Today is National Coming Out Day

4 mins read
Graphic by Cris Palomino

Today LGBTQ people around the world celebrate the 31st annual National Coming Out Day (NCOD) – an event created in 1988 commemorating the first anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington. Over the event’s three decade history LGBTQ people have seen wide advances in civil rights – and more recently, severe backslides thanks to the current administration.

The importance of NCOD lies not only in coming out, but in offering an inclusive and supportive environment for those who can’t or aren’t ready to come out yet. The event recognizes the challenges LGBTQ people face from family to discrimination.

Speaking about the importance of NCOD, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David said, “National Coming Out Day is an important opportunity to celebrate the power of visibility to change hearts and minds and how coming out can transform our lives and our movement.”

“The tragic reality is that there are still far too many LGBTQ people across America and around the globe who are forced to live in fear. At a time when transgender people, especially transgender women of color, face an epidemic of violence, it is imperative we address this crisis at all levels of government and in every community,” David added. “If you come out but cannot be safe, you are not free. The only way to triumph over fear is with love — love of ourselves, our LGBTQ community and the diversity of communities and experiences that enrich our humanity. We must turn that love into action — by living our truths and fighting for a world where every person is safe to live theirs.”

Visibility is the strongest and most important tool the LGBTQ community has in combating that stigma and discrimination. It’s what shines a light on abhorrent stereotypes promoted by those who seek to thwart or eliminate LGBTQ people’s civil rights. Studies show it’s more difficult to demonize an entire group of people as evil when a person puts a familiar name and face to an otherwise faceless group of people.

A 2016 survey commissioned by the HRC Foundation also came to this conclusion noting “35% of likely voters know or work with a transgender person, twice as many as a report from 2014 found. Significantly, more than two-thirds of those who said they know a transgender person expressed support for full LGBTQ equality.”

While I normally celebrate NCOD by retelling my own coming out story, this year I’d like to share a friend’s story he agreed to be filmed for this year. His story demonstrates why it’s not only important to come out if you can, but also to offer support to those who may not have the luxury or resources to come out as well as those who are forced out before they are ready.

We’re all on different paths, but the commonality among them all is the need for support, inclusion and compassion:

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Originally posted on Peacock Panache. Re-posted with permission.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he’s worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations.

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