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October 11, 2023 is National Coming Out Day

October 11, 2023 is National Coming Out Day, and this is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to come together and share our stories. When those of us who are out share our stories with the wider community, it can help others to know that they aren't alone in their journey of sexual and gender expression.

According to the Human Rights Campaign,

The first National Coming Out Day, organized by Jean O’Leary and Dr. Robert Eichberg with the National Coming Out Day organization, was observed on October 11, 1988, the first anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. In 1993, the National Coming Out Day organization merged with us, formally known as the Human Rights Campaign Fund. We created the National Coming Out Project in 1996, which is part of our ongoing work that goes beyond the activities on October 11 to provide resource guides and information to people who are coming out or those interested in understanding the journey.

In today's hostile political climate, it can be scary to be upfront about sharing your story, and if you don't feel comfortable that is your right. There have been laws recently that persecute the LGBTQ+ community, and many of us feel our rights being threatened.

According to CNN,

At least 417 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the United States since the start of the year — a new record, according to American Civil Liberties Union data as of April 3. That’s already more than twice the number of such bills introduced all of last year.

Many of the laws being passed against the LGBTQ+ community target school children and the transgender community specifically. Many aim to limit access to healthcare. This is a tragedy, and something that we need to stand up against at all levels of government.

It is also important to safeguard our LGBTQ+ identifying children, and support them on their journey to discovering themselves. Making our children feel safe at home is key to combatting the bullying that they may receive elsewhere. If you are a parent of an LGBTQ+ child, making them feel comfortable with their identity and advocating for their safety can go a long way towards safeguarding their future.

While advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community is important, not everyone has the capability to be an advocate. It takes an extreme emotional toll to constantly have to defend yourself and your orientation, and to educate others about your sexual or gender identity.

It isn't always safe to come out. If you are in a home that is anti-LGBTQ+ rights, it can be difficult to speak to your family, and in some cases even dangerous. Make sure that when you come out, you can feel safe in doing so. Exposing yourself to harm should not be necessary in being who you are.

According to Stonewall,

National Coming Out Day isn’t a day to force LGBTQ+ people to come out, or to shame people who haven’t done so. It’s a day to celebrate the beauty of being true to yourself, for having the courage to share an important part of your life with others, and for celebrating those who may come out to you. Rather than being perceived as exposing yourself or confessing something, we should see coming out as a marker of coming into your identity, and allowing others to share in that knowledge. National Coming Out Day should also be a day to acknowledge the difficulties of coming out, and to remember that it’s still not something all LGBTQ+ people can safely do.

Depending on where you live, and the laws in your area, you may not feel safe in coming out at work or school either, and that is a personal choice that you need to make for yourself. No one should force you into coming out if you don't feel safe to do so. There is an enormous amount of hate currently for the LGBTQ+ community, and you should never feel like you have to put yourself in jeopardy.

Coming out is deeply personal, and when you tell someone about your orientation, you are taking them into your confidence. It is important that you share first and foremost with people you feel that you can deeply trust. This will help you find support for when and if you decide to come out to a wider community.

You can read more tips from the blog:

If you have faced harassment or bullying as a result of coming out, it is important to seek help. Many teens are displaced from their families each year due to coming out, but help is available.

There is help available for LGBTQ+ youth facing homelessness available from:

These are important resources for anyone whose family doesn't feel accepting of their identity. In our country, LGBTQ+ youth face homelessness at twice the rates of other youth. In order to find safety, you can seek out help from these resources.

Promoting safety for our community needs to be at the forefront of our minds with all of our advocacy and awareness efforts. Since equality and inclusion is still a concern in our society today, doing all we can is important.

Effectively addressing systemic problems related to LGBTQ youth will require buy-in from lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels. Many lawmakers throughout the country are fighting to pass legislation that would protect the LGBTQ community. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, of Colorado, lists initiativesExternal link:open_in_new on his website that are significant to LGBTQ rights, including bills that have been introduced. Unfortunately, most bills that would make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ people are not tied to a popular issue like marriage equality and die during the legislative process without much press. Backlash to major victories for the LGBTQ rights movement also presents dilemmas. Some legislators have recently introduced bills at the state and federal levels that would deny basic protections to LGBTQ people and legally allow discrimination against members of this community.

Promoting safety may mean getting involved in political causes for the LGBTQ+ community. We can vote for candidates who value our rights, advocate publicly, get involved on a community level, or sign petitions to make social and political change.

When our basic human rights are under attack, we need to fight back and do all we can to promote inclusivity at every level of our communities and our country.


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