Coming out as any letter of the LGBTQ+ spectrum (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer) can be difficult. It requires courage and bravery to tell your family and friends that you’re gay. It also requires trust and care from the people receiving the information so they can support their newly out friend or loved one.
National Coming Out Day, the eleventh day of October each year, is a time to recognize the struggles of coming out and provides an opportunity for queer people to announce their sexuality or gender identity proudly. Founded in 1988 to commemorate the civil rights march in Washington, DC for LGBTQ+ people, this holiday also memorializes the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Whether you are queer yourself or an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, celebrating National Coming Out Day can show others that there is nothing to be ashamed of in their identity.
For this National Coming Out Day, here are three steps you can take to improve the lives and conditions of LGBTQ+ people and promote positive mental health:
- Discuss LGBTQ+ issues and “coming out” with friends and family. Regardless of a person’s sexuality or gender identity, we all have a role to play in reducing stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people and the discrimination or prejudice they experience. We can help our neighbors, friends, family, and colleagues better understand the challenges LGBTQ+ people face and how to best remove those hurdles.
- Donate to an organization committed to helping LGBTQ+ people. There are many organizations, both national and local, that increase access to mental health resources, housing, job opportunities, and more.
- Celebrate! Show love to yourself if you identify as LGBTQ+. Show love to your friends and family that identify as LGBTQ+. Join your queer friends and chosen family on National Coming Out Day (or any day!) to celebrate our differences.
People who are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum of identities as it relates to gender and sexuality are often given a much more difficult path in life. For many, they are not able to be their truest selves until much later in life, if ever. Instead of having people hide who they are, they should have the support of their friends and family from the beginning.