This article was published on October 4th, 2016
This October 11th will see the return of National Coming Out Day. This day has been celebrated annually since 1988 and upholds the principle that coming out is the most effective instrument of LGBT activism that the community has to hand. It evolved from the anniversary of the 1987 Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights which saw approximately one million people marching on the Washington during a six day event aimed at highlighting the plight of the gay community in the United States. National Coming Out Day has since attracted more attention each year, with thousands of events being held all across the world to commemorate it. But with so many LGBT events throughout the year, why does this day continue to attract so much attention? Why is it such an important event?
Coming out, or the act of living openly with ones sexual or gender identity, is a frightening prospect for many members of the LGBT community. Especially for those who are not in touch with their local communities, it can be an isolating experience and one, which can alienate an individual in their own community and social circles. Coming out is a phenomenally brave thing to do, it means rejecting societal standards and norms and going against the grain. This is something that the majority of people struggle with and so takes huge amounts of personal bravery and strength.
The LGBT community is one which has spent decades dealing with attempts to shame us into silence, the strongest weapon those prejudiced against us have is that of shame and the implication of abnormality. The more we refuse to bow to these norms and live openly, unashamedly and freely with dignity and strength, the more we pave the way for acceptance for the next generation of LGBT individuals. The generations before us got us to this point with immense bravery and a level of fearlessness that deserves our respect, we must now continue their work in ensuring the safety and tolerance of our community.
Statistically speaking, people who are in direct contact with a member of the LGBT community are significantly more likely to support equality legislation than those who aren’t. This means that one of the most effective tools we have in order to work towards legal and social acceptance and equality, is simply being open and out. National Coming Out Day celebrates this openness and this incredible tool that we hold in our hands, that of being ourselves. It is an opportunity for us to come together and celebrate ourselves, our strength and our ability to overcome societal obstacles and pressures in order to be true to our own gender and sexual identities. It is true that strength is found in numbers and National Coming Out Day provides those numbers to those who need the strength.