“Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.”
– Robert Eichberg, Psychologist & Gay Rights Activist, 1993
Happy National Coming Out Day from the Ottawa Family Pride Festival!
October 11 is National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBTQ+ awareness day meant to celebrate and support individuals in the LGBTQ+ community “coming out of the closet” and disclosing their identities to others. National Coming Out Day was inaugurated in 1988 by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary, both Gay Rights activists who chose the date because it was the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
In the beginning, National Coming Out Day was both a radical and political movement; an observance marked by private and public figures coming out, sometimes with media coverage, in order to show the nation that everyone knows someone who is LGBTQ+, and to humanize the LGBTQ+ community and do away with harmful stereotypes and assumptions. Today, National Coming Out Day is still radical and political, but it is also a celebration of LGBTQ+ identities and the fact that it is now much safer for individuals to come out in most Western countries.
Today, National Coming Out Day is celebrated in the United States, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. National Coming Out Day, also known as NCOD, is sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign in the United States, which provides resources and venues of support for members of the LGBTQ+ community, including real stories from those who have come out, guides to intersecting identities, and opportunities to get involved with human rights activism in America. Check out the link below to view the Human Rights Campaign’s “Coming Out Center” on their website, and view some of these incredible resources for yourself!
We at the Ottawa Family Pride Festival know just how difficult coming out can be. We also know that not everyone is in a position where coming out is an option. And that coming out isn’t just a one-time thing; it’s a process that can go on your entire life as you meet and decide which people in your life are safe to be open around.
That is why we want to say “Congratulations and thank you for being you!”
Whether you came out 40 years ago, are planning on coming out to someone today, or don’t have any plans to come out for right now, congratulations on making the decision that is best and safest for you, and thank you for embracing your identity and place in the LGBTQ+ community in the way only you can. We are so proud of you, and we hope you are proud of yourself, too!
To Our LGBTQ+ Supporters and Allies
Thank you for being a safe place. Coming out is an intensely personal decision only that person can make, but your support and advocacy for a safer society to come out in are integral to that process. Your decision to “come out” as an ally of the LGBTQ+ community is also incredibly important, as it shows the LGBTQ+ youth around you that you are someone who can be trusted as they explore their own identities.
Come out and join us today on National Coming Out Day by celebrating yourself and your identity, whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, asexual, heterosexual, cisgender, or even if you don’t know yet and are just figuring it out. We are here to support you whenever you discover your truth and want to shout it to the world.
Check out more resources on coming out and LGBTQ+ activism at the links below, and have a wonderful National Coming Out Day!