National Coming Out Day celebrates the expression of sexual and gender identity, but coming out can be a daunting experience. The LGBT Helpline is here to support anyone in the process of coming out or anyone affected by the coming out of a friend or loved one.
“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”
Those are the words of Jason Collins, an American basketball player who became the first publicly gay athlete to play in the major pro-sports leagues in North America. Collins captures the idea behind National Coming Out Day (NCOD), which takes place each year on 11th October, to commemorate the Lesbian and Gay rights march which took place on the same day in 1987. This extraordinary march was only the second of its kind in the United States, with over 100 members of the LGBTQ community gathering in Manassas, Virginia to march 25 miles into the nation’s capital of Washington D.C.
The momentum from this march led to the founding of many LGBTQ organisations in the United States, and National Coming Out Day became a way to continue to promote a world that is safe and accepting for LGBTQ people living truthfully and openly. National Coming Out Day captures the feminist spirit of the personal being political. Like Collins said, openness is an important step towards disarming prejudice; it is crucial for people to be aware of LGBTQ individuals in their lives in order to fight homophobia in the public and private spaces.
People mark the day in a variety of ways, with many LGBTQ individuals sharing their stories on twitter using #ncod. Straight allies and LGBTQ people can also celebrate NCOD by supporting friends and loved ones who have come out or are in the process of coming out. Coming out is a different experience for everybody, but sharing experiences and offering support shows other LGBTQ people that they are not alone.
Despite all of the progress in LGBTQ rights and visibility in recent years, coming out is still a daunting prospect for most people. To be open about one’s sexuality or gender identity can seem like an impossible dream when someone is at the start of their coming out journey. However, with the right support, the stresses of coming out can be overcome, and self-acceptance can blossom.
Here at the LGBT Helpline, we support people of all ages who wish to be more open about who they are, and whom they love. On this National Coming Out Day, we want to acknowledge their courage and encourage others to reach out for help, if they need it. You are not alone, is the message we want to share, and over the month we will feature a range of coming out stories from LGBTQ people on our blog. We hope that their stories will give others hope and together we can support each other in the spirit of #ncod!
Our helpline and online chat support services are open seven days a week and are completely confidential and non-judgemental.
Call us on 1890 929 539 or log onto www.lgbt.ie
Artwork by Rob Gavin. See more of his work at www.robgavin.format.com