Long-time gay admirer (nothing wrong with that) and Tribune-Review columnist Mike Seate outed his Aunt Mary in his newspaper column.  And her "housemate" Ms. Lillian.  They along with long-suffering Uncle Bernie live in Harlem which presumably is not part of the Trib's distribution area.  Hopefully, Ms. Lillian doesn't suft the net on her Blackberry.

Like Florida's disgraced Republican congressman Mark Foley and evangelical Christian leader Ted Haggard, Aunt Mary and Ms. Lillian were sharing space in society's largest walk-in closet.

Lately, it seems, they have an awful lot of company.

Let's see a show of hands from folks who spent Election Night wondering how bans against gay marriage could succeed as a ballot issue in seven states when so many of our public figures and elected officials seem to be in the life themselves.

Paging Robert Traynham!  Mike, the homos have been screaming about the hypocricy for years.  Check out Mike Roger's blog www.blogactive.com for a long list of "openly gay" Republicans who want to have their cake and eat it too (there is something wrong with that.).  I'm glad the heteros are waking up to this. 

Without naming names, I can think of a half-dozen local politicians who are well-known in gay and lesbian circles, though the lifestyle they present to voters is more hetero than the crowd at a Ted Nugent bow-hunting seminar.

And for each of those closeted gay power-brokers, I can think of twice that many local notables I've unexpectedly run into at local gay bars and parties. Yeah, I know -- you're wondering what I was doing there myself, but I swear I favor gay bars for the ambience.

Yep, they get forced out of the closet by scandal and intrigue.  No one political is walking out voluntarily or proudly.  And yet there's subtle pressure in the LGBT community to support our "family" who still cling to the love that dares not speak its name mentality.  Maybe we should spend a little less time speculating about Melissa Hart's sexual orientation and a little more time talking honestly with our known gay comrades about their reluctance to come out.  However, this being Western Pennsylvania where you can't swing a duck without hitting a "pro-life" Democrat, I suspect our good friends will keep their beards firmly in place.

I'd like to nominate Pennsylvania as the first state in the union to honor a Coming Out Day. We could lead the country with an observance when all closeted gay, lesbian and transgender Pennsylvanians can openly, freely admit who they are without fear of recriminations, judgments or any more of those sideways glances that say, "Isn't it about time you stopped with the 'my special friend and roommate' business?"

It's a simple concept. Straight people could mind their own business. Gay people wouldn't have to hide, lie or resign their political posts.

I was going to laugh uproariously at this suggestion from a Trib writer until I realized that Mike's columns are plucking away at the homo-contempt so rampant in this part of the state.  Most people have an Aunt Mary and Ms. Lillian in their family.  I just happen to be the Aunt Mary with my own Ms. Ledcat.  Minus the oblivious husband and Tanqueray gin. 

Pennsylvania recognizing National Coming Out Day would be a welcome event.  I'm sure the AFA of PA would have a field day with that one and issue at least 13 poorly worded press releases asking people for money and to pray (in that order).  That I would enjoy.  But it would be more a celebration of being out for those of us who are rather than an opportunity for real dialogue with those in the closet.  The perceived risk is too great.

So they'll continue to take advantage of the private parties and social events AND campaign contributions while we continue to take the risks of living out and proud in a less than fully tolerant society.  Sounds fair, right?

FYI, National Coming Out Day is October 11.