The Universality of Coming Out: Part 1

Recently, a colleague approached me with some feedback regarding a popular social media campaign within the cannabis community.

He’s not turned on by the fact that the #comingoutgreen campaign “borrows” on the LGBTQ+ theme of coming out of the closet—a metaphorical reference to the act of a person of alternative gender identity or sexual orientation no longer hiding their true feelings and intents.

The Act of Coming Out

When fully exercised, coming out involves either no longer hiding or even directly informing friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors of one’s position in terms of how they identify and what they want.

Coming out may have become a recognized life event for some because of the LGBTQ+ community, but it is an equally powerful experience of courage, rebirth, and honesty for millions of pot smokers and even those with serious diseases.


An American midwestern back yard in spring.

In this series of articles, let’s explore the act of coming out, both in terms of one’s sexuality and also their cannabis consumption. And if you really want to give your evangelical Republican Aunt Mildred from Cleveland a heart attack, tell her you smoke weed, are gay, and are an atheist—all in the same sentence.

I’d like to be there for that one….

Coming out is a grand catharsis; a significant life event involving a brave defiance and self-confidence with which most straight, middle class “conforming” Americans simply cannot relate.

Catharsis & Truth

Coming out is the act of recognizing one’s true nature and declaring it for all others to see—with pride and determination.

It involves embracing catharsis and truth. We could argue over whether these elements are necessary for the happiness and contentment of the human spirit until the cows come home. My point isn’t to debate philosophy, but rather to proclaim the healing powers of honesty to oneself and those around them.

If the benefits of catharsis and truth are so great for one set of people, why not for another? Ok, so we have catharsis and truth behind the power of coming out. But there is an even more important theme: Inclusivity.


A beautiful backyard bush in Toronto, Canada.

The entire concept of coming out, optimistically speaking, is that the majority will accept the minority member who is doing the coming out. Unfortunately, we know this isn’t always true.

For some, coming out has had very negative repercussions. I certainly don’t want to trivialize these challenging and sometimes even horrific experiences, especially for teens in homes with little or no sensitivity to their situation.


Just as society at large must accept and, preferably, embrace alternative viewpoints and preferences like homoesexuals and cannabis users as they emerge from the shadows, the leaders of the cannabis movement/industry/culture must also focus on inclusivity if they wish to accomplish their goals. This includes all users of cannabis, be they straight, gay, black, white, rich, poor—and regardless of how or if they pray.

Whether your goal is to see national legalization, help those in the cannabis and patient communities, or just to make a boatload of money with a business based in a legal state, the topic of inclusivity won’t go away. Groups like Women Grow and others are sincerely battling with this issue every day.


Folk blues virtuoso guitarist and composer Joe Rollin Porter (Cleveland, OH).

As that cute punk on South Park likes to say, “we learned something today.” Coming out requires boatloads of bravery and is not always without punishment of the innocent. Optimistically, however, it can result in a soul-liberating catharsis and integration of truth into one’s life.

But without inclusion, coming out doesn’t work. This fact is as important for the cannabis community as it is for LGBTQ+ people revealing their true selves to society.

My thanks to Sarah Mascarah (@sarahmascarah on Twitter) in Southern California for her thoughtful feedback to this article. It resulted in improvements and the author adopting a more inclusive tone (put that irony in your pipe and smoke it….).

Look for more articles in this series, including interviews with industry and community leaders regarding their thoughts on inclusivity and “coming out.” To ensure that you don’t miss any articles, just subscribe. I promise I won’t spam you.

All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a writer, instructional designer, and cannabis satirist who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, The KindSKUNK, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.