Everyday there is some type of celebration day. Every year on October 11th, the LGBT Community celebrates National Coming Out Day (NCOD). The community celebrates with local discussions, parties, parades, and even with a simple table that offers information about the local LGBT Community.
So how did this day even become a day to be recognized? National Coming Out day was created by Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary in 1988 (Human Rights Campaign, 2016) just one year after the Second March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. Eichberg and O’Leary were at the time the head of National Gay Rights Advocates. The March on Washington was part of the Gay Liberation movement and “it placed its political strategy on public visibility of queer people, tying individual public revelations to the larger political project of securing gay rights” (Orne, 2001, p. 684). The Gay Liberation gained momentum with these various marches and political statements.
NCOD allows individuals who may have not come out to their friends and family, a day to possibly reveal that they identify as being part of the LGBTQ Community. A person who is thinking about coming out is often scared due to working through the stigma of being gay in addition to working through their own psychological thoughts and concerns about finally revealing themselves (Orne, 2001). Coming out can affect a person’s self-esteem, mental health such as depression which can lead to isolating themselves. There have been countless stories that are about kids telling their parents that they are gay, and their parent’s response is “you must leave this house, or start therapy to make yourself become straight.” Time and time again this happens, which at times results of kids hiding their sexuality until they are an adult and have the ability to support themselves financially. But by coming out a person is no longer living a lie and can freely express themselves without having to hide.
Some people feel that coming out is a one-time thing, but as discussed in class some people feel that they are constantly coming out to people (Papallo, 2016). Constantly coming out can and be very exhausting for people. An example would be when my instructor came out to his co-workers while working at a social public agency. He said by the time he got to the last person’s office telling them that he was gay, he was ready to crawl into a ball and take a nap. Each time a gay person starts going to a new doctor, they have to out themselves to ensure they get the proper medical care they need.
Lastly, Papallo (2016) suggests that a person who is thinking about coming out, be in individual therapy to help process everything that is going to happen. Papallo suggests that an individual does not come out on a family holiday or celebration as this can be very overwhelming for all parties involved. It is helpful to have a strategy on how one will announce to their family members, and it is also suggested that there is an advocate or supportive person there to help the person process their feelings of coming out. By having someone there to help support will make a huge difference in how information is presented.
Human Rights Campaign. (2016, October). The History of Coming Out. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/resources/the-history-of-coming-out
Orne, J. (2001). ‘You Will Always have to “Out” Yourself’: Reconsidering Coming Out Through Strategic Outness. Sexualities, 14(6), 681-703.
Papallo, P. (2016). LGBTQ Class Lectures.