Today, October 11th is National Coming Out Day in the United States. This (2019) will be the 31st anniversary of its founding by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. The idea was to raise awareness and support for the LGBT community. If you know someone who identifies as LGBT you are more likely to support equal rights.
Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.– Robert Eichberg, in 1993
When I first heard about National Coming Out Day I was in college and I didn’t really get it. Why did we need a day to celebrate coming out? Can’t people just do it when they’re ready, or not? Shout out to the #tsql2sday prompt from this month, which was about changing your opinion on something – I’ve changed my mind on this too.
Why is National Coming Out Day Important?
Firstly, for yourself – trying to hide a part of who you are is exhausting. Trying to constantly cover your tracks or not talking about the great weekend you had with your partner or LGBT friends makes you feel guarded and unwilling to fully integrate into conversations.
A friend once told me about a diversity and inclusion exercise where they go around the group and have to talk about their weekend without revealing their partners gender, which is harder than you might think – and that was just one conversation. Now try doing it all day!
Secondly, for everyone behind you. This is the magic if you ask me. The more people that are out the more it becomes normal. As we already mentioned, if you know someone who is LGBT, or really of any diverse group, you are much more likely to try to understand and to be cognizant of things that affect them.
It also creates role models for the next generation. Usually when we mention role models we think of actors/actresses, sports stars and celebrities. When there are LGBT people in the limelight it’s exciting, it’s cool to know “hey that person is like me, maybe this will be alright”. I’d like to argue the more important role models are the regular people like you and me. Just going about our daily lives, trying to adult.
This isn’t about my personal coming out story. I am not looking for praise on coming out or being out. This is just about my regular, everyday life. I don’t hide who I am, what you get all the time is me, a slightly socially awkward lesbian IT nerd with a great sense of humour (depending on who you ask, but I like to think so).
I got married almost a year ago now. We both have jobs we enjoy, we bought a house, we have two cats. It’s all pretty ordinary. – my hope is that by making it normal it’ll be easier for the next group of people coming behind us. Anyone who feels like they don’t fit in for whatever reason, or has feelings they don’t understand. can look around and see people like them, making it.
One of the posts that came out of #tsql2sday prompt mentioned this exact idea, “Representation matters”. First go queue this link up to read next, it’s excellent. “What Convinced me that diversity is important”. In the post Eugene talks about his own type of diversity, and how his life was impacted by seeing successful people like him. This simple act of living your life openly really can make a difference for people.
Now this is not an encouragement for everyone currently in the closet to just come out and join the party. It’s a big step and it’s not all unicorns and rainbows out here. It’s vital that you are safe and have the support you need. At the end of the day, you do you, because every situation is different. If you need someone in your corner feel free to reach out to me. I’m definitely no expert but I’ll do my best.
Finally, if you feel so inclined head over to http://amtwo.lgbt and take a look at my good friend Andy’s post. He’s currently raising money for The Trevor Project, an organization whose mission is to end suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people. Also, he has the “Unofficial Queer Guide to PASS Summit”, if you’re heading there next month.
Thanks for reading – and happy National Coming Out Day!