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Homophobia thrives in silence, so today, many people who identify as LGBTQ+ “come out.”
On this October 11, National Coming Out Day will continue to raise awareness for individuals within the LGBTQ+ community, and champion the idea that homophobia thrives in silence. On this day, many people who identify as LGBTQ+ will “come out” (a term stemming from the phrase “come out of the closet”) to friends or family about their sexuality, which is a very big moment! Beyond this, the history of the LGBTQ+ movement is a beacon of light — its champions are honored, and it underlines the personal being political. It’s also a chance to celebrate the liberation spirit — many do this by waving flags associated with LGBTQ+ groups or donning pins.
When is National Coming Out Day 2023?National Coming Out Day is celebrated on October 11 each year. The first observation was in 1988 and by 1990 it was being celebrated in all 50 states.
History of National Coming Out DayNational Coming Out Day was inspired by a single march. 500,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987, generating momentum to last for 4 months after the march had ended. During this period, over a hundred LGBTQ+ identifying individuals gathered outside Washington, DC, and decided on creating a national day to celebrate coming out – this began on the 1st anniversary of their historic march.
It was Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary who first proposed the idea of NCOD. Eichberg founded a person growth workshop, The Experience, and at the time, O’Leary was the head of National Gay Rights Advocates. Eichberg, who would later die in 1995 of complications from AIDS, had said the strongest tool in the human rights movement was to illustrate that most people already know and respect someone in the LGBTQ+ community, and NCOD helps these people come to light.
Over the last 15 years, the Human Rights Campaign has chosen a theme for every National Coming Out Day — 2014 and 2013 were both themed “Coming Out Still Matters,” and the earliest theme (1999) was “Come Out To Congress.” There have also been different spokespeople for each NCOD. Some notable names include “Frasier” actor Dan Butler and Candance Gingrich, half-sister of Newt Gingrich, in the 1990s.
NCOD gains popularity and participants every year. Since its inception, countless public figures and celebrities have openly identified themselves as LGBTQ+, and yearly share messages of support and hope for those still in the closet. Notable celebrities who tweeted in support of NCOD in 2019 include Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon and actress and advocate Sara Ramirez. The event plans to continue its efforts to eradicate hate and homophobia with friends and family coming out to dispel stereotypes.
How to Observe National Coming Out Day[list="holiday-list holiday-list-celebrate"][*]
Contribute to the Human Rights CampaignThis organization not only sponsors NCOD, but also dedicates itself to fighting for LGBTQ+ equality in many ways. It’s a worthy cause to support!
Support someone coming outNo way around it - coming out can be a difficult experience. Be an ally by accepting those that choose to share this part of their lives with you. If you yourself are on the fence about whether or not to share that important bit of your identity, consider taking advantage of the extra love today and make the leap, if the time is right for you.
Don a Pride symbol to raise awarenessThe symbolic representations of the different groups encompassed in the acronym ‘LGBTQ+’ can be a very welcome sight to see for some who feel discriminated against or alone. Raise awareness of the movements by donning a pin or waving a flag, or post your support on a social media platform that you feel comfortable with!
5 Important Facts About National Coming Out Day[list=holiday-listicle__list][*]
National Coming Out Day includes more than gay or lesbianLGBTQ+ has grown to encompass bisexual, transgender, and many more sexual identities - so more and more people are able to participate in NCOD!
It has grown in National supportOn the first National Coming Out Day, only 18 states participated — this number skyrocketed with media attention and sent the event worldwide.
It used to be much more dangerousIn this decade and in Western culture, it is statistically less dangerous to come out as gay or lesbian - many who are part of the community instead celebrate their identity and wear pride-supporting accessories!
Knowledge drives out hateOne study shows that those who know a loved one is in the LGBTQ+ community are less likely to maintain oppressive and homophobic views.
It was once headquartered in West HollywoodWhen NCOD first began, the headquarters of National Gay Rights Advocates was in West Hollywood, California, but has since moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Why National Coming Out Day is Important[list="holiday-list holiday-list-loveit"][*]
It’s a celebration of diversityWhen different people come together, we are all stronger. Hate and homophobia thrive in silence, according to the Human Rights Council, and this day serves to bring into light and accept the differences we have.
It shines a light on an important movement in historyA recent poll shows that 5% of Americans identify with the LGBTQ+ community - and that’s not even counting all the allies and supporters! The movements that stand behind NCOD is working to give all these people freedom, voice, and choice in how they live their lives.
It can be life-changingThe decision to live your life out of the closet — truly genuine, and not hiding any aspects of your identity — is a huge step for many people around the world. NCOD can represent this new beginning, and be one of the most important days in a person’s life.
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