October 11, 1988:

First National Coming Out Day. It is observed annually to publicize coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement. The day is celebrated in a wide variety of ways: from rallies and parades to information tables in public spaces. Participants often wear pride symbols such as pink triangles and rainbow flags. National Coming Out Day is observed in many countries, including Australia, Canada, Croatia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Closeted and in the closet are adjectives for LGBT people who have not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity. The closet narrative sets up an implicit dualism between being "in" or being "out.” Those who are "in" are often stigmatized as living false, unhappy lives. However, though many people would prefer to be “out” of the closet, there are numerous social, economic, familial, and personal repercussions that lead to them remaining, whether consciously or unconsciously, “in” the closet. The decision to come out or not is considered a deeply personal one, and outing remains a problem in today’s culture.

Outing is the act of disclosing a LGBT person's sexual orientation or gender identity without that person's consent. Outing gives rise to issues of privacy, choice, hypocrisy, and harm, in addition to sparking debate on what constitutes common good in efforts to combat homophobia and heterosexism. A publicized outing targets prominent figures in a society, such as well-known politicians, accomplished athletes or popular artists. In an attempt to pre-empt being outed, a public figure may decide to come out publicly first. After the Stonewall riots , swells of gay-libbers came out aggressively with slogans such as "Out of the closets, Into the streets!" Some began to demand that all homosexuals come out, and that if they weren't willing to do so, then it was the community's responsibility to do it for them.

“Outrage” is a 2009, documentary by Kirby Dick. It argued that several American political figures have led closeted gay lives while supporting and endorsing legislation that is harmful to the gay community. It focused particular attention on Idaho Senator Larry Craig, an outspoken opponent of gay rights who in 2007 pled guilty to disorderly conduct for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in a public bathroom. Outrage featured interviews with several people who claim that Governor Charlie Crist has led a private gay life while, during his tenure, publicly opposing gay marriage and gay adoption. Other politicians discussed in the film include former Virginia Representative Ed Schrock, California Representative David Dreier, former New York City mayor Ed Koch, and former Louisiana Representative Jim McCrery.

"Glad to Be Gay" is a song by British punk rock/new wave group Tom Robinson Band. It is considered Britain's national gay anthem since its release in 1976."Glad to Be Gay" is built around four verses criticizing society's attitudes towards gay people. In the first verse, it criticizes the British police for raiding gay pubs for no reason at all, since homosexuality had been decriminalized in 1967. In the second verse, it shows the hypocrisy of Gay News being prosecuted for obscenity instead of porn magazines like Playboy. On the third verse, it points out the extreme consequences of homophobia, such as violence against LGBT people. There have been ten versions officially released. Later lyrics were added and addressed the early outbreak of AIDS with the message: “just lay off the patients and let's fight the disease.”

If you want to learn more about your gay heritage and those who paved the way, through activism, sacrifice, courage, civil disobedience to give us a better and freer life you can visit The Stonewall Museum & Archives in Wilton Manors.

We should all know who our gay heroes are and be thankful for what they did on our behalf.