National Coming Out Day celebrated Sunday

Elizabeth Taylor, Associate News Editor

National Coming Out Day, recognized every Oct. 11, is a yearly opportunity for members of the LGBT community to share and celebrate their identities.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, around nine in 10 Americans say they know someone who is gay, and around a third of Americans say they know someone who is transgender.

While someone’s sexuality or gender identity is no indication of their personality, it may have affected many of their life experiences, especially in childhood.

Coming out is often just sharing something personal with friends and family.

For transgender and nonbinary people, it is important to have others know about their identity so that they can start their transition and be treated as their actual gender, rather than the one they were assigned at birth.

For people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or any other identity which is not heterosexual, coming out can let others know who they may be attracted to or end up in a relationship with.

In a more broad sense, coming out can be seen as a moment of activism.

The Human Rights Campaign, a major promoter of National Coming Out Day, cites public change as one of the main reasons they see the day as important.

“When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law,” the HRC website says.

The first National Coming Out Day was inspired by the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

This march was a direct response to the AIDS crisis, as activists fought for people to recognize that this was not just a “gay problem” and that LGBT peoples’ lives needed to be protected.

The next year, activists started National Coming Out Day to inspire closeted members of the community to take the risk and come out. Activists hoped that this would be a way to make the rest of society understand that their homophobia might be hurting someone they cared about.

In 2020, young people who may want to come out are facing a unique new challenge: they may be quarantined at home with their families.

As the general public has become more accepting to LGBT ideas, this may not be as much of an issue, but for many young people in the community, their family’s opinions on their identity may be a huge issue.

If someone’s parents or siblings disagree with their identity, they may experience anything from rude remarks to physical abuse.

At the same time, keeping something so important from those who are closest to them can be a burden on the individual.

This has always been a problem for LGBT people, but it is only intensified by being at home all the time.

On Eastern’s campus, the Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity celebrates this event each year by letting students literally come out of a rainbow door.

Students are also encouraged to sign the door, creating a record of each year’s new participants and a collage of names for members of the LGBT community to look back on.

The event almost always occurs outdoors on the library quad, so it will still be able to happen even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though the national day occurs on Oct. 11, Eastern’s celebration will be on the 12 to make sure students are on campus to participate. GSD Center employees and members of the EIU Pride RSO will be on the library quad from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]