Some of us know that October 11th is titled as National Coming Out Day and the month of October has kind of moved into it being a month long celebration of that act. The day was founded as a means of celebration of the power behind the act of coming out, to live you life openly and free from the burden of having to worry about acceptance. It importance is the belief that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, by coming out you force people to see that they may know or love someone who is LGBTQ. By showing how many of us there are, it would help remove the stigma. It was thirty one years ago that the first National Coming Out Day was celebrated and it has grown to welcome bisexuals, transgender, gender queer, gender non conforming, non-binary, and other identities.
]National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. This day was sparked as an unpredictable, non-defensive way to protest anti-LGBTQ actions. “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 1993. According to HRC.org, One out of every two Americans know someone who is gay, lesbian or bisexual. One out of every 10 know someone who is transgender. By increasing visibility of our community, it makes people see that we do affect their lives.
Coming out is important on so many levels and we must also realize that it isn’t a one time event. It is important for others to see us as LGBTQ people; to see us is to know us. To know us is to be held accountable for things they say and actions they do. Our visibility helps those who have not found the strength to come out, it gives them a point to focus on and become stronger. October is the perfect month to start thinking about this and how it affects you, it is LGBTQ Awareness Month.
The benefits of coming out arent just limited to creating an environment where hatred cannot survive, it is also good for our personal well being. Having to constantly check your actions, words, how you dress, how you stand, or any other number of things that we, as LGBTQ people, go through creates large amounts of stress. Stress in turn can affect our health, spurring various types of physical and mental trauma. When you start coming out that weight is lifted and your stress naturally reduces. When you constantly have to think about how you act and hiding what you are, your stress levels are always higher. Having a safe net to be who you are creates the safety needed to help reduce stress levels and offer the support needed to live your life in a more open fashion. Actor and activist Ian McKellen has said, “I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out – including myself. Life at last begins to make sense, when you are open and honest.”
Coming out is always difficult and it is a never ending process, but you dont have to go through it alone. Head over to my Links page and check out some valuable resources to help you in this process. Build a network to support you while you are going through this transition. And most important, live and be proud of who you are. There is no one else like you and you deserve to be your true authentic self.