National Coming Out Day is an internationally observed day to celebrate people who openly identify as LGBT. For many, coming out is a journey; it is a way to embody gay pride instead of fear and shame. For others it may be just the opposite.
“Being out and proud is important!” proclaims 25-year old Kyle McKenzie. “When we are out and proud, it helps eliminate the stigma of being gay which only helps foster a more accepting and comforting world. National Coming Out Day is a great conduit to telling the world who you are.”
Scot Haney agrees, but with one caveat. “If celebrating National Coming Out Day gives someone the encouragement to come out, then I say I’m all for it,” he told SFGN. “But no one should be outed without their knowledge!”
There are many reasons not to come out – fear likely tops the list. Other reasons are some relationships may be permanently changed in negative ways. Young people worry about being thrown out of their homes or losing financial support. Coming out could lead to harassment or discrimination at work.
The devastating mass shooting in Orlando back in June left 49 people dead and 53 others wounded. It was the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter, the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history, and the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
But, being honest about who you are may have its benefits. A 2013 study found LGB people who were out and open about their sexuality had fewer signs of anxiety, depression, and burnout (i.e. emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of personal accomplishment), and lower cortisol levels, than those who were still closeted to friends and family.
According to the Human Rights Commission, one out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10. This is the 28th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. If you know someone who is struggling with coming out, this could be a day for you to show compassion and understanding.