First held in the United States on October 11, 1988, on the one year anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day celebrates the freedom, personal, and political meaning of coming out as LGBT to the world. It has since been celebrated annually every year since in nations around the world, including Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In 2017, National Coming Out Day is October 11, 2017. National Coming Out Day celebrates life: everyone that is in the closet or brave enough to come out and those that support their loved ones coming out.
Coming out has always been an important part of every LGBT person’s life. Whether it was a struggle or a relief, completely challenging and heartbreaking, or the beginning of a new chapter and an awakening, coming out as your true self and identity to the world is detrimental in a queer person’s life. Coming out takes courage and the ability to embrace who you are at a time when you haven’t disclosed it to anyone else.
Coming out is not an option for all gay people around the world. In the United States, you can be fired from your job because your gay. Over 30 states don’t have anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT employees from termination. In Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, homosexuality is a crime punishable by life in jail, or even death.
If you are the parent of an LGBT child, a friend, or loved one, the best thing you can do is be there for them. Every person is different. Their way of handling being different will be personal and individual. No two coming out stories are the same, and every coming out experience is unique and different. It takes time, experience, and understanding that often doesn’t come easy. Have patience for those that may need a shoulder to cry on, or a cheerful hug of support.
For those that have come out, your bravery is commended. Your strength in living out in the open is palpable and is celebrated on National Coming Out Day. It’s up to you to help the next generation so that their experience of coming out is easier than what yours was. For those that haven’t, National Coming Out Day is to remind them to have patience and don’t forget to believe in yourself. Everyone was born the way they were to give the world a beautiful array of color and differences to choose from. Take your time and do what’s best for you when it’s best for you. There are people that love you no matter what.