I always appreciate Kathleen Parker’s thoughtful columns, which seek to articulate her conservative views while calling out the hateful venom spewing forth from the current Republican standard-bearer. But in her Feb. 20 op-ed, “Our political identity needs to be American first,” she demonstrated a lack of understanding about what it truly means for LGBTQ people to come out. Though she acknowledged, “ ‘Coming out’ was crucial to the gay movement and, perhaps, it still is,” she wrote that not knowing someone’s personal details (such as sexual orientation) would signal a respect for privacy “and, not least, one’s right not to know.”

Not knowing someone’s sexual orientation would not signal a transcendence of identity politics, as she suggested. As long as the default assumption is that everyone is heterosexual, it will be crucial for the LGBTQ community to stand up and be counted, including those who run for office. Rights for which many fought for decades will evaporate if people recede into the shadows. Straight people broadcast their sexual orientation in many subtle ways; coming out and being visible is the only path to equality.

Chris Jewell, Burke