National Coming Out Day celebrates LGBT+ of the past, present and Future

Editorial Board

#ComingOut2020 circulated social media this October 11. 
Illustration: Emma Cottrell

October 11 is National Coming Out Day, a holiday that “celebrates the brave members of the LGBT+ community who feel safe enough to come out of the closet and get to be their true self” IWU Pride Alliance representative Jasmyn Taylor said. 2020 is the 32nd anniversary of the holiday which started in 1987 where half a million people marched on Washington for queer rights. 

The event sparked the creation of many LGBT organizations and was a huge step forward for the movement. To fight back against the hate they received after the event, LGBT activists Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary declared it National Coming Out Day. 

While no in-person events could be held this year, that did not stop folks from celebrating the occasion online by spreading love and acceptance. Tan France of Queer Eye who is openly gay and Demi Lovato who identifies as queer hosted a Facebook Watch special where they exchanged coming out stories. Other celebrities also took to social media to show support. Billy Porter, an actor and singer who is openly gay, posted on Instagram, “I’m here to tell you that not only do you belong but you are loved and supported. I see you and I applaud you for just being you.” 

National Coming Out Day is not just for people who have already come out. It also speaks to those who are still in the closet to let them know that there is a community waiting for them. “When someone comes out, their story often helps others feel inspired to come out and it creates a beautiful cycle of people living freely as they are,” Taylor said. Sharing your coming out journey is powerful as someone in the closet could relate to your experience and gain the confidence to come out themselves. 

“When someone comes out, their story often helps others feel inspired to come out and it creates a beautiful cycle of people living freely as they are,” Taylor said. 

The IWU Pride Alumni Community on Facebook posted, “IWU Pride Alumni Community values you, your love, and your existence. You are valid and you matter whether you have been out, are just coming out, or are not ready to #LoveisLoveisLove.” 

National Coming Out Day is also a way that the LGBT+ community drowns out hate with love. The Advocate, a media outlet that focuses on LGBT+ topics, says the holiday is “a positive celebration of queerness that encourages folks to share their truth with the world and take a stand against homophobia.” With LGBT+ rights at risk under the current administration, continued advocacy for queer rights is vital. Many watch the confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett and worry that their human rights are on the line.  

Much of LGBT+ advocacy began to draw attention to intersectionality which is the overlap of different, often marginalized, identities. As Black Lives Matter protests and Pride month marches coincided, the Black Trans Lives Matter movement started to gain traction due to the frequent murder of Black trans women. The defense of LGBT+ rights is expanding to encompass more of the identities that reside in the community.  

National Coming Out Day is about remembering those who fought before and uplifting those who are fighting now. It is a day to celebrate the victories and to never back down when all seems hopeless. It is a message to all those not out yet that they are loved and valid.  

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