to come out.