National Coming Out Day is an annual civil awareness day internationally observed on October 11. Founded in 1988, the emphasis is that the most basic form of activism is coming out to family, friends and colleagues, and living life as an openly lesbian or gay person. The foundational belief is that homophobia thrives in an atmosphere of silence and ignorance, and that once people know that they have loved ones who are lesbian or gay, they are far less likely to maintain homophobic or oppressive views. The process of coming out involves self-disclosure of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
The day was chosen because it is the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights.
The Huffington Post has a great article about how to make it easier for a child to come out. Here’s the gist of it.
Many young people across the country struggle with coming out to their family and friends as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). A parent might suspect his or her child is gay, or he or she may have no idea. Parents and other caregivers can make the way easier for the child both before and after they come out.
If your child has not come out:
1. Avoid jumping to conclusions. Many parents think they know who their child is, whether straight or gay. But it is important to let your child discover who they are on their terms in their time.
2. Recognize and address your concerns and fears. Many parents have fears about having a gay child. It is important to know that the parents are not alone in their fears and there are resources to help deal with the fears.
3. Show that you are open and accepting. Using disrespectful language to refer to other gay and lesbian people will discourage open communication with your child. Make your child feel safe by showing acceptance of other LGBT people.
4. Be approachable and available. Make time and space for your child to talk to you openly. Give them openings to talk about whatever is on their mind.
5. Show unconditional love in your actions and words. Tell your child that you love them for who they are and nothing can change that. Show your love by treating your child with care and respect.
After your child comes out:
Once your child comes out, your love and acceptance are the one thing that will make the biggest difference in your child’s health or wellbeing.
1. Show unconditional love in your actions and words. Remind yourself how much you love your child. Tell your child that you love them and that nothing can change that. This may be the thing your child most needs to hear. Even if you are uncomfortable with the news, show affection and avoid saying things that are hurtful.
2. Believe your child. They have probably thought long and hard about this, maybe even agonized over it, before coming out to you. Asking questions like “Are you sure?”, “How do you know?”, “Is this a phase?” won’t make your child feel accepted. They may feel that you are hoping that their identity will go away.
3. Acknowledge the courage it took. Coming out to you may have been the bravest thing your child has ever done. Even if it’s hard to hear, let your child know that you appreciate their openness and honesty.
4. Recognize and address your own concerns and fears. If you aren’t thrilled with the news, you don’t have to fake it. It’s okay to let your child know that it is hard for you. Your child probably went through a process to accept their identity and you may need this too. Ask your child to be patient with you.
5. Don’t out your child to others. Your child came out to you, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to be out with everyone. Respect their privacy. Ask permission before discussing it with others. If you need someone to talk to, find a way that you can do this without violating their trust.