National Coming Out Day: Why October 11th?

On October 11th of 1987, the city of Washington saw the start of what would be a six day rally which fought for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. This would be known as “The Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,” forever going down in history as National Coming Out Day (NCOD). The activists in this march demanded recognition of basic human rights, as well as legitimization of their love. The march happened simultaneously during the AIDS crisis––the LGBTQ+ faced heavy discrimination and no health support from the government. They demanded an end to sexist oppression. The power of this march brought half a million people together, all of them fighting for rights that should have been recognized long ago. Love will always be love. They were, and still are in many cases, deprived of the right to legitimize this simply because who they loved seemed wrong in the eyes of those who denied the power of a diverse community. 

lgbt banner 42 North This day was founded by Jean O’Leary and Robert Reichenberg in 1988: both of them well known for their activism and devotion to the fight for liberty for the LGBTQ+ community. They founded this day on the anniversary of the 1987 march, National Coming Out Day. This is a date where people not only celebrate their identities, but show support for the community as well. NCOD celebrates the act of coming out, as it can be a long process and, unfortunately, it is often extremely difficult for people to do. No one should have to explain their identity to anyone, and so we must recognize and empathize with the true strength and the emotional journey other people routinely experience. 

We need to reflect on the history of October 11th, as members of the community and as allies. The people in the LGBTQ+ community struggle every day with injustices and discrimination, and we are to be held responsible to respect and celebrate the diversity of our community every day. It needs to be understood that you don’t need to be LGBTQ+ to be an active ally. Most importantly, during the upcoming election, keep in mind when as you vote that we need a society that comes together rather than polarizes further.