National Coming Out Day is held on October 11th (or October 12th in the UK) every year to commemorate the first March on Washington by LBGT people. The March took place in October of 1987 and highlighted the lesbigay struggle for acceptance. The first National Coming Out Day was held on October 11, 1988.
Despite its name, National Coming Out Day (so called because it originated as an event in the United States) is in fact observed in many countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Croatia, Poland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The purpose of National Coming Out Day is to promote honesty and openness about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. In the US, the Human Rights Campaign has tips for coming out as LGBT or a straight supporter, worth checking out. They acknowledge that the experience of coming out and living openly covers the full spectrum of human emotion – from fear to euphoria.
The world has evolved in many ways since I first read The Coming Out Stories in 1980 – an anthology edited by Julia Penelope Stanley and Susan J. Wolfe. But the coming out experience today can still be just as traumatic, just as life-changing, just as emotional, as the stories told then.
(The book still has a proud place on my bookshelf, reminding me that we have been silenced for too long. The telling must go on. )
Coming out happens on so many levels. Coming out to yourself. To your family. To close friends. To colleagues, neighbours, friends, employers or employees. There are some we may never come out to. There is so much more support now than there was not so long ago, yet the actual coming out process is an individual one that each of us faces. So many diverse stories. Funny stories, tragic stories, amazing stories. They are stories about sharing who we are. Not what we are, not what we do, but who we are.
And that’s what sharing is all about.