National Coming Out Day celebrated its 31st birthday without much fuss this year. For the record, it occurred on October 11, 2019. Admittedly, a lot has changed in America since the event was created in 1988 by gay psychologist Robert Eichler and lesbian activist Jean O’Leary. They initially wanted to turn the spotlight on LGBTs living in towns large and small across the country, in an effort to raise awareness of their very existence and to counter bigotry and homophobia. Their concept was simple. Discover a gay, befriend a gay, and learn that we are all the same. No need for homophobia when you are among friends.
And, in fact, National Coming Out Day was effective in its attempts to help gays and lesbians, and later transgender people to declare who they were “inside.” Like any snowball rolling down a hill, the movement gained momentum across all 50 states and some countries around the world until it became apparent as early as 1990 that perhaps its scope was too limiting–when coming out was simply not enough. That was when the NCOD organization merged with the Human Rights Campaign and became part of its National Coming Out Project.
The HRC had the leadership and funds to really support the effort globally, even in countries where the mere act of “coming out” meant potential death. In the United States, the LGBT community continued to become a more visible force both socially and politically, as Pride celebrations took the lead and served to reveal how many thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, and then millions who labeled their sexual orientation as LGB and/or T there really were in this country.
By 2014, even the HRC was discovering that Pride festivals were becoming the most accepted way of declaring sexual orientation, if only because the LGBTs were surrounded by their own. Equally as important, if not more so, however, these parades and celebrations were enlightening to the straight community–giving them not only a visible source of the sheer size of the gay population but also showing them the strength and determination this ostracized minority demonstrated. Rather than the anger and violent confrontation of the ACT-UP years, here were happy and proud celebrants of their sexual reality.
Soon, straight allies came forward to stand proudly with the LGBTs, and then subsequently to actively join them in providing pathways to increase their acceptance among their heterosexual neighbors. Now, in 2019, on the verge of a monumental U.S. Supreme Court decision being weighed by it justices, and a decisive Presidential election, there is estimated to be 11 million voters who consider themselves within the LGBTQ community and 57 million voters who are their straight and cisgender allies.
It has been said that there is strength in numbers. And politically and socially, 67 million voting U.S. citizens is an impressive army no matter the size of the enemy. These people cross every single ethnic, religious, and racial distinction and are found in every single state of the Union. And they are growing louder, stronger, and more intent than ever to move beyond mere acceptance to outright full equality for everyone. Anything less is unacceptable.
The white Christian majority in this country has every right to be scared that this movement is proceeding along at breakneck speed, and is not even being slightly stalled by the current White House administration’s efforts to blockade them through policy changes and executive orders. They have already lost this battle, for diversity and freedom to live your truth has been the fundamental legacy of the United States since its founding.
All of which brings up back to National Coming Out Day. It was a wonderful concept and has served us well, but it is now time to recognize that its purpose has passed. May you Rest In Peace.
The LGBTQ youth of the nation no longer need a “day” to inspire them to step up and open the closet door. They now have a legion of organizations to provide them guidance. Among them: All Children – All Families; Campus Pride; The Equity Project; Everyone is Gay; Family Acceptance Project; Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN); Gender Spectrum; GSA Network; It Gets Better Project My Kid is Gay; National Youth Pride Services; Point Foundation; Safe Schools Coalition; Scouts for Equality; Trans Student Equality Resources; TransYouth Family Allies; The Trevor Project; True Colors Fund; Tyler Clementi Foundation; We Are The Youth; and Welcoming School, and others.
For older and still closeted LGBTQ individuals, there are additional groups that not only help with coming out but also legal, financial and discrimination issues as well. Just think how essential the American Civil Liberties Union, LGBT Rights Project is. It is the oldest organization fighting for LGBTQ rights in our courts, for they know that true equality does not come just through acceptance but must be mandated through rules and laws that govern our behavior.
And then there is the Asian Pride Project, Athlete Ally, Bisexual Resource Center Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers, COLAGE, Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, Freedom to Work, GLAAD, GLBT National Help Center, Global Equality Fund, Harvey Milk Foundation, Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality (a/k/a GLMA), Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Movement Advancement Project, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, NOH8 Campaign, Sylvia Rivera Law Project,Trans Advocacy Network, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Trans People of Color Coalition, Williams Institute and You Can Play.
With allies like that in our corner, not only are our backs protected, our future is insured as well. Those of us at LGBTQLoyalty.com and LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, Inc. are determined to help guide the world’s corporations to recognize that equality in the marketplace not only increases business and profits, but also is simply the right thing to do.