national lgbt coming out dayTuesday October 11th is LGBT National Coming Out Day.

On October 11, 1987, half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The idea of a national day to celebrate coming out came on October 11, 1987 when a half million people participated in a march on Washington D.C. for gay and lesbian rights. Since then, each year on October 11th, LGBT National Coming Out Day continues to promote a safe world for individuals to live truthfully and openly.

Coming out (of the closet) is a figure of speech for LGBT people’s disclosure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

There is no one right way to come out. Throughout the process of coming out and living more openly, it is important for a person to be in the driver’s seat about how, where, when and with whom he or she chooses to be open. The Human Rights Campaign has a Resource Guide to Coming Out to help people through that process in realistic and practical terms. It acknowledges that the experience of coming out and living openly covers the full spectrum of human emotion – from fear to euphoria. Whether coming out to friends, family, coworkers or healthcare providers, a person’s approach and timing will be as unique as his or her own sense of identity.

The Human Rights Campaign lists the following benefits of coming out:

The Benefits of Coming Out:

  • Living an open and whole life.
  • Developing closer, more genuine relationships.
  • Building self-esteem from being known and loved for our whole selves.
  • Reducing the stress of hiding our identity.
  • Connecting with others who are LGBT.
  • Being part of a strong and vibrant community.
  • Helping to dispel myths and stereotypes about who LGBT people are and what our lives are like.
  • Becoming a role model for others.
  • Making it easier for younger LGBT people who will follow in our footsteps.

But, there are also risks of coming out:

  • Not everyone will be understanding or accepting.
  • Family, friends or co-workers may be shocked, confused or even hostile.
  • Some relationships may permanently change.
  • You may experience harassment or discrimination.
  • Your physical safety may be at risk.
  • Some young people, especially those under age 18, may be thrown out of their homes or lose financial support from their parents.

The HRC suggest making a coming out plan. First, get a sense of how accepting the important people in your life will be by the things they say or don’t say when LGBT-related issues come up. Second, be well-informed on LGBT issues so that you can respond to misinformation about LGBT issues. Third, practice what you want to say and be prepared. Fourth, have a support group to help you through the process. Fifth, pick a good time to come out. And Last, be patient and allow time for people to come to terms with your news.