This past Friday, October 11th, celebrated National Coming Out Day. Coming out is a major factor of being LGBTQIA+, because it can be a tough thing to do, and it’s an ongoing process. You don’t just come out once; you come out many different times to many different people over the course of your life. And although coming out to loved ones is important to many members of the community, some would rather stay in the closet, and that’s totally valid.
The purpose of the holiday is in part to share coming out stories and celebrate LGBTQIA+ identities, but it’s also to promote coming out as a form of activism. Coming out shows the bigots around you that you’re unashamed of your identity and their disapproval can’t change that. In addition, many people hold bigoted views simply because minority groups are “out of sight, out of mind.” The idea is that knowing and caring about an LGBTQIA+ person forces them to acknowledge the humanity of the community as a whole. In addition, someone who has an LGBTQIA+ loved one is more likely to support gay rights.
However, I believe most of us would agree that your safety and wellbeing come first. If you know for a fact that you would be putting yourself in a potentially physically or mentally harming situation if you came out, then don’t do it— you’ll probably do more harm than good. And if you just don’t want to share that part of yourself with the people around you, that’s fine too! It doesn’t make you any less proud of your identity; there are so many other ways to show pride. You always come first.
I want to take a moment to celebrate everyone in our community, whether you’re all out or still closeted and trying to figure some things out. You’re all amazing! Happy National Coming Out Day!