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Reflections on National Coming Out Day

Since 1988, National Coming Out Day has been a day to celebrate the visibility of LGBTQ people.

The Need for Celebration

Two visionaries, a psychologist by the name of Robert Eichberg and activist Jean O’Leary proposed National Coming Out Day as a way to celebrate, and highlight, LGBTQ identities. The movement was also designed to help increase the visibility of LGBTQ people, and in essence, help make these identities more mainstream. The hope was to increase positive reception from straight folks in connection with LGBTQ people, which seemed necessary at a time in which queer people lacked many legal protections that are offered today.

It seems fitting then, that National Coming Out Day (October 11), comes just days after the Supreme Court heard cases from queer folks who argued cases aimed at increasing workplace protections for queer-identified people.

The Realties of Coming Out

Coming out isn’t an easy process for many people and it’s often a complicated process of first coming out to one’s self (and learning to accept one’s self) and then sharing that truth with other people in your life. For many, coming out offers a powerful psychological sense of freedom, but it can also come with other problematic consequences.

Coming out has cost people friends, family members, jobs and at worse their lives. To date, there have been 19 reported cases of fatal violence against trans people. Trans women of color are especially vulnerable to this kind of violence. I share this not to be morbid, but to highlight the real potential risks of coming out. On a day like National Coming Out Day, which is often filled with some many bright displays of visibility, sometimes we forget the high cost that many pay (and have paid, to be honest) in being visible.

It’s important to recognize the not everyone has the same privilege of being visibly and publicly queer.

Coming Out is a Individual Choice

That’s all to say that as we celebrate a day that’s sole purpose was to help celebrate our individuality and truth, it’s also important to remember that there is no one right way to be LGBTQ. There is no one right way to come out. And you don’t have to come out to simply be a part of a hashtag or public movement.

Ultimately, coming out is a highly personal experience. You must consider your own individual circumstances and the risks involved before taking this step. It’s important to listen to yourself (and hopefully have the support of loved ones or professionals) and what your needs as you decide whether or not to come out.

To close, I’ll leave you with this quote from the incredible actress, producer and activist Laverne Cox:

“Believing you are unworthy of love and belonging – that who you are authentically is a sin or is wrong – is deadly. Who you are is beautiful and amazing.”

Laverne Cox

Author: Jor-El

Jor-El is Co-founder of Viva Wellness and a foodie and film buff. He most often writes about mental health, relationships, food and mindfulness. When he’s not busy working, he typically can be found lounging or walking around NYC with his pup Nomi.

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