National Coming Out Day has been observed each year Oct. 11 for 25-years. Throughout the two and a half decades that the community has recognized this day, a huge shift in the number of openly-LGBT celebrities, politicians, and other high profile individuals has occurred.
In fact, some have questioned: Do we still need National Coming Out Day?
According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the answer is a resounding yes.
"As our community celebrates victory after victory for equality, including two major marriage victories at the Supreme Court this year, it’s important to remember LGBT people still face great difficulties and challenges ahead,” said HRC Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer Jeff Krehely. "Twenty-five years after the first National Coming Out Day, it is still important to remember that the more we come out as LGBT people and allies, the more we tell our stories and engage others, the more victories we will achieve."
"Coming Out Still Matters"
The theme of this year's National Coming Out Day, set by HRC, is "Coming Out Still Matters." The organization hopes to remind the community that now more than ever, it is important to support LGBT community members in coming out, and encourage it whenever possible.
"Coming out STILL MATTERS," writes the HRC. "When people know someone who is LGBT, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other.
"Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality."
History of National Coming Out Day
On Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second such demonstration in the nation’s capital and resulted in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGÓ) and AT&T’s LGBT employee group, LEAGUE.
The momentum continued for four months after the march as more than 100 LGBT activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it.
The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg, a founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O'Leary, then head of National Gay Rights Advocates. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.
To this day National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for LGBT individuals to live truthfully and openly.
HRC has a timeline of National Coming Out Day themes since 1999 and notable people HERE.
Trailblazing coming out moments
In honor of the 25-years of National Coming Out Day, HRC has compiled a video of notable coming out moments over the years. The video features short excerpts from the very public coming out of people like Ellen DeGeneres, Pedro Zamora, Lance Bass, George Takei, Adam Lambert, Wanda Sykes, Chaz Bono, and Chely Wright.
In discussing her coming out on "Piers Morgan Tonight," comedienne Sykes joked, "If you think I had a big mouth before, now it's just crazy, I'm like over the top."
Sykes has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights since coming out a few years ago.
2013 was a big year for coming out
Countless American musicians, athletes, politicians, news anchors and actors have advanced the movement for equality this year. HRC highlights a few of these coming out moments in the blog post.
With the advent of Social Media, the way that many people come out has changed, and access to LGBT community resources is more readily available.
In fact, HRC is encouraging people to use Social Media to speak up and speak out about National Coming Out Day. Check out this blog post from HRC Consumer Marketing Intern Hedi Hurst.
Whether you come out as bisexual or transgender, to your family or to the internet, in person or in a letter, coming out still matters. Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality. For the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, the Human Rights Campaign is bringing NCOD to social media, but we need your help.
This Friday join social media stars Tyler Oakley, Marissa Mayne, Terrells Famous, and others in celebrating National Coming Out Day. Share your story about why coming out still matters on Vine, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc using the hashtags #NCOD and #comingoutstillmatters. Follow and tag @HRC and @WeAreHRC for reposts of our favorite Vines and Tweets!
Throughout the day, this page will be updated with Vines from LGBT individuals and straight allies sharing their coming out day stories. Join the conversation!
Instagram: @humanrightscampaign and @WeAreHRC
It Gets Better Google Hangout
Also online, the It Gets Better project is hosting a Google Hangout today at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT as part of National Coming Out Day.
Participants will be able to ask questions of the panel comprised of three LGBT young people about coming out, resources, sexual orientation and gender identity, relationships and anything else.
Panelists include artist Landyn Pan, actor Gideon Glick, and activist Natalie Meier.
Participants can send their questions in advance HERE or tweet them to #IGBHANGOUT.
Additional information is HERE.
Numerous organizations provide coming out resources, however, HRC has an extensive set of materials on the topic on its website.
Additional information about National Coming Out Day is HERE.