National Coming Out Day: Beyond activism to authentic living

Every year, there is one day designated as National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11). Although National Coming Out Day was begun as a personal call to activism, it has become a call to live true to yourself. The two are not mutually exclusive. People tend to think of National Coming Out Day as the day to get out your poster board and megaphone to announce to the world that you are trans or bi, and everyone should applaud. It is really about being authentic. Remember, everyone comes out at different times and in different ways.

Many choose this day to resolve to live the rest of their lives without shame. For me, that is what National Coming Out Day is about. It is as much about introspection as external proclamation. If you feel the gender marker you were handed at birth doesn’t fit you, you know it. If you feel equally attracted to men and women, you know it. The question is when and how will you begin to let others into your circle. We should be able to talk about our gender or talk about our relationships or who we would want to date in the same way a cisgender* white male does. The fact is, you have a right to your true identity, just like everyone else, but it is not without risk.

Top five things you can do on National Coming Out Day (NCOD):

1. Find your online community and resources. Human Rights Campaign (hrc.org/resources/national-coming-out-day) has resources and examples of how to come out for many on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. LGBTQ Social (facebook.com/groups/lgbtqsocial/) is one of the largest online groups, but do a search and find the one that fits you. Be aware, however, of the difference between an online social group and an online dating site.

2. Write it in your diary. Coming out to your self is the first step to living a life that is true. The idea is to start small and not be overwhelmed.

3. Tell one person that you trust deeply. Don’t feel pressured to come out to anyone, even if they ask. It is your decision and no one else’s.

4. Find a campus alliance or local group. Worcester PFLAG (worcesterpflag.org) is a great resource, as is Worcester Pride (worcesterpride.org).

5. Wear a symbol of Pride. Even straight allies can do this one! Come out as an ally. Purple is a common color to wear as a symbol of solidarity. You can also get a Pride T-shirt or a simple Pride button. Check with your local or campus Pride group to see what it’s doing!

National Coming Out Day was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary on the anniversary of the National March on Washington as a personal method of activism. You can read more on Wikipedia about the history and how the day has evolved.

Ideas and suggestions for future columns can be sent to John@JohnArt.com.

*Cisgender means your gender identity matches what you were categorized as at birth.

John TROBAUGH

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