A reader writes:

You write:

"Yes, donate and campaign and blog. But for all of those of you out there who are gay and do none of this, one simple political act can do much more: let your family, friends and co-workers know who you are."

...if you safely can.

I'm particularly concerned about your statements as pertains to youth. It is an unfortunate fact that queer teens do sometimes face violence from family, friends, or classmates, or risk being disowned; and generally have fewer options than do queer adults. Queer youth in dangerous situations have enough to deal with without feeling rejected by the queer community - which is a definite consequence of posts like this.

You say, "If you don't, please quit complaining about your lack of civil rights;" the queer community is engaged in complaining about our collective lack of civil rights, so if closeted queers can't complain, they're not full members of the community. It's an ultimatum delivered without respect for the unique, personal nature of the issue. Yes, it helps every aspect of the gay rights movement for more people to be out - gay, bi, straight ally, whatever - but saying that every queer person must be out does not reflect reality.
Oh, and enough with the monosexism already - us bi folks have to fight passing even more than gay people do, and I, at least, am getting sick of being treated as invisible by the straight and gay communities alike.

If the African-American civil rights movement had embraced arguments like this - in which minority members are always told they need risk nothing, sacrifice nothing and do nothing unless it's totally safe to do so - we might still have segregation. The usual tropes of left-wing victimology are all over this email, including my reader's constant use of the term "queer" for those who are simply gay and do not regard themselves as "queer" in any way. Obviously, prudence is necessary. But no civil rights movement that has embraced "safety" as its central message to its own has ever succeeded.

A message to young gay men and women, boys and girls: face down the fear. Risk something for your integrity. It is sometimes the only way to be free.

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