Today is National Coming Out Day. It is a day for letting people know that their sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, classmates, neighbors, politicians, teachers, celebrities, pastors – that the people that they meet when they’re walking down the street, that the people that they meet each day – are gay.*
Twenty years ago, Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary founded National Coming Out Day in celebration of the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights held a year earlier. About half a million people had marched in Washington, DC, then, advocating for LGBT rights. This day is observed in many countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
In the United States, the Human Rights Campaign manages the event under the National Coming Out Project, offering resources to LGBT individuals, couples, parents and children, as well as straight friends and relatives, to promote awareness of LGBT people living honest and open lives.
Coming out as a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered person is not easy. Often, it is an extremely difficult and painful process that may very well result in further alienation from our families, friends and communities. However, being honest and vulnerable to others can also heal wounds and bridge gaps wrought by secrecy and lies. Coming out is liberating – we can finally be true to our selves, live in integrity and love fully.
Think what would happen if every gay woman and man stood up and proudly proclaimed “I am gay.” Just envision how life would be if those held in high esteem or in positions of authority stood up. Just imagine if every gay soldier stood up. If every gay religious leader stood up. If every gay celebrity stood up. If every gay working woman and man stood up. If we all stood up, what a different world this would be!
And what if all friends, family, coworkers, classmates and neighbors of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender women and men came out as allies? Came out as proud of their loved ones?
So wherever, you are, come out!
*Sung to a Sesame Street ditty.
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