Happy National Coming Out Day!

The 11th of October is National Coming Out Day, an annual celebration of taking ownership of ones queer identity. Founded in 1988 to promote progress through visibility, we as a community have come a very long way in our journey towards equality. The choice to live openly as a queer individual encourages others to do the same and shows them that they are not alone, and have a family and community that loves and accepts them for who they are.

To continue an earlier discussion, it’s important to know and understand our beginnings to continue the work of those before us. October’s LGBT History Month highlights the contributions made by prominent members of our community throughout the ages. The Gay Rights Movement is still fairly recent history, with the Stonewall Riots of 1969 widely observed as the spark that started it all. More recently, the Matthew Shepherd Act was passed in 2009 to criminalize hate crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Intolerance, bigotry, and fearmongering remain ever present in our world today, but we have the amazing privilege and opportunity to learn from and do act against it. Whether it’s by taking an active sociopolitical stance against homophobia and inequity, or by simply living as an open member of our community, you are making your voice heard. I was fortunate to grow up without facing much discrimination based on my race, gender, or sexual orientation. It’s heartbreaking to hear the stories of friends and acquaintances who had a far more painful experience. At the age of fifteen I came out to my mother, and she met the news with nothing but love and support.

We celebrate Gay Pride every year to provide people with hope of progressive change. Many people, even within our community, complain that Pride has changed to become overtly sexualized and misrepresents us by showing us in a deviant light. Let us not forget that Pride is a celebration of the multifaceted group that comprises our community, from the kinksters and drag queens to the PFLAG members and their children. Pride started as a riot, a political movement, and it was all thanks to the most marginalized of us for finally taking a stand and speaking up.

Coming out is an ongoing process, and I can’t wait for the day when it becomes a non-issue. I look forward to the day when queer children aren’t afraid to share their stories. But until that day comes, we have to stand united together to work for a better future.

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