National Coming Out Day is celebrated every year on October 11. It is a day that advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, raising awareness about their civil rights, and aims to fight against homophobia. Even though it is up to each person to decide when they are ready to come out, National Coming Out Day encourages those who identify as LGBTQ+ to come out to their friends and family, and it also encourages friends and family to be supportive. This is also a day for LGBTQ+ people to be out and proud, and display the community's symbols such as the pride rainbow flag.
On October 11, 1987, thousands participated in the National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington, in a display of support for the LGBTQ+ community. This was a huge event for the community and proved to be crucial in the fight for gay, lesbian and transgender rights.
On the first anniversary of the March, in 1988, Rob Eichberg and Jean O'Leary founded National Coming Out Day, to be observed annually on the day of the march. One of their goals was to show everyone that they probably already knew someone who they loved and respected who identified as LGBTQ+, which in their opinion was a huge factor in fighting homophobia.
Many public figures and celebrities have been inspired by this day to come out, and openly share with the world that they are LGBTQ+. Every year the Human Rights Campaign sponsors National Coming Out Day, and until 2014 there was a different theme for every year.
The first time National Coming Out Day took place, only eighteen states participated in celebrating it. Since then the holiday has grown in popularity and it is now commemorated internationally.
National Coming Out Day is a very important day for the LGBTQ+ community - it educates people on one of the biggest and most important movements in history, the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, and it garners allies for the cause.
It celebrates diversity, which is very important when fighting discrimination and homophobia, and it inspires people to make the life-changing decision of sharing their true selves with the world. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is not always safe for LGBTQ+ to come out to their communities, and no one should be forced to do so.
What to do on National Coming Out Day
If you identify as LGBTQ+ and feel comfortable and safe doing so, today is the perfect day to show your pride in being a part of the community. If you are not ready to come out publicly, and/or to your friends and family, there are many LGBTQ+ organizations that you can think about joining, to meet more people in the community, and have some kind of support network of people who understand what you are going through.
If you want to be an ally, support and donate to LGBTQ+ organizations and take part in marches, protests, and demonstrations. Make the LGBTQ+ people in your life feel loved and accepted.