With national headlines regarding transgender men and women and federal changes to laws about LGBT workers, Thursday’s national celebration of "coming out" signifies a particularly courageous moment for those in the LGBTQIA community.
National Coming Out Day celebrates those who have struggled or may be struggling to come out as lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and queer, according to the National Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
When was it first celebrated?
The day was originally celebrated on the anniversary of the National March on Lesbian and Gay Rights on Oct. 14, 1987. On that day, more than 500,000 people marched in Washington, D.C., holding up the now-historic AIDS Memorial Quilt, covering the length of a football field, according to The AIDS Memorial Quilt website.
What does "coming out" mean?
Coming out -- whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or allied -- still matters. When people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. The HRC says sharing our stories of coming out with each other can also be powerful.
Why does it matter?
For the LGBTQ community and straight allies, the day honors the courage of facing the potential backlash and discrimination being gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or queer might draw.
According to the HRC, one out of two Americans has a gay or lesbian friend or family member.
Around the country, NCOD supporters took to social media to share their support and tell their stories of coming out.
my coming out as bi didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped at the time—got a lot of shock and anger that I didn't expect—but good god i'm so, so happy I did it. sending love to everyone who isn't out yet (and everyone who is!) on #NationalComingOutDay 💖💜💙— Sammy Nickalls 👻 (@sammynickalls) October 11, 2018
Some even pointed out that even on National Coming Out Day, it is important to realize why some choose to keep their sexuality private.
coming out is great, but do it on YOUR terms. #NationalComingOutDay is meant to encourage discussion & set a tone of acceptance, not put pressure on those not ready. <3— tyler oakley (@tyleroakley) October 11, 2018
I came out 6 years ago today on #NationalComingOutDay because I was too scared to do it on any other day.— Ashly Perez (@itsashlyperez) October 11, 2018
It's hard to think I was ever afraid to be myself, but for 23 years I was in the closet.
If you're not out yet, it's OK. We'll be here when you're ready. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜
I'm proud to be trans.— Sarah McBride (@SarahEMcBride) October 11, 2018
Being out can be powerful, but also a privilege. Not every person feels safe coming out, and they no are no less LGBTQ than those who do.
On this #NationalComingOutDay, let us recommit to building a world where everyone is safe living authentically.
happy #NationalComingOutDay 🏳️🌈 i came out as pansexual 4 months ago, but not on my own terms. i know firsthand the fears of being outed prematurely, so don't let this holiday pressure you into dangerous situations. you are a valid member of the lgbt+ community no matter what 💕 pic.twitter.com/N8EhwcQ5RG— bongo cherche (@marios_brother) October 11, 2018
For more on the history of National Coming Out Day, visit HRC.org.