Students honor National Coming Out Day

Nicole Becker, business manager

National Coming Out Day offers the public an opportunity to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and straight allies for equality, and it aims to promote a safe world for everyone to live openly and truthfully.

The day has been celebrated annually for the past 27 years on Oct. 11 in celebration of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights, in which half a million people participated. According to Human Rights Campaign, the demonstration caused numerous LGBT organizations to form, and four months after the march, more than 100 LGBT activists gathered in Manassas, Virginia. It was there that the participants decided to create a national day to celebrate coming out.

The Gay-Straight Alliance club (GSA) isn’t planning on celebrating the event in a specific way, but the members encourage the school to support the students who do choose to come out on that day. GSA stresses that coming out is not an easy thing to do for most people, and consolation from those around them can help raise morale.

“Obviously if a student isn’t LGBT, it doesn’t affect them as much, but it’s still really important that they support their friends and they’re there for their friends if coming out does go badly,” junior co-president of GSA Emily Magness said. “For LGBT students, I think it’s a really invigorating time, like you can show who you really are to people that wouldn’t necessarily know. It’s a time where we can focus on our personal acceptance and be like, ‘OK, someone may have come out to me today, someone may not have, but it’s still important to be accepting.’”

Sometimes, students experience negative reprimand after coming out, rather than being celebrated. Magness explained that students can “get kicked out of their home” and “lose all financial support from their parents” as a result of coming out, or sometimes “friends don’t see them in the same way” as before they came out. National Coming Out Day was created in hope of progression of acceptance and safety, and GSA intends to be a club where students can feel safe without fear of judgment. GSA recognizes that students are at all different levels of confidence in their identity, and it suggests that people come out on National Coming Out Day only if they feel comfortable.

“From what I’ve heard, it’s a really liberating experience — to come out is to finally realize, ‘Hey, there are other people that support me, and there are people that will still love me no matter who I am,’” Magness said. “I would tell any LGBT kid, don’t come out if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. Don’t come out just because someone tells you it’s this national day; come out on your own time, when you’re ready, to people that you know you can trust.”