Today is the 30th Annual National Coming Out Day!
Quick history lesson – National Coming Out Day was born on the first anniversary of the march on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place on October 11, 1987. Over half a million people participated. This event also resulted in the founding of numerous LGBTQ+ organizations. The purpose of National Coming Out Day is to mark the anniversary of the march and to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
Today is a day to celebrate coming out, as it is a momentous thing for most LGBTQ+ people and it takes a tremendous amount of courage.
Coming out – and living being out – means so much for everyone in the community. Visibility is so important because people need to know real queer people, not just characters in the media who do not always accurately represent the LGBTQ+ community.
While being out is so important, do not feel pressured to come out. If your not in a safe place, or just are not ready to do so, you do not need to come out.
However, if you are looking for advise on how to come out, here are some students coming out stories.
“Coming out is such a big thing to so many that I didn’t think that anyone would be able to forget the first time, until I did. My best friend had to remind me. We have both been very stubborn our whole lives, this was more true when we were young than now. When we were young we both always had to be the one that was right. One day he told me that it was illegal for boys to marry boys and girls to marry girls. I told him that he was wrong and that I was going to marry a girl one day. At the time I said that to be right.”
“I came out as bi in seventh grade. I was out for a few months but then I went back in the closet cause it freaked me out. And then I came out as bi again. Both my parents were pretty accepting, though my mom was almost a bit awkward with it. This past year I came out as a lesbian and my dad’s response was actually kind of funny. He said ‘I’m the only lesbian in this family.’”
“My coming out story is kind of funny. So it’s 2014, I’m 12 and I’m like ‘oh no, I’m the ‘big gay’ and so I have this big freak out. In 2014 the middle musical was ‘Shrek The Musical’. My mom and I were on the way to ‘Shrek The Musical’ at the high school and I kept thinking, ‘it’s now or never, it’s now or never.’ So I’m like. ‘Mom,’ and she’s like, ‘yeah,’’ I said, ‘if I don’t tell you now I’m not going to tell you for another six months.’ She said, ‘okay,’ and I’m like, ‘Mom I’m a homosexual.’ Then she’s like, ‘alright, you want to talk about it?’ And I was like, ‘NO’ and I jumped out of the car and ran into the high school.”
“I’m pretty sure my mom knew since I was in the sixth grade. She would do this weird thing where she would point at people and be like, ‘how about that guy?’ I’d be like, ‘I don’t, I don’t, I don’t.’ In sixth grade I lived in a small town and they didn’t have a LGBT space at my school. So I was talking to my mom and I said, ‘I’m thinking of starting a GSA at school,’ and she was like, ‘okay, but they’re going to think you’re gay.’ Then I said, ‘yeah that would be so weird wouldn’t it.’”
Why one student felt the need to come out – “The only gay exposure I had before I came out was my uncle… He is the reason I came out. He didn’t come out until he was 25 and I remember him telling his story and crying to my dad, … and that was after his father died. So he was never able to tell his father, and that’s one of his biggest regrets. And I realized when I was twelve years old, I was like ‘big gay’ in the closet, and I realized I didn’t want that to be me. I don’t want that to happen to me.”
Representation matters so much and is so important. Sharing each other’s coming out stories empowers closeted people to come out and creates allies. It makes the world safer for more LGBTQ+ people to be out.
Coming out encourages others to live their most authentic life. But if you suspect that someone you know might be LGBTQ+ DO NOT out them. It is not safe for everyone to be out. Coming out is such a personal thing, that you need to decide to do for yourself when you are ready to do.
You deserve to unapologetically be you. You deserve to be able to live your most vibrant, genuine, and simply your most happy life. But if you cannot be out this National Coming Out Day, please know that you are loved. Know that you are not broken. You might not know it yet, but you have a community with members from all over the world who understand you and accept you.