National Coming Out Day

This Friday, October 11, will mark the 31st official National Coming Out Day, first observed by the Human Rights Campaign on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights.

Over 200,000 people came to Washington on October 11, 1987 to protest the government’s apathy towards the AIDS crisis which was at its height. This march marked the date for National Coming Out Day to be celebrated every year since.

The Human Rights Campaign says that National Coming Out Day is “meant to help create an environment where living openly and honestly is possible.”

 

 

However, there is some disagreement among the LGBT community over if this day is actually a good idea. “Continuing to use the rhetoric of 'coming out' reinforces a view that heterosexuality is the norm,” says Matthew H. Birkhold, an openly gay assistant professor at Ohio State University.

AU students also weighed in on the issue.

“I dislike the idea of 'coming out.' I think it is unfair that people in the LGBTQ+ community have to come out and I think the idea of 'coming out' reinforces being straight or cisgender or hetero-romantic as the norm in society, which the very reason LGBTQ+ identities are discriminated against (because they are the other),” says student Abby Henry.

Coming out can be a complicated and messy process, but student Natalie Ramseur thinks it’s “beautiful.” 

“I used to go back and forth with myself about how I actually identified, and when I came out as a lesbian last year, I knew I’d never need to change my label again. The freedom is in finding the right label and building that comfort in who you are,” Ramseur says.

A 2017 report by GLAAD found that 20% of people age 18-34 identify as LGBT, more than any other age group. This age group is also more likely to consider themselves allies of the LGBT community.

 

 

“I think if National Coming Out Day gives folks with LGBTQ+ identities a positive experience, then it is a good thing. What I don't want is for National Coming Out Day to pressure people to come out, to make people feel bad for not coming out, or to position coming out as an experience that everyone in the LGBTQ+ community has because that's not necessarily true,” says Henry.

“I think coming out is freeing, but that’s not a universal truth,” Ramseur added.

Planned Parenthood has tips on coming out for people who are considering the idea. The most important tip? “[I]t should feel right to you.”

Ultimately, it seems that National Coming Out Day is a day to do what’s best for you, whether that is coming out, celebrating being out, being an ally, or something else!

 

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